Bay leaves are used to flavor stocks, stews, marinades, and soups, they are generally added at the beginning of cooking and removed before eating. Fresh leaves have lots more flavour than dried ones. Bay is the basis of much French cooking, bouquet garni has many variations but a bay leaf is essential.Bay trees, with their glossy green leaves, can be quite prolific. I have one about 2 feet (60 cm) high, which gives me all the bay leaves I need. Fresh bay leaves, however, can impart a slightly bitter flavour, so this is a herb which is far better used dried. To dry them is easy: just hang a branch in an airy spot and the leaves will dry in a couple of weeks. They are used probably more than any other herb, to flavour stocks, sauces, casseroles and marinades.