What is Tarragon?
It is most often agreed that tarragon’s name is originated from tarkhum, the Greek word for dragon. However, the reason for this derivation is unclear. Some believe it is reflective of its curled serpentine root formations while others maintain the relevance stems from a belief that the plant would ward off serpents and dragons. Whatever the origin, tarragon is a relative newcomer to the world of spices becoming well-known as a condiment in the sixteenth century in Europe.
Tarragon is originally a native of Siberia and is currently cultivated in France, the United States and Russia. The spice grows as a dense shrub approximately 2.5 feet in height with many branches full of smooth, lanceolate leaves. These dark green leaves may be harvested at short intervals during the growing season. Propogation methods for tarragon are of interest; its tiny flowering tops rarely produce fertile seeds. Therefore, cuttings or root divisions are used to generate new crops.
What is it used for today?
Tarragon’s unique bittersweet flavor and aroma have made it a popular spice in much of Europe, especially in French cuisine. It is an essential ingredient in bearnaise sauce seasonings and is often included in pickling and salad dressing seasonings. It also has a special affinity for poultry and seafood dishes.