Tarragon, a member of the Composite tribe, closely allied to Wormwood, is a perennial herb cultivated for the use of its aromatic leaves in seasoning, salads, etc., and in the preparation of Tarragon vinegar.
Two kinds of Tarragon are cultivated in kitchen gardens. The French Tarragon, with very smooth, dark green leaves and the true Tarragon flavor, which is a native of the South of Europe, and Russian Tarragon, a native of Siberia, with less smooth leaves of a fresher green shade and somewhat lacking the peculiar tartness of the French variety.
Tarragon as an Herb for Medicinal Use
French tarragon. French tarragon grows from old roots each year to 2 to 3 feet in height. The leaves taste like anise and can numb the tip of the tongue when chewed. Use sparingly for a warm, subtle, highly desirable flavor. Diffuses quickly through other ingredients.
French cooks usually mix their mustard with Tarragon vinegar. You may use French tarragon in many dishes. See culinary uses below.
Russian tarragon. Russian tarragon has lighter green leaves. Their flavor is grassy and without the anise hint or the power to numb.
A mild infusion of Tarragon is used to treat insomnia and hyperactivity. It stimulates that appetite and aids in digestion.
Russian Tarragon is eaten in Persia to induce appetite.
The root of Tarragon was formerly used to cure toothache.
In traditional folk medicine, tarragon has been used for digestive problems and intestinal worms. Used externally for joint pain.
Tarragon is mentioned in the PDR for Herbal Medicines but is not classified as an approved herb by the German Commission E.
Tarragon is also used as a commercial flavoring and in perfumery.
Culinary Uses of Tarragon
Tarragon is more culinary than medicinal. Good frozen or dried for many uses as a seasoning. Also used to make delicious tarragon vinegar.
Flavor when dried best preserved by placing on a plate, then putting in a frost-free refrigerator uncovered to dry out. This method preserves the color and delicate flavors of herbs like tarragon and chives.
To make Tarragon Vinegar: Fill a widemouthed bottle with the freshly gathered leaves, picked just before the herb flowers, on a dry day. Pick the leaves off the stalks and dry a little before the fire. Then place in a jar, cover with vinegar, allow to stand some hours, then strain through a flannel jelly bag and cork down in the bottles. The best white vinegar should be used.
Folklore & Magickal Uses
The plant's name comes from the French word for "dragon," esdragon. It was credited with being able to treat snakebite and ease fatigue. Pilgrims in the Middle Ages put sprigs of it in their shoes before starting their journeys.
Tarragon was thought to cure the bites and stings of venomous beasts and mad dogs.
Did you know?
The word tarragon stems from the Latin word dragon because tarragon plants have serpentine root systems.
Some sources do not recommend tarragon as an herb for pregnant women.
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