2.11 Tarragon

Photo: Artemisia dracunculus 4. Latin names:
French tarragon: Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa
Russian tarragon: Artemisia dracunculus var. inodora
Mexican tarragon / Mexican Mint Marigold: Tagetes lucida. See 2.38.

2.11.1 Growing tarragon

>... can't grow tarragon in East Texas...

From: southsky.maui.net (Rick Giese)
Texas in summer is probably too hot for French Tarragon. You might experiment with a fall planting. French Tarragon is the preferred type for cooking, and will not grow from seed.

From: Lawrence.H.Smith.williams.edu (Lawrence H Smith):
French Tarragon may not be frost hardy in Finland, but in milder climes, particularly with a bit of mulch, it should be. It can also be potted for the winter. It likes full sun (though again, I'm not in Texas, so I can't say for there). Give it any sort of reasonable soil (it's not overly picky). The major growing tip is to divide it frequently (every 2-3 years), or it becomes rootbound. So keep giving plants away to your friends once you have enough for your own use...

2.11.2 Harvesting tarragon

From: Lawrence.H.Smith.williams.edu (Lawrence H Smith):
While it's growing, the best bet is to just harvest fresh whatever you need for today by picking off leaves or tips of branches with multiple leaves.

For collecting a lot (drying, vinegar, etc.) you can cut back all the branches by about 2/3rds, whereupon you should leave them for 8 weeks before doing so again, supposedly. Personally, I only do a major cutback of this sort when clearing out before frost, so the time between cuttings is just what some book said, not experience.

2.11.3 Using / preserving tarragon

From: mrooney.mrooney.pn.com (Michael Rooney)
Tarragon pesto with pecans is a pretty good way to save it.

From: HeK
Vinegar recipe, anyone? That IS the classic way to preserve tarragon. You can also dry it or freeze it or freeze it in oil.

From: Lawrence.H.Smith.williams.edu (Lawrence H Smith):
Vinegar recipe, if you like. Clean/sterilize a canning jar. Stuff with Tarragon. heat white vinegar (or wine vinegar) to/near boiling. Pour into jar, seal, put in dark place. Strain off into another jar at a date depending on your tarragon taste tolerance - 2-6 weeks, or leave it until used. Adjust amount stuffed & time to taste. A canning jar is used primarily to reduce the likelihood of the jar cracking when boiling vinegar is poured into it.

Tarragon dries well - ideally, hang the branches in a dark warm place (such as an attic, or in a paper bag), and then collect the leaves into a jar for storage when dry. It freezes alone with a lack of fuss that suggests that freezing in oil is probably not worth the bother. You can also make up a flavored oil in a similar fashion to the vinegar recipe, though boiling the oil would not be a good idea...(warming it a bit might help).

From: Donna Beach <phuyett.CCTR.UMKC.EDU>
Here's another tarragon recipe. I found it in *the Herb Book* by Boxer & Blck

Baked Eggs with Tarragon

3 sprigs tarragon
2/3 cup light cream
sea salt & fresh black pepper
4 large eggs

Strip one teas of the best tarragon leaves from the sprigs and chop them. Put the rest in a small pan with the cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover the pan, and leave for 20 minutes. Strain the cream and
add salt and pepper to taste. Break each egg into a buttered individual baking dish and stand them in a roasting pan with enough hot water into to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Cook in a moderate oven 325 deg F until the whites are almost set. Pour a little cream over each one, just enough to cover the surface, then return to the oven for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped tarragon and serve immediately.

This book--a nice coffee table book which offers tips on growing herbs and history of herbal lore--also includes a recipe for scrambled eggs with tarragon. Two tablespoons for eight eggs. You then serve the eggs on pumpernickel toast.

There's also a recipe for tarragon soup using a roux from chicken stock, cream, egg yolk, salt and pepper and fresh tarragon--about four cups of stock and six sprigs of tarragon. That one's easy enough to figure out on your own, and strict vegetarians would make adjustments for the egg and cream.

2.11.4 Which tarragon do you have?

From Henriette:
There are 2 kinds of true tarragon: Artemisia dracunculus var.sativa (French tarragon) and Artemisia dracunculus var.inodora (Russian tarragon). The French tarragon cannot be grown from seed, it's taste is finer but it isn't frosthardy. The Russian tarragon can be grown from seed, it's taste isn't so good but it will survive outdoors in Finland.