Tarragon is a perennial herb that is part of the sunflower family and is commonly used in Mediterranean recipes. Tarragon is aromatic and has an earthy flavor with a mild licorice taste.
Health Benefits of Tarragon
More research needs to be done in order to confirm the positive outcomes of adding tarragon to your diet, but initial findings suggest that tarragon promotes a number of positive health effects.
Tarragon has long been used in traditional folk medicine as a treatment for pain. Studies show that tarragon has analgesic properties, which helps with pain reduction. 1
Additionally, tarragon contains both manganese and iron. Manganese promotes brain health and iron is essential for cellular function. 2 3 Tarragon has antibacterial properties and may be an effective preservative for some foods. Studies show that the herb can improve insulin sensitivity. 4 5
Tarragon is used heavily in the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with improved cardiovascular function, reduced inflammation, and better overall health. 6
Fresh vs. Dried Tarragon
Both fresh and dried tarragon have health benefits. Fresh tarragon has a more robust flavor and can be kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days, or until the leaves begin to turn brown. Fresh tarragon can be difficult to find in the colder seasons, so in order to reap the health benefits all year long, you may want to dry your own.
To dry tarragon, assemble the stalks into small bundles and tie a piece of string around each bunch to secure and rinse the leaves before drying. Hang the bundles stem-side up in a dry place away from direct sunlight, such as in a garden shed, garage, or basement. Position a wide basket or tray underneath the hanging bundles to collect any leaves that may fall during the drying process. Leave your tarragon bundles hanging up for 7-10 days, until the leaves feel completely dry and crunch when you crush them between your fingers.
Store dried tarragon in an airtight container kept in a cool, dark place and it will stay flavorful for 4-6 months.
How to Use Tarragon
Tarragon’s flavor pairs well with savory dishes. Use it as a seasoning on roasted vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, sprinkle it on your morning eggs, or add it to salad dressings as shown in the recipe below.
Beet Carpaccio with Tarragon and Dark Greens
This hearty salad is packed with nutrients from beetroot, beet greens, and fresh tarragon. Serve it as a side with meat, poultry, or fish or enjoy it alone as a light meal on a hot summer day.
Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.
1 bunch organic red beets (with greens)
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (for dressing)
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1⁄4 cup chopped raw walnuts
Separate beets from greens. Scrub beets well and slice thinly on a mandolin. Arrange on a platter in a single layer. Wash the greens, spin dry and chop into bite-size pieces.
In a shallow pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the greens until wilted. Arrange on top of the beet slices.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, tarragon, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper.
In a small frying pan, dry toast the chopped walnuts until fragrant. Gently spoon the dressing over the beets and greens, sprinkle the toasted walnuts over and serve.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in the healing capacity of food and other natural health practices, naturopathic medicine may be a good fit for you.