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Herb of the Month: March 2021

Over the past few days, lots has brought us hope, including the strength of the sun and the moon as they have each lit the sky. In the news and in nature, we are looking forwards, so please forgive us we try to skip the last two days of February and bring you a Herb of the Month recommendation for March.


Written by Sara Dixon


 

Tarragon, to me, is the harbinger of Spring. It is always the first out of the ground. I love it because it also is the herb that proves if you just leave it be, it returns! Often folk say to me ‘Oh I kill it. I grow it in a pot. It disappears. So I throw out the pot and contents.’  Yet… the reality is that it dies back in Winter and pops up again in Spring.

I grow mine in a pot because there is a friendly little rodent that has a particular liking for where I used to plant it in the ground. I would see it pop up and then… it was gone!  I caught the little fella one evening having a munch! So now in a pot it stays. To die down over Winter, and strike forth and upwards in Spring.

Tarragon does not like frost or waterlogged soil so there are other reasons to grow it in a pot.

Tarragon is associated with fighting dragons. Yes, really!   Although Tarragon is not that fiery in taste – it tastes like aniseed or liquorice and adds warmth and sweetness to dishes. It is one of those herbs that tastes aniseedy/liquoricey when eaten raw and which, when cooked, merely leaves you with a sweet flavour.  So if you don’t like liquorice, but have a sweet tooth, cook it in some way.

I often chop some and sprinkle it on top of vegetables when I am roasting them.  Just a hint of sweetness with veg like swede or turnip really tastes great.

I also cook it with mushrooms and cream (yes, I never stint on indulgence!).  I bake a potato. Whilst waiting for the potato to bake, I cook some mushrooms with butter in a pan. I add some chopped Tarragon.  Then I add the cream at the last minute. And add to the baked potato. Now if you really want to self-indulge, add butter to the potato first…

For people who are veggies, I often make scotch eggs,  or egg salad, or even just quickly fry and egg on the griddle!  Chop up the Tarragon and incorporate it into whatever method of cooking eggs you are using.

It comes into its own at a BBQ.  I like to chop it and scatter it, in the final minute of grilling, over chicken.  OR if you are cooking a whole chicken, just cut the long stems, including leaves, and curl them into the cavity of the chicken. Remember – not too much because you need the cavity to be fairly airy for it to cook through.

And during the Game season, it is just perfect on game birds – adds a hint of sweetness.  The photo below is of pheasant and cabbage with Tarragon.

Credit: Sara Dixon

 

So you see, when Tarragon pops up in Spring, it is a sign of good food to come!

 


Sara runs Hawkwell Herbs, selling herbs that she grows herself and teaching cooking courses. Visit hawkwellherbs.co.uk to discover more and find Sara on Instagram @hawkwellherbs. If you would like to receive the next Herb of the Month straight to your inbox, email “Herb of the Month please” to blog@herbsociety.org.uk

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