Tarragon, a perennial herb belonging to the sunflower family, is a popular ingredient in many culinary dishes due to its distinct anise-like flavor. Originating from Eurasia and North America, this green, aromatic herb enhances the flavor of various dishes, including poultry, fish, and sauces, making it a valuable addition to home cooking.
Fresh tarragon is easily identified by its long, slender leaves that sprout from a central stem. When used in moderation, the herb imparts a gentle flavor to dishes, while also providing health benefits, such as antioxidants and essential nutrients including vitamins A and C.
People often misuse fresh tarragon by adding it too early in the cooking process or using too much of it. Too much tarragon can overpower other flavors, and cooking it for too long can lead to it losing its unique flavor. Fresh tarragon is best added towards the end of cooking to retain its flavor. Be aware that dried tarragon has a much more intense flavor, and you should use less if you're substituting it for fresh tarragon.
To get the most out of fresh tarragon, store the stalks in a glass of water or wrap them in damp kitchen paper and put them in the fridge. This will keep the herb fresh and vibrant for a week or more. Another trick is to freeze the tarragon leaves in an ice cube tray filled with olive oil or broth. These cubes can be added directly to recipes for a sudden burst of flavor.
When purchasing fresh tarragon, look for bright green leaves without any dark spots, as these indicate decay. Always wash your fresh herbs before using them to remove any dirt or bugs. Tarragon works well with eggs, poultry, and seafood, and it can also be used to add a fresh taste to tomato sauces. Infusing vinegar with fresh tarragon is another popular use for this herb.
What does fresh tarragon taste like?
Can I use dried tarragon in place of fresh?
How do I cook with fresh tarragon?
How do I store fresh tarragon?
Why are my tarragon leaves wilting?
What dishes is fresh tarragon used in?
Can I grow my own fresh tarragon?
What are the health benefits of tarragon?
Can I infuse vinegar with tarragon?
Can you eat fresh tarragon raw?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does fresh tarragon expire?
Fresh tarragon, when kept on your countertop at room temperature, wilts and loses its vibrant green color within 2-3 days. If stored in the refrigerator, however, it can last up to a week or more. An unopened glass jar or canister of dried tarragon can last for up to 3-4 years if stored properly. Once opened, dried tarragon maintains its best quality till a year but is still safe for consumption even when it loses aroma or flavor beyond that.
How do you tell if fresh tarragon is bad?
To check if fresh tarragon has gone bad, look for Wilting or discolored leaves which are signs of degradation. Sniff it - as it starts spoiling, it loses its distinct anise-like smell. Fresh tarragon should also be firm to the touch - if it's slimy or soggy, it's past its prime. In the case of dried tarragon, loss of aroma and flavor is your clue. If it smells stale or lacks its characteristic scent, it's time to toss it.
Tips for storing fresh tarragon to extend shelf life
• Wrap fresh tarragon in a damp paper towel, place it in a sealed plastic bag and store it in your refrigerator's vegetable drawer for maximum shelf-life.
• Freezing fresh tarragon can extend its life by several months. Place the tarragon sprigs in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air before sealing. It will darken over time but retain flavor.
• Dried tarragon should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark, dry place.
• To further extend the shelf life of dried tarragon, you can keep it in the refrigerator.
• Remember to seal the container tightly after each use to prevent moisture and air from entering.
• Always use clean and dry spoons for taking dried tarragon out to prevent moisture from spoiling the rest.