Chic Once More Tarragon Vinegar

Twenty years ago tarragon was THE chic flavor for gourmet vinegar.
And yet a couple of months ago when I was getting ready to make Green Goddess Dressing I could find neither fresh tarragon nor tarragon vinegar in stores!
(I’m sure they can still be found in some grocery stores, but they were not available near my brother’s house in Virginia.)
Tarragon is a lovely herb, with a special almost licorice-like flavor. I have no idea why or how it fell from grace. I firmly believe that it deserves to come back into fashion, however. And I’m doing my part to promote its renaissance.
First, I have planted tarragon outside my kitchen in Massachusetts as well as in my sister-in-law’s garden in Virginia.
Thinking ahead to the winter when my tarragon will be dormant, I have just made tarragon vinegar. My own tarragon plant is still dwarflike, but I was fortunately enough to find a huge bunch of lush tarragon at my CSA, Wilder Brook Farm.
If I want to make Green Goddess dressing in January I can substitute my vinegar for some of the lemon juice in that recipe. I can also make an herbal vinaigrette with the vinegar. Or a sweet-and-sour vinaigrette by mixing it with some of my strawberry vinegar.
Like Scarlett O’Hara, I’ll never go hungry again—at least not where tarragon is concerned.
Did I mention that the recipe couldn’t be simpler?
Tarragon Vinegar
1 quart apple cider vinegar (I use the lovely vinegar made by Apex Orchards)
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
Heat the vinegar in a non-aluminum pan until it is just about to boil but not boiling. While it is heating, wash and dry the tarragon leaves, being careful not to crush them. Gently push the leaves into a warm, clean glass jar with a capacity greater than a quart. (I use an old liquor bottle—washed, of course.)
When the vinegar is warm pour it into the jar and close the jar loosely. Tighten the jar lid after the vinegar cools. Place the jar in a cool, dry place for 3 days, gently shaking it twice a day. Do NOT try to shake the bottle just after you pour in the hot vinegar as it may leak or explode.
Strain the vinegar through cheesecloth and funnel it into smaller bottles. If you like, you may place a sprig of tarragon in your bottles to help you remember what type of vinegar they contain. (Labels help, too.) 

Makes about 1 quart of vinegar.

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7 Responses to “Chic Once More Tarragon Vinegar”

  1. Flaneur says:

    You’re quite right about the virtues of tarragon. My earliest recollection of ever hearing about tarragon was from a PDQ Bach/Schickele recording of “The Seasonings.” A more illuminating encounter with tarragon occurred somewhat later in a French bistro in Georgetown, in Washington. Who knew that the slightest trace of tarragon in chicken could impart such a rich, I’d say nutty, mellow taste to chicken? And given the increasing blandness of today’s supermarket poultry, tarragon can play a vital role in resuscitating any flavor to a dish. If one does not have the time, space or inclination to make tarragon vinegar, there is always the option of tearing a few of the tiny fresh leaves and adding them to a salad. I’d say one ought to use tarragon the way past generations of Americans once used garlic – warily and with discretion, not because it is any way offensive but rather because it does have an assertive aspect that may overwhelm. So let’s raise chickens that can rise to the occasion and hold their own as more tarragon is added. It is a lovely and fragrant herb whose virtue must be patience while it awaits equally finer main ingredients befitting its strengths and subtleties.

  2. E. Sheppard says:

    Interesting, as always! I am glad there is a link to Green Goddess Dressing here too. I have always liked that kind of dressing, but have never tasted it homemade. Off to blog!

  3. I must give this a try! The only times I have used tarragon (both fresh and dried) is when making a cream sauce to have with fish and chicken.

  4. Tinky says:

    Flaneur, I think “nutty” is a perfect word. E., it’s the perfect time of year for Green Goddess. Frayed, I’d love your cream-sauce recipe (pretty please?)……….

  5. I love tarragon. I write a lot of recipes with it but don’t use a lot of the tarragon vinegar…it sounds so easy to make though! I didn’t grow up eating a lot of tarragon so I think that once my ‘new palate’ discovered it, I just got so excited about it! I find that dried tarragon is actually a pretty good product and I always keep that on hand when I can’t get the fresh. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. David says:

    I remember Deb had a recipe for Tarragon Chicken with Honey that was wonderful. I wonder if it could be dug up somewhere. While we grill our chickens now, I might try a tarragon marinade to see what comes out.

  7. tinkyweisblat says:

    EveryDay, it’s true that I should sometimes stop being so fussy and just use the dried stuff. David, let me know if you unearth the honey chicken and/or have success with your marinade.

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