Tarragon is a leafy green herb widely used in French cuisine. Its distinctive yet subtle herbal flavour is particularly well suited to use with fish and chicken, and as part of vinaigrettes and sauces. The appeal of tarragon tends to come from its understated side, so a gentle hand yields more successful results and helps its unique flavour—which has hints of anise—from overwhelming all other flavours in a dish. People tend to either love it or hate it, so consider your audience when adding it to dishes.
Tarragon is an essential ingredient in the French sauce Bearnaise as well as certain combinations of herbs. It is also a popular herb used in flavored vinegar.
When and Where to Buy
Tarragon is a spring and summer herb. It will show up in winter in warmer climates and at the end of winter in temperate climates (or from growers using greenhouses). Otherwise, fresh tarragon is usually only available in spring and into summer in cooler areas. Like many green herbs, heat will cause tarragon to bolt and turn bitter, so while it may still fill the herb garden with its fragrance later in the summer, taste it before using it if the weather’s been warm.
Tarragon isn’t as common as parsley or cilantro, so you may need to hunt it down at speciality stores such as Leons Fruit Shop in Golders Green