A delicate herb
Earlier this week they nipped out the tops of the French Tarragon plants at the Escape project, where I volunteer, to make them less straggly and more bushy.
It’s a delicate herb as it can’t be grown from seed and can really only be propagated from softwood cuttings, root cuttings (which is how I grew mine from a piece of root at the Escape Project in Swaffham) and by division.
When I talked to Norfolk Herbs near Dereham recently – they told me that only 60% of their cutting take – and they’re the professionals!
Because of this many nurseries only offer Russian Tarragon for sale – so make sure you know what you’re buying or growing before you start.
It’s easier to grow but a different herb altogether and has little flavour compared to the “real thing”.
Anyway I cadged some of the tips and added the top of my lone little plantling to the total (16 altogether).
I could have dried the leaves in the airing cupboard until they were dessicated but I thought I’d try flavouring some vinegar with it.
I guess you could also flavour olive oil with it – I have done this with great success with fresh small-leaved basil at the end of the growing season.
And Karen – who’s one of the gardeners and team leaders at the Escape allotment project – said she used hers with potatoes.
It’s also got me thinking that I may try and make some raspberry vinegar in a couple of months.
Washed, dried and slightly crushed
Anyway I found a 500ml bottle of white wine vinegar and used half of it – brought to boiling – to pour onto the washed, dried and slightly crushed tarragon leaves which I put in a Kilner jar.
Any jar will do as long as it’s big enough and you’ve washed it and dried it well (you could sterilise it by putting it through dishwasher or rinsing in boiling water and then leaving to dry upturned).
I added 15 black peppercorns.
I may decant quite soon – 2 weeks was recommended in some of the reading I did before making this – but I might do it after 1 week as I crushed the leaves first and there are quite a few of them.
I love the slightly fizzy taste French tarragon leaves in your mouth after chewing it.