French Tarragon vs. Russian Tarragon
Herbs > > French Tarragon vs. Russian Tarragon
Although they’re both of the same family of herbs, there are definite differences between French and Russian tarragon. If you’re interested in exploring the culinary uses of these herbs, you’d better acquaint yourself with those differences before firing up the oven.
Herb Structure: Physical Similarities and Dissimilarities
French tarragon – or, what is referred to as true tarragon – is almost weed-like in its appearance, with long, narrow, smooth-edged leaves which resemble spears. Its cousin of the herb family – Russian tarragon (also known as false tarragon) – differs in that its leaves are narrower and are a bit spikier. Other than that, and the fact that the leaves of the French variety are glossier, there’s no real visual difference between the two herbs.
Culinary Uses of Tarragon
While both French and Russian tarragon is used in cooking, the French variation is preferred by most, since it exhibits superior flavor over its herbal counterpart. Russian tarragon tends to have a bitter undertone in its flavoring, as opposed to the smooth and slightly
Strange as it may seem, both varieties of the herb originated in Russia, but French tarragon is much more popular, due to its slight licorice flavoring, which is highly sought after in the culinary world. The French, in fact, use a great deal of this herb in their cooking – you might say that it’s one of their basic staples - provided it’s the “true” tarragon.
There are a great number of recipes which use this herb, and it tends to work very well in dishes such as sauces, seafood, salad dressings, vegetables, flavored butters, soup and poultry. Tarragon vinegar is also a favorite in the culinary world, and is quite easy to make for those who are interested in serving the fresh, homemade variety. You must remember, however, that using the herb in its fresh state will provide a much more pronounced taste. If you’re looking for a more subtle flavoring, you’ll do better using the dried version of the herb.
Regardless of which of the two herbs you prefer – French or Russian tarragon – there are some lovely recipes that can be found online and in various cookbooks. Among them are Tarragon Chicken; Tarragon Beef and Pasta Salad; Tarragon-Vanilla Salad Dressing; Turkey Scaloppine Tarragon; Pickled Tarragon Baby Carrots, and numerous others that will delight the palate.
Herbal Medicines: The Benefits of Tarragon
Both forms of the herb are high in Vitamins A and C, and have been used as homeopathic remedies for quite some time. It is believed that tarragon is responsible for stimulating the appetite, and tonics have been made by integrating the herb into tea. In days past, tarragon was also used as a toothache curative.
French vs. Russian: Choosing Your Herb
When attempting to determine which of the two herbal varieties to use in your recipe (unless a specific variety is called for), simply remember that French tarragon is sweeter and lighter - as opposed to the more bitter Russian version - and that it has a tinge of licorice flavoring, which works well in a wide range of recipes.