French Tarragon has long, slender, waxy leaves in a silvery green. The flavour is sweet and lively with tongue tingling aniseed tones and a minty lift. It is also called true tarragon. It is limited to summer availability as it doesn't grow through winter.
French Tarragon complements fish and chicken superbly, as well as matching with eggs and summer vegetables including salad greens, asparagus, green beans, peas, tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini. As the name suggests, it is at the heart of much French cuisine and is a vital ingredient in the traditional herbes fines combination, and béarnaise, rigavote, and tartare sauces. It can be infused into vinegar for dressings, relishes, pickles, and added to soups and stews.
French Tarragon has mild anaesthetic properties, which you will notice if you chew a small amount of the fresh leaves and feel a slight numbness on your tongue. It has a calming, soothing action that relieves stress and anxiety and encourages a sound sleep.
Store in the fridge in the vegetable drawer in original punnet. Use within two days of opening. It can also be frozen by roughly chopping and placing in a zip-lock bag, as is or with olive oil added. Flatten the contents of the bag to make it easy to break into portions. Freeze overnight. An ice cube tray can also be used by pouring a little water or olive oil over the chopped herbs inside the tray.
Culture and History
The origin of French Tarragon is lost to history, as some reports claim it has always grown in Southern Europe while others say it is native to Siberia and Mongolia, and was carried to the Mediterranean in the 13th Century. Reports of cultivation in Europe are no older than 600 years. The name tarragon, and the French, Herbe au Dragon, refer to the serpentine shape of the herb's roots.