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The Instacart guide to tarragon


About tarragon

First cultivated in Siberia thousands of years ago, tarragon originates from Russia and western Asia, but most modern producers are in France. This herb grows in a shrub and is a part of the sunflower family. Tarragon comes in three varieties: French, Russian, and Mexican. The leaves of French tarragon are glossy and fragrant. You usually buy this herb in its dried form. The yellow, white, and green flowers of tarragon are also edible.

French tarragon is the standard variety found in stores. It's also the most flavorful of the three varieties. Russian Tarragon is the mildest, and the lesser-known Mexican variety (also known as Spanish tarragon, Texas tarragon, and Mexican mint marigold) is milder than the French variety but more flavorful than the Russian variety.

The uses for this herb depend on which part of the world you're in. Slovenians use it in Potica, a sweet nut roll cake. Hungarian chefs put the herb in chicken soups, and the Persian dish Sabzi Knordan is a platter of vegetables seasoned with tarragon. In Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine, they use tarragon to make Tarkhuna, a green carbonated drink sweetened with tarragon concentrate.

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FAQs About Tarragon

Tarragon is bittersweet and has a very warm and aromatic flavor similar to fennel, anise, or licorice. Some foodies even describe it as having a hint of vanilla flavor. What makes it different from fennel or anise is its light, peppery spice and the cooler sensation of mint that the herb gives its dishes. With this warming and cooling combination of flavors, tarragon provides a unique, tingly sensation on the tip of your tongue.

Many chefs associate the taste of tarragon with spring. It pairs well with mild meats, like salmon and chicken, and acidic flavors like vinegars and lemon juice. It also brings a bright flavor to veal, rabbit, and eggs. It's commonly used to prepare baby veggies like artichokes, asparagus, and carrots. Keep in mind the potency of tarragon's unique flavor when using it in meals. 

Recipes for tarragon vary from soups to salads to meat rubs. Béarnaise sauce is a butter-based sauce that uses the anise scent of tarragon paired with white wine vinegar, egg yolks, lemon juice, and minced shallots. They typically serve the sauce over white meat. Recipes for warm potato salad sometimes call for tarragon, and it's a favorite addition to crab cakes.

Spoiled tarragon is soft and discolored. If it has an off smell, you should throw it out. The same is true if the leaves have wilted, browned, yellowed, or become greyish in color. 
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