Making Tarragon Vinegar at home
I love French Tarragon. Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa', or French Tarragon, is a beautiful aromatic herb that thrives in summer, dying back to ground over winter. If you bring it inside to protect it from frost, or keep it under glass, the root will survive and come back the following Spring.
If you're not sure how it tastes but you've had a herb which is similar to aniseed or licorice, you've probably had Tarragon. Generally French Tarragon plants have a lifespan of about 3 years. I once made the mistake of buying Russian Tarragon seeds when I'd lost my plant over the winter, only to discover that the flavour is nowhere near as intense as its French counterpart.
French Tarragon rarely flowers so cannot be grown from seed, only from cuttings. Tarragon vinegar is beautiful in salad dressings in the summer, and lovely with chicken in the cooler months as a reminder of what's to come the following Spring. It's great for making an aromatic mayonnaise and bearnaise sauce. It's so simple to make and, if you have some in your garden, there's still time to make it before this lovely herb begins to die off for another year*.
Tarragon Vinegar Recipe
500ml white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
a generous handful of fresh French Tarragon, the freshest with the most lush green leaves you can find.
Pour the vinegar into a Kilner-type clip top jar. Add the peppercorns and Tarragon. Seal the lid, pop into the fridge and leave to steep for two weeks.
Don't leave it for much longer than this because, rather than improving over time, the leaves and stems will instead go bitter which is not what you want.
After two weeks, strain the vinegar either through a sieve or, for a really clear vinegar, through butter muslin/cheesecloth.
You can then compost the tarragon. Too much vinegar in your compost isn't advisable because it can ultimately make your compost acidic, but a small amount like this will be fine.
Put your beautiful Tarragon Vinegar into a sterilised glass bottle and seal.
*Your French Tarragon plant will die back over the winter. If you live in a very cold area and/or it's a hard winter, the cold may kill it off completely. But if you bring it indoors (or into a greenhouse or polytunnel), your plant should start producing shoots again next Spring. Then put it back outside when all risk of frost has passed.
I always keep my French Tarragon in pots for this reason, so the plants can easily be moved inside when the time comes.
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