Tarragon is easy to grow and makes a nice addition to any herb garden. It also grows well in a sunny window, so ideally you can always have some fresh.
While it’s quite disease resistant, my Tarragon plants have been known to die off on occasion (Sometimes this can also be due to the wrath of an angry cat). Either way, you may not always have a supply of fresh Tarragon on hand.
You could try to find some fresh Tarragon at your supermarket. However, a lot of supermarkets don’t carry fresh Tarragon (or if they do-they are usually sold out).
You could also buy dried Tarragon which is much more readily available. However, dried Tarragon is a poor substitute for the fresh stuff.
Is there a Substitute for Tarragon?
While there is nothing quite like it, there are several alternatives you can use. Many gourmets will tell you that fresh chervil, fennel or basil leaves will substitute in a pinch. However, I find that none of these alone is sufficient. To many, Fennel tastes the most like Tarragon, however it is not nearly as pungent.
Over years of cooking I have found that there are a few herb combinations that come close. These are:
1) Chopped basil + a pinch (or more) of ground cloves. The basil give that anise/licorice flavour + grassy herb flavour, while the cloves give that bit of numbness and that other indescribable pungency that Tarragon has.
2) Chopped Basil + star anise. The basil give that anise/licorice flavour + grassy herb flavour, while the Anise give that bit of numbness and that other indescribable pungency that Tarragon has.
3) 5 Spice Powder. I always have this on hand. In a pinch this will work, even on its own., a little chopped basil or chervil will help.
4) Dried Tarragon. While it gives you some of the flavour of Tarragon, it is a pale substitute. I have had good luck with dry tarragon in combination with fennel.
At the end of the day, none of us will taste these combinations in the same way. Therefore, you should try a few of these to see which is the most “Tarragon-ish” to you. That way you don’t have to deprive yourself of a plate of [almost] Tarragon chicken when you get snowed in this winter.
Eat and be happy…..