There are a few herbs that are simply not to be missed in the kitchen. This also includes tarragon. Incidentally, it not only tastes freshly harvested, but also dried.© HandmadePictures - Fotolia.com
The aromatic tarragon belongs in every herb garden. In a sunny location, it also grows well in the balcony box. So any tarragon can really plant it. Freshly picked, it rounds off many dishes perfectly. If you have a lush tarragon plant, you can also dry the spicy herb for the stock. It is very easy.
When is the right time to harvest?
Tarragon is ready for harvest from late spring to autumn. For everyday needs, you can cut off the tips of the shoots and use the leaves. Shortly before flowering, the aroma is particularly intense due to the high proportion of essential oils. You can see from the buds whether the flowering period is imminent. If you want to dry or conserve tarragon for the next winter, now is the perfect time for a larger harvest. But be careful not to lose too much weight in the first year so that the sticks can develop well.
On a dry morning, cut off the amount of tarragon you need for your herb supply. Leave some branches for ongoing use until late autumn.
Dry tarragon - that's how it's done
Bundled herbs that are hung up to dry look nice - but this procedure doesn't make sense with tarragon. A peculiarity of the herb is that the aroma flows back into the stems after cutting. You can prevent this by pulling the leaves off the stems immediately after the cut. You then have two options for drying the tarragon:
❍ Let the tarragon air dry:
When you have smeared the leaves, spread them loosely on a clean cloth and leave the harvest in a dry and shady place until it is completely dry. If you rub a leaf between your fingers, you will feel whether it is completely dry. It takes a few days. Residual moisture should no longer be present before storage so that the tarragon does not mold.
❍ Dry the tarragon in the oven:
The tarragon dries faster in the oven. Again, only use the leaves that you spread out on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. A drying temperature of 30 to 40 degrees is sufficient. It is important that you put a wooden spoon in the oven door. Then the moisture can escape faster. However, please do not use forced air, otherwise the leaves would be whirled through the oven.
Once the tarragon has dried, it is best to put the leaflets in tightly closing metal tins or dark-tinted glasses. Transparent jars with a screw cap are also possible, but must then be dark.
Alternative conservation options
You can also freeze tarragon. The aroma lasts up to three quarters of a year. The culinary herb is also very suitable for flavoring vinegar and oil. Simply pour a little mild white wine vinegar or a mild olive oil into a bottle and add some tarragon branches and leaves. The tarragon not only looks decorative, it also gives off the taste of the vinegar or oil.