Bay leaf is an evergreen related to camphor and sassafras trees. It's also known as sweet bay and laurel. Enjoy its sweet, balsamic scent and bitter/spicy bite in gravies and grain dishes, with beans and meats, and in cooking blends like bouquet garni.
Add one or two leaves are adequate flavoring for most dishes of six servings--add to water when stewing chicken or poaching fish, or while cooking soups, stews, or gravies. Bay leaf should be added early on, because it takes a while for its flavor to permeate the food. And be sure to remove the leaves before serving; they're sharp and can be dangerous if accidentally swallowed.
Bay perks up tomato sauces, pickles, meats, fish, and bean and grain dishes. It's a key ingredient in French and Mediterranean dishes, including French bouillabaisse and bouquet garni. Many cooks add several bay leaves to containers of stored grains and beans to repel grain beetles, and some homemakers add them to boxes of stored clothing to repel moths. Crafters sometimes use the leaves in potpourris and wreaths.
If your bay leaves have turned grey, it's because they've lost their chlorophyll during storage. Replace them with fresh leaves, and store the new batch in airtight containers, away from light.