Estragon

Artemisia dracunculus L.

A distinction is made between two types of tarragon: German (also called French) and Russian. The two differ in terms of their aroma, the Russian variety being somewhat stronger. Tarragon grows 60 to 150 centimetres high and has slender, lanceolate, untoothed leaves. Only the young, tender shoots are picked. If tarragon leaves are to be dried, they are not harvested until shortly before blooming.

Countries of origin

Europe, Near East, India
Southern Europe, Siberia, Mongolia and south Asia are the native regions of the wild herb. It is believed that the crusaders brought tarragon from Asia Minor to Europe, where it was planted and cultivated in herb gardens. While tarragon plays an important role in French cuisine, it is virtually unknown in Spain and Italy. The primary sources of tarragon today are the Balkan States, France and the vegetable and herb country Holland.

Flavour and aroma

Tarragon has a sweet aroma, even though it tastes slightly bitter and acrid. The fresh herb is very flavourful and should be used sparingly. The flavour is most intense when combined with lemon juice and vinegar. Tarragon tends to obscure the taste of other spices. German tarragon has a pleasantly pungent and aniselike flavour; Russian tastes somewhat bitter and more like chervil. Soups, salads, fish, meat, poultry and game, marinades, herb butter, herb dressings and herb vinegar Tarragon is a classical spice in French cuisine. In famous vinaigrette dressing, it is served with asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms and cauliflower. But like basil, it also goes well with tomatoes, salads, vegetable soups and herb sauces. Tarragon adds a mildly spicy flavour to meat broths, marinades, as well as meat and fish stews. It is a special delicacy in mayonnaise and remoulades served with cooked fish. In addition, it is used to make tarragon vinegar and tarragon mustard.


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