Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I love tarragon.  I put it in eggs, salads, chicken, seafood, and salad dressing (it's delicious in vinaigrette!).  Unfortunately, it's hard to find in the grocery stores around here. It's a sad consequence of my rural lifestyle.   Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found some at my local nursery.   After tasting a leaf to be certain it was true tarragon, I snapped it up.

True French tarragon is a tender, temperamental perennial that propagates via cuttings and runners. It does not grow from seed.  Any seed you see sold as "tarragon" is likely to be Russian tarragon, which has little flavor.  A true tarragon plant has an unmistakable anise "zip" to it.  Some even call it "numbing".  I call it tasty!

I keep my tarragon plants on the south side of the house, near the foundation, in an area I call "The Kitchen Garden".  It's where I grow my perennial herbs: sage, rosemary, chives, thyme, oregano and marjoram.  It's warmer in the winter and well drained, perfect for delicate Mediterranean plants.   In the summer, it's lightly shaded from the worst of the heat by this shrubby purple floribunda rose, whose name escapes me right now.

I usually let the tarragon over winter in the kitchen garden, under an insulating blanket of straw, but we don't usually have winters this consistently cold.  Sometime in December, I panicked.  I didn't want to lose my tarragon.  So, during a thaw,  I went outside, dug it up, potted it and brought it into the house.   I was sure I had killed it.  But, after sitting in the sunroom looking dead for two months or so, it's coming back to life!  I guess tarragon is tougher than I gave it credit for...

Just for fun, here's one of my favorite tarragon recipes.  It's great on salad, but even better as a marinade for seafood!

Citrus Vinaigrette:

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar or any other light vinegar will do.  I've even used plain white wine for marinades, and it came out great.) 
1/3 cup citrus juice  (I usually mix orange and lime.  Orange, pineapple and lime also makes a tasty combo)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste (sometimes I use soy sauce in place of salt.  I think it gives it a an Asian flair.)

If I'm using this as a marinade, I usually add a clove of garlic, too.  

To me, a recipe is just a suggestion.  I'm always manipulating and tweaking things.  If you try this recipe let me know in the comments how you liked it and if you made any changes.  Or if, you have your own tarragon recipe that you love, leave it in the comments, I'd love to hear it!


  1. If for no other reason, tarragon is a great plant because it comes up so early in spring! Chives deserve a medal for the same reason - they're so very encouraging right about now. The recipe looks fabulous - looking forward to trying it.

  2. Thanks for reminding me about tarragon, I think it is just about the only herb I don't grow yet. I will try your vinaigrette recipe.

    Is your purple florrie Burgundy Iceberg?

  3. What a coincidence! I was just telling my husband last night how much I love tarragon as I was wrapping salmon in foil to bake with tarragon, scallions, lime juice, and ground pepper. The brand Wild Harvest has very good tarragon in Acme and Genuradis in PA.

  4. I've never tried growing this. Sounds quite versatile. Love the purple rose, too!

  5. This is a good recipe. I too have one that is very similar and it tastes great when you grow your own tarragon. Fresh is always the best.

  6. I have tarragon in my herb garden too. I was thrilled to see it coming back up this morning after being dormant all winter.


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