French tarragon is considered superior to Russian tarragon, which lacks the aromatic oils to impart much flavor or scent.
It is essential in many French dishes, and in the french combinations of herbs called "fines herbes" and "herbes Provencale."
The plant originated in Siberia and was not grown in Europe until the late 1500s, but soon became an important part of European cooking.
Leaves have sweet anise scent. Goes well with eggs, poultry, fish, shellfish and many vegetables.
Used as flavoring in pickles and vinegar. Main flavoring in sauces like Bernaise, rigavote and tartare.
French tarragon is not propogated by seed, but can be taken as cuttings or divisions in early spring when the first shoots emerge.
It may transplant poorly in the fall.
It must be divided every two years or will strangle itself.
Flower stems should be removed to stimulate leaf production.
Set cuttings or divisions 2 feet apart and mulch over winter. It prefers well drained, neutral soils with optimum pH of 6.9.
Do not plant in wet or acidic soils. First harvest should be 6 to 8 weeks after setting out.
Not available by seed. Many sources of herb plants sell French tarragon.
Post-Harvest and Packing
Handle leaves carefully, as they bruise easily. It is best used fresh, frozen or preserved in vinegar.
Dried tarragon is also used, but is inferior in flavor and may turn brown.