Tarragon is a culinary herb that you will need to prepare many of the classic French dishes. Its flavor is likened to that of licorice or anise, with a touch of basil’s minty properties. Ideally, the best way to use it is in its fresh form. The herb loses much of its flavor when dried. But can you freeze tarragon? Yes. If you have more than you can use right away, you should certainly consider freezing it.
Freezing is arguably the best way to preserve tarragon’s flavor and nutritional value. Frozen tarragon tastes almost exactly like fresh tarragon, except that freezing and thawing are likely to soften its texture. Use it in soups and braised dishes where the texture won’t matter. Below are the methods you can use to freeze tarragon.
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First step: Blanching (optional)
Blanching offers a few benefits. First, it kills bacteria on the leaves and stems. Not only can blanching prevent sickness, but it may also help the herb to last a little longer once you thaw it; ordinarily, frozen tarragon spoils quickly after thawing. A second benefit is that it helps to remove chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. Thirdly, blanching softens the leaves. Softer tarragon leaves can fit better into containers for freezing. If you decide not to blanch your tarragon, you should at least wash the leaves.
Start the blanching process by boiling a large pot of water with some salt. You should also prepare an ice bath. Submerge your tarragon in the boiling water for about 10 seconds then quickly move it to the ice bath. Squeeze excess water from the tarragon before freezing it.
Option 1: Bagging
At this point, you can simply bag up all your tarragon and stick it in the freezer. The tarragon will freeze, and you can thaw it and use it later on. This method is fast and will preserve your tarragon.
The problem comes when you need to use it. If you have a lot of tarragon, you will have to thaw all of it, even if you only want to use a small portion. You will probably have to discard what you don’t use. Alternatively, you can divide the herb into several smaller bags before freezing. If you want to avoid using lots of plastic bags, you can try the flash-freezing method or the ice cube tray method below.
Option 2: Flash freezing
Flash-freezing tarragon allows you to freeze multiple portions separately. Flash-freeze tarragon by lining a baking sheet with cling film or spraying it with nonstick spray. Whether you have blanched your tarragon or not, make sure that the leaves are dry and spread them on the baking sheet so that they don’t overlap. Take care to keep the leaves separate.
Place the baking sheet in your freezer until the leaves freeze. Remove the tarragon from the baking sheet and place all of it into the same bag. The fact that they were flash-frozen will keep them freezing together even though they are in the same bag. You can remove as much tarragon as you need without thawing all of it.
Option 3: The ice cube tray method
The ice cube tray method also allows the freezing of multiple separate portions. It requires you to place your blanched or unblanched tarragon into the compartments of an ice cube tray. The compartments should be no more than two-thirds full. Add water or oil to the compartments and move the tray to your freezer. Once the cubes are frozen, pop them out and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Add a cube or two to your dish when you need the flavor of tarragon.