Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Tarragon - The French Love It

A popular and versatile herb, tarragon has a strong distinctive flavour, which can be described as a mix of aniseed and vanilla. The leaves are formed as slightly floppy, narrow and tapered growing from its long, thin stem. The French love tarragon and their cuisine uses it extensively, and example is the sauce BĂ©arnaise where tarragon is the most essential ingredient. The tarragon herb goes very well with eggs, cheese and many poultry dishes.

When choosing tarragon look for fresh looking leaves that a have a vibrant colour and no wilting. Most chefs agree that the French tarragon is best. The flavour is subtler compared to the coarser Russian tarragon.

Going back in time the ancient Greeks use tarragon to treat toothache by chewing the leaves. It has properties that are able to numb the mouth. It also has the facility to help prevent heart disease. It was also know to be used during the Middle Ages as an antidote for poisonous snakebites.

Tarragon is used primarily in cooking nowadays, but still has medicinal benefits when added to foods. It is not just the ancient Greeks who knew it is great for the digestive system as well as relieving stomach cramps and promoting appetites.

It is also in many folk remedies for toothaches. It can be used to promote menstruation and fights fatigue as well as an aid to calming nerves. Interestingly enough tarragon can also be substituted for salt, this is perfect for people with high blood pressure and those who wish to reduce their salt intake.

The herb can easily be grown at home in containers for up two or three years with no special care. They can be taken indoors in the winter if you have a sunny windowsill. One plant should be more than enough for an average sized family's requirements.

Tarragon vinegar can be bought but at a price and is never as good as the homemade type, so the recipe is given here for your benefit. It can be used in conjunction with many other recipes but mainly with salads, which turn them into something special.

Tarragon Vinegar Recipe

Ingredients Needed:

White wine vinegar
Glass bottle, with an airtight cap
Fresh tarragon leaves

Three Step Method:
  1. Fill the bottle with the tarragon leaves and cover with vinegar
  2. Leave to stand for 2-3 months in a cool dark place
  3. Strain into another container and it is ready to serve

Last, but not least is the use of tarragon as a cure for hiccups. When hiccups occur, just chew one leaf and they will stop.

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