Tarragon is a fragrant herb that shares many of its flavor notes with anise. French tarragon is the variety that is used most frequently for cooking, and you will need to keep it around if you plan on cooking French favorites like Bearnaise sauce. Whether you grow it in your garden or buy it at the grocery store, it makes sense to learn the best ways to keep it usable for as long as possible. Below are some ways to store tarragon for the best flavor.
In the refrigerator
Fresh tarragon is the best form of the herb, with the brightest flavor and most brilliant green color. Unfortunately, it has a short shelf life, like any fresh herb. Left at room temperature, fresh tarragon will quickly wilt and become unusable within days. The easiest way to preserve its freshness for the short term is to keep it in the refrigerator. Placing it in your crisper drawer wrapped in a damp paper towel will keep tarragon from drying out and wilting for up to two weeks.
You can also refrigerate tarragon in a jar of water to keep it fresh. Snip the ends off the bundle and place them with the cut ends down in a jar with two or three inches of water. Place a plastic bag over the top of the tarragon that you secure to the jar with a rubber band. Place in the refrigerator. Tarragon can last for about three weeks in the jar, as long as you remember to change out the water every couple of days.
By freezing your tarragon, you can extend its shelf life indefinitely. While you should use it within six months to get the best flavor, it can last in the freezer for years. While you can simply place a bundle of tarragon in the freezer with no additional steps, you won’t get the best result when you thaw it out for use. There are two ways to properly freeze tarragon: the ice cube tray method and flash-freezing.
You freeze tarragon in an ice cube tray by first blanching it and then dividing it between the compartments of the ice cube tray. You then add oil or water to the tray to fill the compartments up. Place the ice cube tray in the freezer and freeze until solid. Store the cubes in a freezer bag. The ice cube tray method allows you to store multiple portions of tarragon for months. The herb will still be flavorful when thawed. The tarragon cubes will be easy to use as well, just toss one or two of them into your dish.
Flash freezing tarragon can accomplish the same thing as the ice cube tray method without the use of an ice cube tray or liquids. Line a baking sheet with cling film, or wax paper, or spray the surface with nonstick spray. Divide your tarragon into the portions that you would typically use in a recipe and place them on the baking sheet, making sure to keep them separate. Place in the freezer and remove when completely frozen. Place the separate portions into a freezer bag. Flash freezing keeps portions from sticking together. To use flash-frozen tarragon, you can add them while frozen to dishes, or you can thaw them out in the refrigerator overnight.
You can dry tarragon, even though this removes most of its flavor. Use the lowest setting on your oven or the herb setting in your food dehydrator for the best results.