Tarragon - the "Little Dragon"

The common with the common mugwort and wormwood tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae). His origin is not clear, probably from Siberia, North America and China. From the early Middle Ages, the Arabs also seasoned their food with tarragon.

Probably the origin of the name "tarragon" in a loanword from the Greek language, here means drakon "dragon" or "snake". Also, the botanical designation of the tarragon in the form of the Latin "dracunculus" (little dragon) points out. Apparently the tarragon was associated with dragons thanks to its intricate rootstock.

Use of tarragon

As long as the flower buds are still closed, the upper branches of the tarragon are cut off and hung to dry. Tarragon is mainly used as a condiment today.

In conventional medicine, it is no longer used for therapeutic purposes. This is due to the ingredient Estragol which is believed to be mutagenic and carcinogenic. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment issued a warning in 2002. However, tarragon continues to be used in folk medicine.

Tarragon: active ingredients

The ingredient Estragol is responsible in the tarragon together with Anethol for the distinctive, anise-like taste. Overall, the German or French tarragon contains three percent of essential oils, except the aforementioned terpenes such as ocimene and terpineol. In addition, the following ingredients are also present in the tarragon:

  • cinnamic acid derivatives
  • phellandrene
  • pinene
  • camphene
  • eugenol
  • limonene

In the Russian tarragon, however, only one percent of essential oils are included. Estragol is completely absent here, but Sabines and elemicin as well as Ocimene and Eugenolderivate occur.

Flavors such as quercetin or patuletin are responsible for the bitter taste of the tarragon.

The healing effect of the estragon

In folk medicine tarragon is said to have a healing effect on digestion. Because it contains many bitter substances that stimulate the production of gastric juice, it helps to strengthen digestion. That is why it is helpful in a variety of digestive problems such as flatulence or intestinal disorders. In addition, the spice has a soothing effect on stomach cramps, as tarragon has an antispasmodic effect.

In addition, the essential oils of tarragon have a warming and blood circulation when applied externally. So tarragon can work together with other oils to remedy rheumatic pain.

In addition, according to medieval superstition and snake bites should be cured by tarragon. However, this theory has not been confirmed. However, German names for tarragon, such as snakeweed, are still reminiscent of this function.

Tarragon as a kitchen herb

The young shoots of the tarragon can be used sparingly to aromatize vinegar and mustard. In addition, they are also suitable for seasoning poultry, potato and pasta dishes, rice, boiled fish and pickled cucumbers. In salads, the well-known tarragon vinegar is used.

Tarragon is also indispensable for refining many sauces. In French cuisine, for example, he refines the flavor of Bérnaise sauce, hollandaise sauce and vinaigrette.

Cultivation of tarragon

In the garden, the hardy tarragon loves a sunny to partially shaded place in a humus rich, moist soil. The Russian tarragon can be sown in April, the German tarragon is propagated by Wurzelausläufer. Narrow, elongated leaves grow on the branched stems. In July, the panic-shaped inflorescences appear with small, green-yellow flower heads.

The taste and smell of the plant is reminiscent of aniseed, fennel and sweet dumplings or licorice. The Russian tarragon, however, is almost odorless and tastes slightly tart. Unfortunately, the Russian tarragon is the only variety that can be propagated by seeds, which is why it is preferred in nurseries.

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