Bay leaves are the dried whole leaves of the bay laurel tree, used to add a pungent, spicy flavor to savory dishes. The French variety, available in specialty-food shops, has a milder, sweeter flavor than California bay leaves. Discard the leaves before serving. Store bay leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dark place and use within 1 year.
For other herb varieties, see basil, borage, bouquet garni, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, epazote, fennel, fines herbes, garlic chives, herbes de Provence, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory, tarragon, and thyme.