This Bay Leaf Trick Will Repel Pests From Your Pantry

If you've ever had to buy an entire pack of bay leaves to make a recipe that calls for one measly leaf while the rest of the leaves go sadly unused, we have a suggestion to help you feel a little less wasteful. Bay leaves might have an unconventional (but practical) use beyond just adding flavor to recipes. According to Delish, if you put some of those leftover bay leaves into your canisters of flour, pasta, or rice, they can actually help repel bugs.

The Houston Press also touts bay leaves as a cost-efficient bug repellent. According to the outlet, fresh bay leaves can be used to deter a host of creepy-crawlies, including roaches, weevils, ants, and silverfish, which American Pest notes is not a fish but a small, silvery insect that moves in a fish-like motion — eek! It's safe to stick a bay leaf directly into your bags of cornmeal or flour without the flavor soaking into your dry goods, but another option is to tape fresh bay leaves inside your cabinets or under your appliances. The Houston Press recommends swapping out the old leaves for fresh ones every few months for optimal bug-be-gone benefit.

Are bay leaves good for anything else?

After dropping a single bay leaf into a big pot of soup, you may have wondered if it will even have any substantial effect on the dish's overall taste. We know we have! Some lively discussions have taken place about whether bay leaves actually bring anything to the table, and The Awl reached out to a number of chefs to get their take on the great bay leaf debate.

Beloved late chef Anthony Bourdain weighed in, saying he does use bay leaves, "particularly for cream sauces and poaching liquid (court bouillons) for fish." He also said he could see how the flavor could get lost in "more forceful dishes like beef stew." Chef Sohui Kim of Insa also saw the benefits of bay leaves. "In long slow cooking forms, I firmly believe in the power of the bay leaf," she told The Awl. She also pointed out that she keeps fresh bay leaves in the refrigerator and dried bay leaves in the freezer.

If you're still not sold on buying bay leaves, you may already have an acceptable substitute in your cupboard. According to Raw Spice Bar, depending on the recipe, you might be able to substitute thyme, oregano, or basil. If you do decide to spring for some bay leaves, remember, you can also use them for another priceless purpose: trying to keep those pesky silverfish at bay!