Tarragon Plant Harvesting: Tips On Harvesting Tarragon Herbs

Tarragon Herbs
harvest tarragon
(Image credit: coramueller)

Tarragon is a delicious, licorice-flavored, perennial herb useful in any number of your culinary creations. As with most other herbs, tarragon is cultivated for its flavorful leaves rich in essential oils. How do you know when to harvest tarragon though? Read on to find out about tarragon harvest times and how to harvest tarragon.

Tarragon Plant Harvesting

All herbs should be harvested when their essential oils are at their peak, early in the morning after the dew has dried and before the heat of the day. Herbs, in general, can be harvested when they have enough leaves to maintain growth. As tarragon is a perennial herb, it can be harvested up until late August. Be advised to stop harvesting tarragon herbs one month before the frost date for your area. If you keep harvesting tarragon herbs too late in the season, the plant will likely keep producing new growth. You risk damaging this tender growth if temps get too chilly. Now you know when to harvest tarragon. What other tarragon plant harvesting info can we dig up?

How to Harvest Fresh Tarragon

First off, there is no specific tarragon harvest time date. As mentioned above, you may begin harvesting the leaves as soon as the plant has enough to sustain itself. You are never going to denude the entire plant. Always leave at least 1/3 of the foliage on the tarragon. That said, you want the plant to attain some size before hacking at it. Also, always use kitchen shears or the like, not your fingers. The leaves of the tarragon are very delicate and if you use your hands, you will likely bruise the leaves. Bruising releases the aromatic oils of the tarragon, something you don’t want to happen until you are just about to use it. Snip off the newer baby shoots of light green leaves. Tarragon produces new growth on the old woody branches. Once removed, wash the shoots with cool water and pat them dry gently. When you are ready to use them, you can remove the individual leaves by sliding your fingers down the length of the shoot. Use leaves removed in this manner immediately since you have just bruised the leaves and the time is ticking before the aroma and flavor wanes. You can also individually snip the leaves off the shoot. These can then be used immediately or stored in a freezer bag and frozen. The entire sprig can also be stored in a glass with a bit of water at the bottom, sort of like keeping a flower in a vase. You can dry the tarragon by hanging the shoots in a cool, dry area. Then store the dried tarragon in a container with a tight-fitting lid or in a plastic bag with a zip top. As fall approaches, tarragon’s leaves begin to yellow, signaling that it is about to take a winter sabbatical. At this time, cut the stalks back to 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm.) above the crown of the plant to prepare it for the successive spring growing season.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.