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Information about Tarragon plus Tarragon Recipes Collection



Ingredient of the Month 

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October  2001


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History and Origin of Tarragon 

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus L.) is a perennial herb grown for its aromatic leaves in seasoning, salads, etc.  It belongs to the plant family Asteraceae ( aster family) and originates from Central Asia, probably Siberia. The plant was introduced to Europe  in the late Middle Ages and to Britain around 1548 although no-one knows exactly when the aromatic varieties were first bred. The name Tarragon is a corruption of the French Esdragon, derived from the Latin Dracunculus (a little dragon) a name which was given to the plant due to its root system which coils like a dragon.

Processing and cultivation of Tarragon  

Tarragon grows to a height of about 2 feet and has long, narrow leaves. It blossoms in August, the small flowers being yellow mingled with black rarely fully open. The roots are long and fibrous, spreading by runners. It's a little tender and needs protection during cold spells. It makes a good pot gown herb. Use the fresh leaves from June to October. Any surplus can be frozen or dried. Freeze leaves which have been stripped from the stems and wrapped in clingfilm. Dry complete stems (with leaves, in a very cool oven, leaving the door ajar. Alternatively, pick long stems, tie in bundles and hang upside down in a cool airy place for 2-3 weeks.


 Cooking with Tarragon

Fresh Tarragon has a deceptively strong flavour and should be used sparingly. It  makes it a wonderful addition to  poultry and  fish dishes, creamy herb sauces (and an essential in Bernaise Sauce), green vegetables, and in particular, mushrooms. It is, however, most popular for salads; frequently, it is used to flavour vinegar or oil for salad dressings. It is also a component of the famous "Fines Herbes" mixture (parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon).

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