French Tarragon Herb
Growing Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
About French tarragon herb. Growing tarragon Artemisia dracunculus plants. How to use tarragon. How to grow tarragon indoors. Tarragon medicinal benefits.
French Tarragon, Artemisia Dracunculus, a Spice and Flavoring Herb
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French tarragon plants are perennials consisting of aromatic spear-shaped leaves growing along stems that would grow to a height of about 3 feet if they were allowed to. (The herb is usually harvested for kitchen use before it reaches this height.)
The plants do flower but do not produce viable seed. If you see tarragon seeds for sale, they will be for
Russian or wild tarragon
a much easier to grow plant which is not a good substitute for French true tarragon in the kitchen.
How to Grow Tarragon
Set plants a foot and a half apart in well draining, fertile soil in full sun. If the soil does not drain properly, root rot may occur.
If winters are wet where you live, plant your tarragon in a pot and overwinter it indoors.
Artemisia dracunculus needs to be divided regularly or it may choke itself.
Lift the plants every other year. Replant the healthy portions.
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How to Grow Tarragon Indoors
Place the plant in a pot of quick draining soil. Use a light, coarse potting mix. Add a bit of organic fertilizer to the soil before setting the plant in.
The pot should be just large enough to accommodate the roots comfortably. An over-potted Artemisia dracunculus is sure to rot.
Keep the plant in full sun year round. Place it outside during warm weather if you can. Keep it nearly dry during the winter and only slightly moist in the summer.
Use a small amount of organic fertilizer once or twice per season. Be careful of overfeeding the plant as this may reduce the flavor of the leaves.
How to Harvest Tarragon
You can begin to clip sprigs of fresh tarragon about 2 months after planting.
Never remove more than one third of a stem. Stop harvesting when the leaves turn yellow in the fall.
For best flavor, do not allow the plants to bloom. Pinch off the flower buds as they form.
Tarragon Medicinal Benefits
Herb tarragon is mainly a digestive. Chew the leaves to sweeten your breath and stimulate your appetite.
Tarragon herbal tea has a mild sedative effect that will help you get to sleep.
*Women of child bearing age might like to know that French tarragon herbs are mildly menstruation-inducing. The tea can be used to bring on delayed menses.
Tarragon essential oil has the herb's characteristic anise scent and can be added to a hot bath to ease menstrual pain.
*It should not be taken during pregnancy just for this reason.
How to Use Tarragon Medicinaly
Make a tarragon herbal tea.
Steep a teaspoon full of fresh tarragon leaves in very hot water--nearly boiling--for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey if you like and drink it.
How to Use Tarragon in the Kitchen
The main use of French tarragon is in cooking. In fact, it is one of the most important herbs used in French cuisine.
The anise-scented tarragon leaf has a bittersweet licorice flavor for which there are few substitutions. They can be used fresh or dried but they do not dry well.
If you want to store the leaves, either freeze them or preserve their flavor in white wine vinegar.
The flavor of Artemisia tarragon goes well with salads, eggs, sauces (it is an essential ingredient in Bearnaise sauce), and chicken.
One of the most common uses is in tarragon vinegar.
How to Make Tarragon Vinegar
You will need:A sprig of fresh tarragonA small, sterile glass bottle with a tightly fitting lidEnough white wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity) to fill the jar
- Place the tarragon sprig inside the jar after gently bruising the leaves.
- Heat the vinegar and pour it over the herb, filling the jar.
- Cap the jar.
- Remove the herbs after a few days as they will eventually turn bitter.
Your homemade tarragon wine vinegar should keep for several months.
Winter savory herb, Satureja montana L is the perennial sister of summer savory, Satureja hortensis.
Mexican Mint Marigold
Mexican mint marigold, Tagetes lucida is an herb that can be used as a French tarragon substitute. People in Florida call it Mexican tarragon. Texans know it as winter or Texas tarragon.
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