The heat of the Mediterranean is here, and I'm imagining myself in Provence, walking through an herb garden early in the morning picking fresh tarragon to eat with my morning eggs!

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If you're not familiar with tarragon, then I highly recommend you give it a try. It has a lovely, delicate flavor that blends beautifully with egg dishes in particular. Tarragon has a slight hint of licorice, but don't let that scare you away even if you don't care for licorice candy. It's a completely different taste and very complex. Add tarragon to an omelette (see my video), egg salad or deviled eggs. Delicious!

Tarragon is easy to grow under the right conditions: warm, sunny to partly sunny, well-drained soil. It's one of the few herbs that does relatively well in shady areas, although it prefers sun. However, it does NOT like to get too hot, so 

if you're growing it in a hot climate like Oklahoma, you'll want to plant it where it will get morning sun and dappled shade in the afternoon. You can harvest the leaves from July until fall. It's cold hardy in zones 4-9, but a little extra mulch in the winter won't hurt.

Also known as Dragon Herb, tarragon was traditionally used for "curing the bites and stings of venomous beasts and of mad dogs" according to Mrs. M. Grieve in A Modern Herbal. Although not prominently mentioned as a healing herb, it is commonly believed to be beneficial for sleep, digestion, water retention, poor appetite, and amenorrhea. It's considered to be beneficial for anorexia.

Tarragon has a high level of antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C and numerous minerals. Note that the use of large medicinal doses of tarragon over an extended period of time is not recommended due to the presence of estragole, an oil that might be carcinogenic in high concentrations. However, eating tarragon as a food, even every day, is not believed to have any contraindications, unless you're allergic to herbs in the ragweed family of which it's a member.

Make sure you buy or plant FRENCH tarragon, the one with the best flavor, and not Russian tarragon.

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™