A popular and versatile herb, tarragon has an intense flavour that's a unique mix of sweet aniseed and a mild vanilla. The leaves are narrow, tapering and slightly floppy, growing from a long, slender stem. It's a key herb in French cuisine (it's an essential ingredient in sauce Bernaise), and goes very well with eggs, cheese and poultry.
Choose the best
Go for fresh-looking leaves, with no discolouration or wilting. French tarragon is considered to be the best - its flavour is more subtle than the coarser Russian tarragon. Dried tarragon is also available. Or, for a ready supply, keep a pot on your windowsill, or grow in your garden or window box.
Wash, then use whole sprigs or strip the leaves from the stalks and use whole or chopped.
Fresh cut tarragon should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper, placed in a perforated bag and stored in the fridge. It will last for around 4-5 days. Dried tarragon should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place - it should last for 4-6 months.
Use to make sauces for fish and poultry. Add to salad dressings; use to flavour butter or white wine vinegar.