Also known as French true tarragon. Fresh tarragon is only available during the summer and early fall months. Refrigerate fresh tarragon for up to a week and keep dried or powdered tarragon in a cool, dry place.
Tarragon is an exceptional herb. It has a subtle and sophisticated flavor and is an essential herb in French cuisine. It's flavor is delicate and almost licorice or anise-like. Tarragon is native to Siberia.
Tarragon, together with parsley, chervil, and chives make a traditional French blend, Fines Herbes. Tarragon is exceptional in egg dishes, poached fish, mushrooms and other vegetables.
Tarragon is good with chicken and in salad dressings. It is often used in sauces like béarnaise and French cuisine. Tarragon is also often used to infuse vinegar and olive oils.
Cultivation of Tarragon
Site: Tarragon likes a full sun and sheltered area in rich light and dry soil. It is very important that it has good drainage; add sand or grow it in a large container to make sure the roots will not rot and die. Bring it indoors, either as a potted plant or take cuttings, to grow over the winter months as it sometimes does not come back the following spring because of wet soil.
Propagation: The true French Tarragon has the best flavor and cannot be grown from seeds as this plant will not flower. Cuttings must be taken in order to reproduce this plant which makes it more expensive and harder to find.
Growing: Thin or transplant plants to 12 to 18 inches apart. Cut back in autumn. Protect in winter with straw or mulch. Tarragon is suitable for growing indoors. Remove flowering shoots to maintain the supply of fresh leaves on the bush.
Harvesting: Pick leaves anytime. Main crops occurs in late summer (June to October). If cutting branches, sever maximum of one to two-thirds of branch to allow for regrowth, unless it is the end of the growing season. Tarragon does not dry very well so freezing is the best method to preserve the flavor.
Culinary Uses: Chop the leaves very fine to extract the flavor for cream sauces and béarnaise sauce. It can be added to chicken or tuna salads, omelets and quiches, mayonnaise and mustard salad dressings. Try making flavored butter and combine with dill and parsley for baking or broiling fish. Chopped leaves can also be steeped in wine vinegar to produce tarragon vinegar.