Wednesday, January 26, 2011

French Tarragon

French Tarragon in early spring

French Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) seems to be one of the least familiar of the culinary herbs that are commonly found in dried and fresh forms in grocery stores.
French Tarragon is easily grown in many climates and has a wonderful anise flavor similar in some ways to basil but unlike basil will come back year after year.

French Tarragon rarely sets seed so it is best to purchase a plant. When you see tarragon seed packets they are not French Tarragon and will not have the wonderful flavor and aroma of French Tarragon.

Since French Tarragon is related to sagebrush it can have a wild look to it. Plant French Tarragon in sun in well drained soil either in the ground or in a pot. French Tarragon can get quite large (2' x 2' or more) but since you will be trimming it regularly for use the growth can be easily controlled.

French Tarragon goes well with poultry, fish, meats, salads, and salad dressings, and is often used to make herbal vinegars and oils. Tarragon is an ingredient in fines herbes and BĂ©arnaise sauce.
French Tarragon is also helpful for digestion and do to its numbing effect when chewed has been used for toothache.

Since it does not hold its flavor well when dried it is best to use French Tarragon fresh or freeze for later use. Pesto can be made with a many herbs other than basil – including French Tarragon. Just replace the basil with French Tarragon. Pesto can be made ahead and frozen for later use although some recommend adding the garlic just before use.


  1. Great information. I am expanding my herb garden this year and will have to try to grow French Tarragon.

  2. I grow French Terragon and love the flavor in cooking. This is great information as I have tried drying it for winter use and now know why the flavor gets "lost". I'll have to freeze it from now it. Thank you for the tips.

  3. Welcome Karin and Mari!
    Mari, I forwarded your blog address to a friend who would be interested.