(Artemisia dracunculus) By Gael (Plot 234)

The two main tarragons are French and Russian, the French one being considered superior and more delicate in flavour. It is used extensively in French cuisine being one of the four main herbs in “fines herbes” (the others being parsley, chives and chervil). The French called it estragon, meaning little dragon so called because it was thought to cure bites and stings of venomous animals.

The favour is sweet with a slightly bitter tang with a touch of aniseed. It is famous in the two French sauces, béarnaise and hollandaise. In France it is often combined with chervil in salads, eggs, meat and poultry, it is delicious sprinkled on fresh vine ripened tomatoes and goes well with asparagus, artichokes, avocado and mayonnaise. The fresh young shoots steeped in vinegar makes fragrant vinegar to be given as a gift or used in savoury dishes in place of plain vinegar.

French tarragon grows to about one meter tall and is a shrubby perennial with slim pointy dark green leaves. It flowers in summer with small whitish green flowers unless the weather is to cool. Flowering stems are cut of to encourage vigorous growth and propagation is usually by division of underground runners or planting cuttings.

It is originally from Siberia and Asia preferring warm, well drained soils in a sunny position. It needs replanting every few years to promote a strong and healthy plant.

Medicinally it is reputed to be good for indigestion, worms, toothache and rheumatism.

Try out the recipe of Tarragon Pear, enjoy!