The Herb of the Month for March is Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
Tarragon is a perennial herb which is in the sunflower family. It’s scientific name is “little dragon” because of the coiled shape of its roots. This plant can be found wild throughout much of Eurasia and North America, and has historically been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal properties. Some of these historical uses have been for toothaches, hiccups, indigestion, and much more. Today, we know that tarragon has antioxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. This versatile herb is used in our time in the culinary and perfume industry.
Tarragon is highly aromatic with a slight licorice or anise flavor and is commonly used in the French kitchen. It is best as a fresh herb because the tender leaves do not dry well. The mixture fines herbes, a combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives, is often used to contribute subtlety and elegance to French cuisine.
- French tarragon, Artemesia dracunculus has the distinctive flavor sought for culinary use. The flowers are sterile so root divisions and cuttings are used for propagation.
- Russian tarragon, Artemesia dranculoides looks like the French variety but does not have the flavor. The leaves and stem are rougher and it can be propagated through seeds.
- Mexican tarragon, Tagetes lucida belongs to the marigold family. It has the appearance and taste of French tarragon. This cultivar is more able to adapt to the humidity and heat of the Mid-South. Keep an eye out for Mexican Tarragon at the Memphis Botanic Plant Sale.
Find a sunny and well drained location to plant your desired cultivar. It will tolerate partial shade and respond well to pruning.
TIPS FOR “KING OF HERBS” TARRAGON AND RECIPES
- Use fresh tarragon for the best flavor.
- Add it to all types of chicken dishes, sauces, vinaigrettes, fish, and vegetables.
- Strip the leaves from the stems and cut with a sharp knife. Do not bruise this tender herb.
- The stems can be used to flavor white wine vinegar.
- Frozen tarragon is more flavorful than the dried herb. Strip the leaves and lay out on a baking sheet in the freezer. Place in zip lock bag when frozen.
- Add this herb at the end of cooking to preserve its fresh flavor.
- Store the fresh herb in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag and refrigerate.
Tuna Salad with Tarragon
- 1 7 ounce can Albacore Tuna
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt plain
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup celery chopped
- 1 green onion chopped
- lemon juice to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- Dijon mustard to taste
- Combine all ingredients and serve with sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden.
Carrot Soup with Tarragon
- 2 Tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 1 small rib of celery chopped
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon fresh tarragon
- salt & pepper to taste
- Half & Half
- Sautee all vegetables in olive oil until tender. Add broth and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes until fully tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables. Add the chopped fresh tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add a dash of Half & Half just before serving.
- 1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon
- 1 cup boiling water
- Grated ginger optional
- Honey or fresh orange juice as sweetener
- Pour boiling water over the leaves and let them steep for 5 minutes.