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In search of tarragon

Early this winter on an unbelievably beautiful day, I had the urge to dig. I tackled a neglected portion of my herb bed. After digging and pulling, I inhaled first with pleasure at a familiar scent which quickly turned to a deep sigh of despair. A closer look revealed that I had exhumed my “mother” tarragon plant from her winter resting spot She was a pile of tangled roots. The roots looked almost “Medusa-like”, sprawling about, refusing to conform to any sense of order. (No surprise that tarragon means "little dragon" because of its serpentine root system). According to herbal lore, tarragon had magical qualities and was known as the “vanishing herb”. (You write down the very thing you want to “banish” on piece of paper, then proceed to burn it with the tarragon). As a nutritionist, this would be so useful in my practice of dietetics (if it really worked). Imagine, just for a moment, if only we could “banish” all of our extra body fat by writing down our wishes, burn them, and somehow “20 pounds of belly fat” …poof…gone! Sadly, there is no magic pill or spell to make those "muffin-tops" disappear. That requires another type of burn - exercise! (For most adults, that means 150 minutes per week). The narrow, pointed, dark-green leaves and flowering tops of the bushy perennial plant Artemisia dracunculus have a mild anise-like flavor. Tarragon is widely used in classic French cooking for a variety of dishes including chicken, fish and vegetables, as well as many sauces. I prefer vinaigrettes as they are not high in fat - just flavor! I am not French, but I use tarragon as seasoning staple. The good news is, this past weekend, I found a pleasant surprise in my herb bed. I actually have tarragon (many) re-sprouting! “She” has made a very strong come-back. In fact, my mid-winter digging may have helped my tarragon. No permanent vanishing acts in my garden! In fact, I'm now hoping now for a bumper crop. Recipe: Homemade Tarragon Vinegar I first became enamored with herbal vinegars after starting my own herb garden. They take a simple meal and turn it into something exquisite. Tarragon vinegar was of course, first, so I could master a béarnaise sauce and salad dressings Basically, you take about 2 cups white wine vinegar, a pint size mason jar or decorative glass bottle, and about 1 cup of fresh French tarragon leaves (four to five 5-inch sprigs). Fill a pint sized mason jar or bottle about half full with freshly picked French tarragon leaves that you rinsed well and patted dry. Bruise the leaves a bit to release the essential oils. Fill the jar/bottle with white wine vinegar. Make sure to mix the leaves and add more vinegar to fill so that the leaves are covered. Close the lid or cork the bottle and allow to sit in cool dark place for 2-4 weeks. I then use this for béarnaise, vinaigrette, or just to sprinkle on steamed spinach. In Good Health, Barbara


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