Welcome to the LWTM – ‘Cooking with herbs’ blog series

In this blog series you will find historical information and recipes about the most commonly used kitchen herbs. They do not only add flavour, but they also make a positive impact on our health and well-being. To find out more about other kitchen herbs, please type ‘cooking with herbs’ into the search box.

Tarragon  – artemisia dracunculas

Tarragon belongs to the Artemisia family, (like dandelion and vermouth) and comes originally from Siberia and the West coast of the US. It grows over 1m tall and has fine green leaves, which are very aromatic and used in the kitchen. 

But tarragon has also medical properties and is  especially helpful for the digestion, kidney and bladder, rheumatism and gout. People used to drink  tarragon water: Boil one litre of water and leave three to four tarragon twigs in the water, then sip this water throughout the day. Its main health properties is to help the digestion, especially with bloating, but also aids with the production of urine and helps with the general elimination process. It is also an antiseptic and can rid the body of worms and parasites.

It was brought to Europe throughout the Middle Ages by the Crusaders who returned from the Middle East. It was used as a treatment for foul breath, toothache and anaemia. The word ‘tarragon’ is believed to come from ‘tarkhun’ which means little dragon in Arabic, as it was used to heal snake bites. Another herbal recipe prescribes chewing tarragon will help with persistent hiccups.

Tarragon In the kitchen:
Its aromatic fresh leaves are used in the French or generally Mediterranean kitchen. Tarragon has an aromatic property reminiscent of anise due to the presence of estragole. Taste to put in conjuction with helpful properties for the digestion make it a favourite kitchen herb and it can be found in sauces, such as sauce Bernaise or as flavouring in mustard, soups, salads and even as tarragon vinegar.

 Sauce Bernaise:
Ingredients: 1 tbsp water, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 small onion (chopped),
I chopped tarragon leaf (keep the stalk), 1 egg yolk, 75g melted butter, salt and pepper to season. 

  • Place the vinegar, water, onion, and tarragon stalk into a small saucepan over a medium heat and simmer, until you have half a tablespoon of liquid remaining. Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the egg yolk and tarragon vinegar reduction into a food processor and blend together until light and frothy.
  • With the food processor still running on its slowest speed, add the melted butter, 1 tbsp at a time, until the sauce is thick and smooth. Be careful not to over beat the mixture as it may separate.
  • Stir in the chopped tarragon and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

this sauce works well with steak and steamed vegetables

Tarragon salad dressing: 

Ingredients: 1 tsp of chopped tarragon, 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, 5 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp of wine vinegar, salt & pepper to season.

Mix all these ingredients together in a big salad bowl and then top up with fresh leaf salad mixed with ruccola or raddicio salad. Mix the salad, so the dressing coats lightly all the leaves.