How to store tarragon

Tarragon Plant Harvesting: Tips On Harvesting Tarragon Herbs

Tarragon is a delicious, licorice flavored, perennial herb useful in any number of your culinary creations. As with most other herbs, tarragon is cultivated for its flavorful leaves rich in essential oils. How do you know when to harvest tarragon though? Read on to find out about tarragon harvest times and how to harvest tarragon.

Tarragon Plant Harvesting

All herbs should be harvested when their essential oils are at their peak, early in the morning after the dew has dried and before the heat of the day. Herbs, in general, can be harvested when they have enough leaves to maintain growth.

As tarragon is a perennial herb, it can be harvested up until late August. Be advised to stop harvesting tarragon herbs one month before the frost date for your area. If you keep harvesting tarragon herbs too late in the season, the plant will likely keep producing new growth. You risk damaging this tender growth if temps get too chilly.

Now you know when to harvest tarragon. What other tarragon plant harvesting info can we dig

up?

How to Harvest Fresh Tarragon

First off, there is no specific tarragon harvest time date. As mentioned above, you may begin harvesting the leaves as soon as the plant has enough to sustain itself. You are never going to denude the entire plant. Always leave at least 1/3 of the foliage on the tarragon. That said, you want the plant to attain some size before hacking at it.

Also, always use kitchen shears or the like, not your fingers. The leaves of the tarragon are very delicate and if you use your hands, you will likely bruise the leaves. Bruising releases the aromatic oils of the tarragon, something you don’t want to happen until you are just about to use it.

Snip off the newer baby shoots of light green leaves. Tarragon produces new growth on the old woody branches. Once removed, wash the shoots with cool water and pat them dry gently.

When you are ready to use them, you can remove the individual leaves by sliding your fingers down the length of the shoot. Use leaves removed in this manner immediately since you have just bruised the leaves and the time is ticking before the aroma and flavor wanes.

You can also individually snip the leaves off the shoot. These can then be used immediately or stored in a freezer bag and frozen. The entire sprig can also be store in a glass with a bit of water at the bottom, sort of like keeping a flower in a vase. You can also dry the tarragon by hanging the shoots in a cool, dry area. Then store the dried tarragon in a container with a tight fitting lid or in a plastic bag with a zip top.

As fall approaches, tarragon’s leaves begin to yellow, signaling that it is about to take a winter sabbatical. At this time, cut the stalks back to 3-4 inches above the crown of the plant to prepare if for the successive spring growing season.

Food Storage – How long can you keep…

  • How long does fresh tarragon last? The precise answer to that question depends to a large extent on storage conditions – after purchasing, keep tarragon refrigerated at all times.
  • To maximize the shelf life of fresh tarragon in the refrigerator, wrap the tarragon in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
  • How long does fresh tarragon last in the fridge? Properly stored, fresh tarragon will usually keep well for about 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator.
  • Can you freeze tarragon? Yes, to freeze fresh tarragon: (1) Wash, trim and chop the tarragon; (2) Allow to dry thoroughly; (3) Once dry, place in heavy-duty freezer bags or freeze in ice cube trays with a small amount of water, then transfer to freezer bags.
  • How long does tarragon last in the freezer? Properly stored, it will maintain best quality for about 4 to 6 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only – tarragon that has been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How to tell if tarragon is bad or spoiled? Tarragon that is spoiling will typically become soft and discolored; discard any tarragon that has an off smell or appearance.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please

How to dehydrate and preserve tarragon – whether you grow it in your backyard herb garden or buy it fresh from the produce section, tarragon is easy to preserve, and makes a tasty addition to your food storage!

Tarragon is one of those herbs people don’t pay much attention to when starting an herb garden, but miss out on a wonderful flavor! Tarragon is incredibly easy to grow, and preserves really well! We’ll walk through how to use different preservation methods to keep Tarragon in your stock all year long!

As you all know, I’m always on the hunt for a great bargain, and when I ran into a clearance on packaged fresh tarragon, I was happy!! Because we weren’t able to expand our garden this year, my herb beds were functionary (basil, thyme, oregano), and I was running out of many of the dried herbs I keep on hand. So I stocked up!

While I prefer to use fresh herbs as much as possible, dried herbs bring more intense flavors for long-cooking dishes, and store better for long-term.

A Tip: The rule of thumb is to always use 3 x the amount of fresh herbs when a recipe calls for dried. You can use dried herbs in the middle of the cooking process, but fresh herbs should be used towards the end for a more flavorful dish, if possible.

HOW TO PRESERVE TARRAGON

There are various ways you can preserve Tarragon and other fresh herbs.

  • Dehydrate them / air dry them (see below)
  • Freeze them (see below)
  • Infuse oils
  • Make flavored salts
  • Make flavored butters
  • Make flavored vinegar

Before you begin any process of preservation, be sure to

  1. Inspect your leaves and stems and remove any that are not optimum for saving;
  2. Wash your tarragon in water to remove any chemicals, sprays or dirt from leaves and stems. While I often use a heavy vinegar soak on vegetables and non-protected fruits, I do a general rinse for herbs.
  3. Lay leaves and stems out to dry.

HOW TO DEHYDRATE TARRAGON

►Quick Instructions: Dehydrate at 95F | 35C for 3-8 hrs.

Always preheat your dehydrator when you begin to prep your produce, and dehydrate at the appropriate temperatures. Running at 160F doesn’t make things dehydrate faster, it just promotes case hardening, which you don’t want!

1. Wash Tarragon stems

Lay out your stems on your dehydrator trays. They can touch as they do shrink a bit, but don’t mound them up.

Temp & Time: Dry at 95F for 4-6 hours, depending on your humidity level.

Check for Doneness: If they are brittle, they are done. I recommend pulling a stem out and allowing it to cool down, then testing for doneness. If you get a great crackle when you crush leaves between your fingers, you are good to go.

• Learn more: How to Dehydrate Herbs without a Dehydrator

3. Remove Leaves From Stems

Once done, remove the leaves from the stems. Chop dried leaves into smaller pieces to use to make herb blends or to store for use on its own. You can simply rub between your palms, or you can use a knife, it’s up to you.

How to Store Dried Tarragon

Store in an airtight container and in a cool, dry, dark place if possible. I do happen to store my daily use herbs in magnetic canisters on the side of my fridge, but I store the bulk dried herbs in my pantry where it’s dark.

I put my excess dried herbs into a small vacuum-sealed bag to help keep it fresh for the coming year.

How to use Dried Tarragon

Other than adding to any dish as you normally would, here is a nice herb blend that I love:

Fines Herbes Blend

  • 1 TB tarragon
  • 1 TB chervil
  • 1 TB chives
  • 1 TB parsley

This herb blend is wonderful on chicken, in alfredo pasta, in salads and more. You can multiply it out as much as you need, and adjust flavors a bit if you’d like. You can purchase it already made here if sourcing chervil is a problem.

Get even more printable worksheets by joining The Purposeful Pantry Resource Library! Get free printables in an ever-growing library to build your food storage!

Want more?

If this intrigues you to start more of your own dehydrating projects at home, be sure to check out the dehydrating section here on the blog, and subscribe to my newsletter where you’ll get more projects delivered to your mailbox each week, plus it will give you exclusive access to my Resource Library This is the place you can download ALL the printables and exclusive content! I’m also posting tutorials on my Youtube channel, and would love for you to join my Dehydrating Tips and Tricks group on Facebook for more immediate help and ideas!

How to Freeze Tarragon

1. Always wash your herbs

Wash in water to remove any debris. Layout out flat on a tea towel to dry.

2. Strip the leaves

3. Prepare

Place 2 TB in each compartment and cover completely with oil or water.

4. Store

Store your cubes in airtight containers or in baggies with all of the air removed to prolong freezer-life.

5. Toss

Toss your tarragon nuggets into stews and soups and they will thaw and flavor your food.

►► TIP>> Budget-friendly Dehydrator Tools

Creamy Tarragon Chicken Salad

Only a pesto chicken salad can rival this chicken salad for me. I love ones that let the chicken flavor stand out – not the mayo flavor of so many. You can skip the sour cream and add a little more yogurt plus some lemon juice if you prefer.

  • 2 cans canned chicken (or use freshly roasted chicken chunks). I really like Kirkland’s canned chicken that I keep stocked in my pantry.
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (make from powdered milk)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 2 TB fresh tarragon, chopped – less if you are using dried
  • 1 TB fresh mint leaves (less if you are using dried)
  • 1 finely chopped apple
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Directions – Mix all ingredients and store in refrigerator – serve with crackers, on homemade bread, etc.

Whether you buy it from the store or grow it in your herb garden, tarragon is a great herb to preserve for use throughout the year, in many different ways. These step by step instructions make it easy for you to do so. And be sure to apply these preservation methods to other herbs.

How To Dry Herbs Master List

  • How to Dry Herbs Six Ways
  • Greens
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon

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Tarragon

A popular and versatile herb, tarragon has an intense flavour that’s a unique mix of sweet aniseed and a mild vanilla. The leaves are narrow, tapering and slightly floppy, growing from a long, slender stem. It’s a key herb in French cuisine (it’s an essential ingredient in sauce Bernaise), and goes very well with eggs, cheese and poultry.

Choose the best

Go for fresh-looking leaves, with no discolouration or wilting. French tarragon is considered to be the best – its flavour is more subtle than the coarser Russian tarragon. Dried tarragon is also available. Or, for a ready supply, keep a pot on your windowsill, or grow in your garden or window box.

Prepare it

Wash, then use whole sprigs or strip the leaves from the stalks and use whole or chopped.

Store it

Fresh cut tarragon should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper, placed in a perforated bag and stored in the fridge. It will last for around 4-5 days. Dried tarragon should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place – it should last for 4-6 months.

Cook it

Use to make sauces for fish and poultry. Add to salad dressings; use to flavour butter or white wine vinegar.

Alternatives

Try fennel.

Fresh Tarragon and Its 5 Best Uses

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: All this month we’ll be stocking up on fresh herbs to get our spring fix. Next up, tarragon.

Shop the Story

Label something as “King” (see especially: beers and burgers) and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment—they rarely live up to their regal name. Luckily, when the French do something, it tends to be more promising. Tarragon is known as “the King of Herbs” in France, and in this case it’s a well-earned title. Tarragon is a mainstay in French cooking and an essential ingredient in both Béarnaise sauce and the combination of herbs known as fines herbes.

But its royal status hasn’t carried over stateside—not yet anyway. When we add fresh herbs to a dish, we’re far more likely to reach for basil, chives, or even the polarizing cilantro, only procuring tarragon when a recipe calls for it. It’s time for that to change. This spring, vow to start using this versatile anise-scented herb more often.

If you’re a licorice-hater, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to hate tarragon, too—give it a shot. It doesn’t have a harsh flavor; Kristen describes it “like licorice chilled out and went to the countryside.” Our beloved thirschfeld adds: “The smell is a magical anise elixir, packed with the promise of the other herbs that will follow close behind: lovage, savory, chervil, and chives.”

More: If you can’t get enough of tarragon’s anise flavor, salty licorice might be the candy for you.

You’re most likely to find French tarragon at the grocery store—which is good because it’s the one you want. If you end up with tarragon with a tamer flavor, you might have found Russian tarragon, which Jack Staub refers to as the “far-heartier-of-habit but infinitely less tasty surrogate.” If you’re wondering why anyone would bother with a less-tasty tarragon, the “far-heartier-of-habit” bit means it actually likes poor soil conditions and puts up with neglect and dry spells. So not only can Russian tarragon thrive in adverse conditions, but it can also be grown from seed—French tarragon rarely produces viable seeds, so new plants have to be propagated by root division or stem cuttings.

A final type, Spanish tarragon, isn’t in the same genus as the first two, but it’s still a better substitute for French tarragon than Russian tarragon is (sorry Russian tarragon). It has wider leaves and is a little milder and sweeter in flavor.

Store tarragon in the fridge, either loosely rolled in a damp paper towel and then placed in a plastic bag or in a jar of water loosely covered in plastic. Tarragon is not well-suited for drying, as it loses a lot of its flavor. If you want to save some for later, follow Deborah Madison’s suggestions: “Working tarragon into herb butter or steeping branches in oil or vinegar is perhaps a better way to preserve its flavor, at least for a limited time.”

More: Here are 5 ways to flavor your butter with fresh herbs.

Once you’re ready to starting using your fresh tarragon, strip the leaves (2, pictured far above) from the stalks (1, far above) and chop it up (3, above) as needed for your use. Remember to add it at the end of cooking; otherwise, its flavor will be diminished. Here are 5 foods that could use more tarragon:

Potatoes
If you’re not sure how you feel about tarragon, try it first in comforting potato dishes, like a potato salad or a springy one-pot meal with pork shoulder, new potatoes, and peas.

Eggs
Add fresh tarragon to all sorts of egg dishes, from scrambled to deviled.

Seafood
Tarragon plays well with a variety of fish, from salmon to tuna to snapper—and even works in a dipping sauce for fish sticks. Use fresh tarragon with bivalves like clams and scallops, too.

Poultry
Try fresh tarragon in every type of chicken dish you can think of—chicken salad, chicken pot pie, chicken coated in a creamy tarragon sauce—and duck dishes, too.

Sauces
Next, add tarragon to sauces—all of the sauces: pesto, aioli, sauce gribiche, and green goddess dressing. Then go wild and add tarragon to a savory whipped cream with capers, a lemony dip with lima beans, a walnut and anchovy sauce, and this Semi-German Green Sauce.

But don’t stop with those five suggestions! Hang onto the last of citrus season and pair tarragon with grapefruit in a gin and tonic, with tangerines in a citrusy sorbet, or with blood oranges in a roasted capon. Tarragon also pairs perfectly with fresh spring vegetables like radishes, asparagus, baby turnips, and scallions.

Bonus: While tarragon is one of the first herbs to appear come springtime, that doesn’t mean you have a limited amount of time to use it. As Deborah Madison says: “You might think of it as a stronger version of chervil, but unlike that delicate annual umbellifer, tarragon is a perennial and it is hearty, putting out its fragrant needle-shaped leaves all summer long and into the winter, though not necessarily through it.” So keep tarragon in mind when the farmers market is overflowing with summer produce: Pair it with zucchini and summer squash, fava beans, watermelon, and carrots.

Tell us: How do you like to use tarragon?

Sauce gribiche photo by Eric Moran, all other photos by Mark Weinberg

If basil is the flavor of sun-drenched summers, then tarragon is a pure taste of spring. And if Italy owns basil, it is the French who have made tarragon their own. The sweet anise-like flavor of this slender green herb is essential in staples like béarnaise (the classic sauce for filet mignon), roast chicken with mustard and cream, and the fines herbes mix (also including parsley, chives, and chervil) that seasons everything from sauces for fish and chicken to simple vinaigrettes. Sprigs of tarragon are often used to flavor white wine vinegar.

HOW TO BUY

Available year-round but best in the spring, tarragon should be fresh looking, not wilted, with a strong aroma and bright-green color.

HOW TO USE

To preserve its flavor, add fresh tarragon near the end of cooking. Like basil, tarragon can turn black when chopped. To prevent this, drizzle a little olive oil over the herb before chopping; the fat in the oil coats and protects it. Don’t forget: A little tarragon goes a long way.

To chop, pinch your fingers together and run them down the stem in the opposite direction from the way the leaves have grown. Then bunch the leaves together in a small pile. Rock your chef’s knife up and down, positioning the fingers of your free hand on the spine of the knife to guide it, pushing chopped leaves together with the blade to get as fine a chop as you’d like.

Add finely chopped tarragon (start with a teaspoon) to a Dijon vinaigrette recipe. Or blend chopped tarragon into softened butter and use it to make a pan sauce for sautéed chicken or fish, add to a broth (with a dash of cream) for steamed mussels, or toss with sautéed veggies.

HOW TO STORE

Tarragon freezes easily, so store it wrapped in a paper towel in the warmest part of the fridge, usually the top shelf, or stem side down in a cup of water like a bouquet of flowers.

See also:

VIDEO: How to Chop Herbs

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