Tarragon

This “dragon herb” packs a monster flavor.

Have you been bitten by a dragon recently? Try tarragon for your wound. Also called Herbe au Dragon in France, tarragon has been used to treat a variety of bites and stings through the ages. Did we mention that Red Tomato is not officially licensed to offer medical advice?

Tarragon is a staple of French kitchen gardens. Bearnaise sauce, a derivation of Hollandaise, is a well known vessel for tarragon leaves. The herb pairs well with fish, chicken, eggs, mushrooms and vegetables. Be sparing in use; fresh tarragon leaves have a strong flavor which can overwhelm dishes.

A traditional use of tarragon is in the preparation of tarragon vinegar, an infusion of fresh tarragon leaves in the best white wine vinegar. Similarly, tarragon is a common pickling spice.

There is also a Russian variety, which is less aromatic and a bit harsher in taste. A popular Eurasian soft drink, Tarhun, is flavored primarily by tarragon.

Fresh tarragon has an anise taste which is lost when the herb is dried. Generally, tarragon’s flavorful volatile oils dissipate during drying, making tarragon a must-try fresh herb.

Storage

To store fresh tarragon for long periods, freeze or infuse into white wine vinegar. For shorter periods of storage, keep in the refrigerator or on your counter in a glass of water. Dried tarragon should store in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.