Jun 182012
 

Polyculture tarragon in polytunnel

My friend Emma has started Project Nosh to eat as many of the edible plants in her garden before she moves.

One of the plants Emma wants ideas for is French tarragon (artemisia dracunculus). The dracunculus in the Latin name means ‘Little Dragon’, perhaps referring to the teeth like shape of the leaves or its serpent like roots. I promised to blog a recipe for tarragon vinegar so that Emma could take the wonderful warm anise flavour with her.

To find out more about how we grow tarragon and for the recipe please read on.

Tips how to grow tarragon

The tarragon in the picture above was split up and moved from my little polytunnel to the big one in spring. It’s recovered really well. Tarragon does repay splitting up regularly. It’s a great gift to give too. My tarragon has gone as far as Rome, Wiltshire and Hertfordshire this year.

I’m planting the big polytunnel as a big type of forest garden. I’ll blog more about this soon. For the tarragon it means being planted under a Kiwi ‘Jenny’ and then planted around it are lettuces, a strawberry and nasturtium. I’ve planted some fenugreek next to it as a green manure and curry crop for ‘methi’.

The tarragon sprouts from its roots in spring, produces stalk of up to 1m which then flowers in late summer. It will then die back in the winter. We’ve tried growing outdoors. Some years it survived but some not. So we now plant it in the polytunnel for protection. It’s a plant that spreads by its roots. So if you grow it outside it’s good to give it plenty of space. Or plant in a pot and move it indoors for the winter.

When you harvest the fronds, take no more than two-thirds of the stalk. The stalk will resprout from the leaf axils.

You can propagate tarragon by dividing the roots in spring. Or you can take stem cuttings in the summer. French tarragon does not set viable seed. If you are offered tarragon seed it’s for a much rougher variety of Russian tarragon.

Tarragon vinegar recipe

I’ll give you the quantity here to make 500ml, the recipe will scale up or down easily.

Ingredients

500ml white wine or cider vinegar
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon less than the height of your bottle, washed if necessary and well dried. Leave the leaves on the stalks.
1 sprig of tarragon for bottle identification (needed later)

Method

Heat the vinegar in a saucepan till just warm but not boiling (about 40°C). The slight heat helps brings the volatile oils containing the flavour out into the liquid. It’s not essential, but I think you get a fuller flavour if you do this.

Pop the tarragon sprigs into your chosen bottle and pour on the warmed vinegar. Cap the bottle and pop it on a sunny windowsill. Shake gently every day or so and leave for 2-3 weeks.

Take out the tarragon sprigs and replace with the fresh sprig to identify the bottle. Or just label the bottle. With some herbs you may need to strain the vinegar through muslin or a coffee filter before you re-bottle.

Uses & variations

I love this vinegar used in vinaigrettes, mayonnaise , partnered with all kinds of green beans, fish and chicken.

You can use any fresh herb you like with this technique. It’s also great for capturing the flavour of edible flowers such as lavender, pinks, nasturtiums, elderflowers, primroses, violets and roses.

 Posted by at 07:56

  11 Responses to “Tarragon vinegar recipe”

  1. Fabulous! Have been looking for things to do with the tarragon sprouting in my polytunnel & will now make some vinegar, thanks 🙂

  2. My French Tarragon is doing really well so this is a great opportunity to save some of its delicious taste and use later on in the year-thank you Carl!

  3. I have green swathes of French tarragon growing this year, so I’m making tarragon vinegar this week. Thanks for the method on this. Years ago I was warned off this because the person said I’d poison myself with botulism. As you’re still alive and writing prolifically, I assume you’re not dead. 😉

    • Hi Misky, I think botulism mush more a risk with herb oils. The acid in the vinegar should be hostile enough – as you say, I’m still here (I think)… Perhaps now not the time for existential philosophy 🙂

  4. PS say hi from me to Emma – wierd I’m sending greetings to her in in Wales via you, when she lives just a few miles away!

  5. I love tarragon with chicken and what a lovely way to help Emma with her Project Nosh 🙂

    I’m also bookmarking it ready to add to Salad Days at the end of the week if I may?

    Thanks for the Versatile Blogger award. I was in such a foul mood on Saturday after spending 6 hours on Corsham High Street in the (often vain) hope someone would ask me a question about gardening. I was wearing a long t-shirt, fleece, overcoat and gloves – in June!

    Your citation was just the ray of sunshine I needed at a very low point. I love your drawing too 🙂

    • Hi Michelle

      I’d be very happy for you to add it to Salad Days, thank you.

      Your Saturday doesn’t sound fun at all. I’m pleased to have cast some warmth on the end of your day.

      I would draw more if there were 48 hours in a day 😀

      I’ll pass on your good wishes to Emma when she arrives 🙂

  6. Hi Carl, just found you via Emma’s blog comments and popped over for your Tarragon growing tips (my 2 year old plant remains stunted at 4 inches, so I want it to get bigger!). Great tip about using the vinegar method with edible flowers, I imagine this would be lovely over an edible flower salad. Hmm, will be keeping my eye on your blog …. !

    • Hi Caro, nice to meet you. You could always top dress the tarragin with some nice compost to see if it perks up. I’m heading over to come and visit your place on the web… 🙂

  7. It’s a lovely vinegar this one, I have just sweetened mine up – since discovering fruit vinegars, I have also started to slightly sweeten my herb vinegars. They then make delicious salad dressings without any oil.

    I have thyme and tarragon made, and am thinking about making lemon balm as I have lots of that in the garden. And I’ll make oregano when my little plants are bigger :).

    Never can get tarragon plants (true French that is) to grow for me, they always just die away. So I’ve given up, was too expensive in the end. Now I just buy it :((

    • Hi Lynne, a nice idea to sweeten the vinegars and use en plein. I’ll give that a go. Let me know how your other herb ones go 🙂

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