Tarragon is a herb that has many uses in cooking and can be used to flavor dishes.
It can be used in many different types of dishes and recipes, including soups, sauces, dressings, eggs, fish dishes, and more.
The plants are most often grown in gardens for culinary purposes because they can be used as a seasoning and attract beneficial insects.
Tarragon is what gives French cooking its distinctive taste.
In this article, we’ll give you what tarragon tastes like, what it looks like, how to cook with it, and more.
What is Tarragon?
Tarragon is a perennial, herbaceous plant that produces pink flowers.
It can grow up to two feet high and has oval leaves with a rough texture.
It can be found on roadsides, in gardens, and even in moist forests.
The leaves are usually green with white stripes or veins running along the stem, and they look like a cross between basil and mint leaves.
If you break off a leaf from one of these plants, it smells just like licorice.
There are two types of tarragon: French tarragon and Russian tarragon.
French tarragon is the most common of these two, which has a sweeter flavor than Russian tarragon.
They can be easily planted in containers or windowsills, and the leaves can be harvested throughout their growth.
As a seasoning, it can be used in recipes for chicken dishes and stews.
The most popular dish is tarragon vinegar sauce which is usually served with salads or fish.
The leaves can also be used to make tarragon vinegar.
This is done by soaking the leaves in red wine vinegar, then adding honey and water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Nutritional & Health Benefits of Tarragon
Tarragon can be used in herbal teas, such as camomile or peppermint tea, to improve digestion and help with discomfort from stomach ulcers.
It also has antimicrobial properties that protect from foodborne bacteria such as listeria and salmonella.
Tarragon is often used as a natural remedy for anxiety and insomnia because of its carminative properties, which help break up gas and bloating.
It’s also recommended for symptoms related to hay fever due to its anti-inflammatory effects on tissues lining the airways.
Tarragon is also considered a natural remedy for headaches and as an auxiliary treatment in rheumatic conditions.
The most beneficial use of tarragon is adding fresh leaves to honey every day.
This provides plenty of manganese which helps break down carbs to prevent them from being stored as fat and calcium that strengthens teeth and bones.
There are also cardiovascular benefits that help lower blood pressure and improve circulation to the heart.
What Does Tarragon Taste Like? Does Tarragon Taste Good?
If you’re wondering what dried tarragon tastes like, it should be noted that the flavor of this herb will vary depending on where and how it was grown.
As explained in an article from The Huffington Post, French Tarragon is stronger than Russian or Mexican varieties because they are grown for higher yield and quality in Europe.
“French tarragon has a richer, more intense flavor”.
According to Culinary Herb Specialist Evan Jones, Russian tarragons tend to have lighter flavors with a milder aroma, while Mexican Tarragon tends to taste similar to Italian basil.
Tarragon has a distinctive flavor that is hard to describe.
It can be used as an herb in cooking, or it can also be sprinkled over sandwiches and salads.
It has been described as tasting like licorice but without sweetness.
The tarragon leaves are thin at the stem end, with a bit thicker stems closer to where they attach to the root system.
Tarragon tastes peppery when eaten raw and fresh taste more delicate than dried tarragons—slightly sweet and floral, often compared to oregano or thyme–but not nearly as strong-tasting.
Dried tarragon can be used in almost any type of dish.
It is often added to meat dishes, sauces, and soups as a flavoring agent.
Compared to fresh tarragon, dried is more concentrated and has a stronger flavor.
The leaves are browner than fresh ones, and they may be crumbly or crisp to the touch.
What Does Mexican Tarragon Taste Like?
Mexican tarragon is a perennial herb that tastes slightly different than its European counterpart.
The Mexican variety has an earthy, mint-like flavor with hints of lemon.
It’s most commonly used in traditional mole sauces and chicken dishes but can be substituted for any recipe needing French tarragon.
The aromatic leaves are thin and dark green, which sets them apart from other herbs like rosemary or parsley (thicker leaves).
This plant grows best under dry climates similar to the Mediterranean region, so you may find it growing wild on hillsides near olive groves.
What Does Tarragon Sauce Taste Like?
Tarragon sauce is a creamy, white sauce that tastes like anise or licorice.
It has the consistency of mayonnaise and can be used as a dipping sauce for French fries, onion rings, fried mushrooms, chicken fingers, and more.
Tarragon sauces are often found on top of shrimp cocktails and crab cakes to add extra flavor.
How to Cook with Tarragon?
If you are familiar with mint, the tarragon flavor should be familiar to your palate, as it falls into the same family.
Tarragon has aromatic leaves that are perfect for cooking or as an herb to flavor sauces and dressings.
The taste of tarragon is slightly sweet and reminiscent of licorice root (anise).
It can be used fresh or dried, but it’s best when added near the end of cooking time, so its flavor doesn’t dissipate too quickly.
- Add chopped tarragon to vegetable dishes like stir-fries, curries, ratatouille, or soups such as borscht.
- Combine chopped tarragon with garlic cloves in butter for bread dipping.
- Sautee shrimp on low heat with tarragon.
- Add one teaspoon of chopped, fresh tarragon to a cup of sour cream and use it as a dip for vegetables like carrots or celery sticks.
- Add tarragon to mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs.
- Use dried tarragon in sauces such as béchamel sauce. Add the herb just before adding the cream so that it retains its flavor. The longer you cook your sauce with dried herbs, the more intense a taste profile they will give your dish.
How to Choose Fresh Tarragon?
Like many herbs, tarragon is a plant that becomes more aromatic and flavorful the closer it gets to harvest.
It also changes in appearance.
When buying fresh tarragon, the most important thing to remember is that it should be bright green and have a nice, strong fragrance.
If the leaves are wilting or browning, then they should not be used for cooking purposes.
Also, the more frayed and tattered the leaves are, the stronger it is.
If you find any wilting leave, then discard them as they will make your food taste bad.
How to Store Tarragon?
In the fridge, tarragon can last anywhere from weeks to months.
The shelf life of fresh leaves is approximately ten days in a refrigerator; dried or frozen, they will keep for up to one year.
Tarragon does not need any special treatment unless exposed to extreme heat (above 120º F), which could cause the flavor to dissipate quickly and should be discarded if this occurs.
The best storage space outside the refrigerator would be in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark place.
The leaves can be dried in an oven on low heat before being crushed, so they are easily stored at room temperature without spoiling too quickly.
Dried leaves should be used within six months but will still have great flavor if you don’t use them all right away.
In conclusion, tarragon is a herb with a strong, spicy flavor paired with white wine or vinegar.
Tarragon can also be mixed in to make different sauces and soups for chicken dishes.
If you’re looking for an herb that will change your dish up from the traditional basil, tarragon could be just what you need.