French cuisine lovers always talk about the tarragon aroma. However, you may never know what does tarragon smell like? Here we are to give you a brief explanation of the tarragon smell.
Tarragon is the “KING of herbs” in France. People who love French cuisine must be familiar with the tarragon aroma and flavor. It adds a fresh and spring flavor to various recipes. To give an elegant touch to the recipe, this herb is one of the best additions.
Specialists claim it is derived from the sunflower family, and you will find mainly three types of tarragon: French, Russian, and Mexican tarragon. However, there is a significant difference in smell between these types. So before adding a specific type of tarragon, know about its smell and flavor.
Origin Of Tarragon
The history of tarragon origin is very old. It has been said that this herb was cultivated over 600 years ago by native Mongolia, and they call it a dragon or estragon herb. Later, Mongols brought tarragon to Italy around the 10th century when they invaded there.
At that time, tarragon was popular for its medical benefits. But, then, it has been gradually popular in England, the United States, South Europe, and some parts of Asia. At present, tarragon is known as the most aromatic herb and is added to many recipes as seasoning.
What Does Tarragon Look Like?
Tarragon plants grow 35-60 inches high, and the plants have long branched stems, skinny and glossy green leaves. They give clusters of small yellow flowers on the stems. All flowers produce seeds, but some are feasible, and some are infertile. These plants are perennial types, and they will grow back every year.
What Does Tarragon Smell Like?
Tarragon is widely used for its highly aromatic flavor. It springs a distinctive smell that is familiar to licorice and anise or a mixed smell of mint and celery. Fresh tarragon provides a beautiful scent, but excess use of it can overpower a dish. As we discussed first, there are three sorts of tarragon, and they smell like:
French Tarragon Smell
French tarragon is the most popular herb, which is mainly found in western Asia. This type of tarragon smells like sweet anise. It is grown in a tempered zone area and used for culinary purposes. Most people use French tarragon in traditional béarnaise sauce. Moreover, you can pair it with the top of soups, salads, fish, chicken, or turkey.
French tarragon takes an extended time to grow and grows up to 24 inches high for nearly two years. Their flowers are tiny, sterile and they also spread a beautiful anise smell.
Russian Tarragon Smell
Russian tarragon very closely looks like French tarragon, but the plants and leaves are higher. Actually, it is a variation of French tarragon. Russian tarragon has a much less mild smell than the other two types of tarragon. This is not used for culinary purposes.
This type of herb is paired with more delicately flavored elements. It doesn’t have a pungent taste and only gives a smell of licorice. These plants are much easier to grow.
Russian tarragon is very prevalent in European cooking. You can add tarragon springs with white wine vinegar to enjoy a classic dressing. Or pair with other herbs for stews or soups. As this tarragon has a mild flavor, you should use it at the end of cooking so that the herb doesn’t deplete the smell. Besides, gently crush the herbs before using them for the seasoning.
Mexican Tarragon Smell
Mexican tarragon is not a variation of the French or Russian tarragon. It is a marigold plant, also called Tagetes Lucida. Mexican herb smell like rich-anise flavor means it is stronger than French tarragon. Therefore, this herb is not true tarragon. Since the smell of the leaves is very similar to French tarragon, it is called a variation of tarragon. Many people get confused about what does Mexican tarragon smell like. But the flowers are indeed marigold.
Unlike French and Russian, you can serve the Mexican tarragon for culinary purposes. It is an ideal stand-in substitute for French tarragon. Mexican tarragon is a large plant, and each plant can grow up to 2 to 3 feet long. This herb should use at the end of cooking time as it is more delicate than French tarragon.
Tarragon is a great fragrant herb that is used in many dishes. You will find a wide number of tarragon recipes. Many ingredients are suitable for tarragon flavor pairings. For example:
- The most common pairing is with meat such as veal, lamb, chicken, and turkey.
- For its pungent taste, it is better paired with acidic flavors like lemon and vinegar. The tarragon vinegar mixture is used in salad dressings, soups, stews, and marinades.
- Seafood and eggs.
- Traditional potica is actually a sweet nut roll cake.
- Combined with different types of sauce.
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Tarragon Smell: Fresh Vs Dried
You will get a huge difference between fresh and dried tarragon. This difference is really obvious. Tarragon is a delicate herb, so it loses its volatile and the smell becomes faded during the drying process.
Many chefs or home cooks don’t prefer dry tarragon as it loses its fine and exact characteristics. The fresh tarragon offers an appealing flavor. Imagine you are using one teaspoon of fresh tarragon on a dish. If you use dried tarragon, then the measurement will be 1 tablespoon. So if you like the authentic aroma and flavor, use the fresh tarragon.
There is a different process to use the dry and fresh tarragon. In the case of cooking with fresh tarragon, just use your fingers and chip the stem from the top down. You need to rinse and let dry before cooking. Be careful; they are very delicate and bruise easily. The leaves can be chopped or added to the whole.
When you are using fresh tarragon, add them at the end of cooking. Do not leave them for long cooking, as they will be bitter. But dried tarragon can be used earlier as it won’t diminish the flavor.
Storage of Tarragon
You can store the fresh tarragon at room temperature or keep it in the refrigerator. For room temperature storing, take a glass of water and place tarragon stems on it — this will keep the tarragon for a week.
If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, then rinse the leaves and pat dry. Enclose with a moist paper towel and reserve in an airtight box, and it will be fresh for up to two weeks, and in the freezer, you can keep them for five months. Tarragon can be stored by drying it and you can store it for one year in a container.
Many people grow tarragon in gardens and enjoy the fresh and aromatic herbs around the year.
Certainly, you use herbs for an extra bang or additional seasoning. But before adding herbs to the cooking, you must know about its smell and flavor. Reading the article, you surely know what does tarragon smells like.
Also, you have known about the usage of fresh and dried tarragon. So you already have an idea which ingredient will be more suitable for pairing up. Try tarragon mustard sauce in any recipe you want or now you can make up your mind to prepare the next tarragon recipe.
As a home cook, I am working in the kitchen niche since 2001.
Writing a blog is one of my hobbies. Cooking is my passion and I love to experiment with spices. I hope you will get benefitted after reading my article.