Are you among the people who wonder what does tarragon look like, how it grows, its uses, its flavors, and its varieties?
Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is not common both in growing or using it. But it is worth growing it in your garden. This herb is a popular and traditional ingredient in French cuisine. The French use it to enhance the flavors of fish and chicken dishes.
Tarragon is a perennial plant and gives you masses of leaves over several years. This makes it worthwhile to grow it for its continued uses.
What Does Tarragon Look Like?
Tarragon has distinct leaves that make it easier to recognize it. Its leaves are long and slender with pointed tips. Its stems are bright green with perky leaves.
It is difficult to differentiate between two varieties (Russian and French) just by looking at them since they look exactly the same. When in doubt, crush the leaf between your fingers and smell it. The Russian tarragon smells like sweet grass with little anise smell while the French tarragon will smell distinctly like licorice.
Types Of Tarragon
Overall, there are three types of tarragon but two are commonly known – The Russian (Artemisia dracunculoides) and French (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa) are the most common ones. They both belong to the (Asteraceae) family.
1. The Russian Tarragon. It has a fair inferior flavor and can be bland compared to the French variety. It can be cultivated from seed and its leaves are a bit coarse in texture.
2. The French Tarragon. It has a pungent licorice-like taste due to estragole, a component in this tarragon. This variety is cultivated from cuttings or through division. It rarely flowers or sets seeds so it can be difficult to grow. The French tarragon does not like hot weather, too moist soil, or cold weather. It is a high-maintenance herb.
3. The Mexican Tarragon. This tarragon is not as popular as the other two types. It is also known as the Mexican Mint Marigold and can grow up to 35 inches. It’s grown as an annual in temperate regions or as a perennial in hot climates. It has shiny medium green 3 inches long leaves and golden yellow flower heads. This variety produces flowers that are fit for consumption.
How To Grow Tarragon
Tarragon grows in a sunny, warm, and sheltered area and produces strongly flavored flowers.
- French tarragon requires well-drained soils and grows well in good lighting, sandy soils, and low nutrients. It does not thrive in wet conditions or highly rich soils. These unfavorable conditions make the plant die-off.
- Russian tarragon is not as fussy but it does not thrive in wet soil. Tarragon does well in neutral to alkaline soils, not in acidic soils.
Just like mint, tarragon spreads by underground runners but it’s much less vigorous than mint. It is unlikely to be a problem for your garden. If you don’t want it to run, you can grow it in a pot to contain it and put it in a sunny area.
Cooking With Tarragon
Finally, let’s see how you can incorporate tarragon in your daily cooking. It’s best to use it as a fresh or dried herb added to sauces at the last minute to retain its flavor.
In French cuisine, tarragon is a critical ingredient in several secondary sauces like the sauce Bearnaise. These secondary sauces are derivates of any of the five classic mother sauces – Sauce veloute, béchamel, hollandaise, sauce tomat,o and sauce Espagnole.
Tarragon is also one of the best herbs among the classic French fine herbs. This herb has a distinct flavor that quickly overwhelms a dish if not used in moderation. It can be a turn-off for those who are not into the licorice flavor, so you must be careful when using it.
This herb is best for use in fish and shellfish, eggs, poultry, and fresh vegetables. In addition to French cuisines, tarragon is also best for Russian and Eastern European cuisines.
Some other delicious uses of tarragon are:
- Tarragon butter to drizzle on shellfish especially lobster and scallops
- Basil, tomato, mozzarella, and tarragon salad
- Tarragon mayo made from finely chopped tarragon and mayo
- Finely chopped tarragon leaves for your omelet with some little goat cheese
- Tarragon vinaigrette with tarragon leaves, vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and salt drizzled over asparagus, beets, green beans, peas, potatoes, and lentils.
What Nutritional Value Is Tarragon?
Tarragon has much nutritional impact that most people do not know about. It contains a decent amount of calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6.
You don’t just know how tarragon look like, but you know how to grow it and utilize it in your kitchen. Food is a love language and we all love flavorful food that we can make from freshly grown herbs.
This is your chance to grow your herbs and add French cuisine to your family menu.