Perhaps the fact that it is native to Siberia and Mongolia accounts for its anonymity, because those places were not on the trade routes, and so their inaccessibility left them isolated. It is believed to have reached the West with the invading Mongols. In the U.S., the plant most often sold as tarragon is actually false or Russian tarragon that is nearly tasteless.
For cooking, tarragon’s long, delicate, polished gray-green, aromatic leaves have a sweet, yet slightly bitter flavor. The young shoots and tips of the plants were cooked and eaten as a vegetable in earlier times; they are still served as an appetizer in the Near East. Because tarragon’s flavorful oil evaporates when the leaves are dried, fresh tarragon is much more flavorful. Add the fresh leaves to salads, dressing, sauces and vegetable, poultry and fish dishes. Tarragon can easily take the place of salt, pepper, vinegar and garlic. Because it is strongly flavored, tarragon should be used with discretion; fresh or dried, heat intensifies the flavor.
Herbally, tarragon is a mild, non-irritating diuretic that helps the system flush out toxins produced by the digestion of heavy proteins. It stimulates the appetite by promoting digestive secretions such as hydrochloric acid. A simple infusion of tarragon leaves is said to relieve flatulence and colic, regulate menstruation, balance the body’s acidity, alleviate the pain of arthritis, rheumatism and gout, and expel worms from the body. Drinking tarragon tea before going to bed may help overcome insomnia. The fresh leaf or root acts as a local anesthetic when applied to aching teeth, cuts or sores.
Tarragon was once believed to cure the bites of mad dogs and venomous creatures, because in medicinal lore and legend, any plant with a serpentine root system is given credit for treating snakebite. Many also considered it to be an aphrodisiac.
Prepare this delicious, easy salad and enjoy the delights of fresh tarragon, or stimulate your digestion with this healthy fresh juice.
Pear Spinach Tarragon Juice 3 ripe pears 6 cups fresh spinach 2 sprigs fresh tarragon Squeeze of lemon juice
Juice all the ingredients and refresh yourself and your digestion.
Pear Spinach Tarragon Salad 2 medium ripe pears 4 cups fresh spinach 2 tsp fresh tarragon 2 tsp fresh lemon juice 1 tsp olive oil 2 Tbsp pecans Pinch Himalayan salt Pinch cayenne pepper
Chop the pears into bite-size pieces and combine with the spinach, pecans and fresh tarragon.
Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, Himalayan salt and cayenne pepper ,and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!
Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524- 4488 or 1-800-844-9876 and visit LivingFoodsInstitute.com.