French Tarragon

A hardy perennial herb, French Tarragon is grown for its narrow, strap-like leaves. It is valuable in the kitchen and is considered one of the basic necessary herbs for any kitchen. It is especially valuable in sauces and many other French dishes, particularly containing chicken.

Tarragon isn’t as common in the United States as black pepper, basil or oregano, but perhaps it should be. The herb is slightly peppery and has a taste that’s somewhat similar to fennel, anise and licorice. In addition to being quite flavorful, tarragon supplies a small amount of iron and has certain health benefits, as well.

Nutritional Highlights…
In addition to iron, tarragon supplies trace amounts of several other vitamins and minerals, like potassium, calcium and vitamin A.

Research and Medicinal Highlights…
Tarragon has been used for medicinal purposes in the past. Tarragon has been used as a numbing agent and as a treatment for snake bites, though there isn’t definitive proof that it’s truly effective for either. Tarragon might have anti-fungal and antimicrobial compounds, suggesting it can be useful in treating certain types of infections. Tarragon has compounds that fight free radicals, as well. The herb might also be effective in treating diabetes because it helps regulate blood sugar levels.

Dried tarragon is available in the spice section of supermarkets, but the fresh form is much harder to find. If you’re able to locate fresh tarragon, look for sprigs that have straight leaves that aren’t wilted or yellow. You might also consider growing your own tarragon in an indoor pot. Store fresh tarragon in a plastic bag in your refrigerator and use it within a week for the best flavor and quality. Store the herb in vinegar as another way to preserve it — this method also infuses the vinegar with a bold flavor. Add fresh or dried tarragon to grilled meat, stew, scrambled eggs or tossed green salads. The herb also enhances the flavor of sauces, such as Hollandaise, as well as pasta and soup recipes.

A side note…
Russian tarragon is often grown and used as a substitute for French tarragon, despite its inferior taste. Primarily used/grown because it is able to tolerate much cooler temperatures. The taste of Russian Tarragon does significantly improve the longer it is left to grow.


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