Jul 6, 2023
Tarragon is one of the most potent and aromatic herbs in the kitchen. A few sprigs is all you need, and you can quickly turn a boring dish into something exciting. But aside from flavoring, it has a lot of health benefits, such as help improve sleep, reduce inflammation, and promote appetite. We’ll teach you how to freeze-dry tarragon so you’ll always have it in your pantry whenever you need it.
Freeze-drying herbs have many uses.
Freeze-drying preserves flavor for years as if it’s freshly picked from the garden. Unlike dehydrating, this method of preservation doesn’t expose your herb to heat. A dehydrator dries your food at 95°F (35°C) to 165°F (74°C), depending on the food group. This causes the food to “cook” and loses some of its color and flavor.
Freeze drying dries out the food first freezing the material at temperatures -30°F (-34°C) to -50°F (-45°C). Then the unit increases the temperature until the ice sublimates or changes in phase from solid to gas. This happens without the ice passing to the liquid phase. This way, the herb’s preserved close to its fresh form.
Freeze drying removes up to 95% of the water from the herb; some even say close to 98% or 99%. With this dry state, your freeze-dried tarragon can last for 25 years at room temperature. A massive difference to 7-14 days in the fridge.
Once you got your tarragon sprigs, wash them well with clean water. This is to remove any surface debris that it got from your garden. Also, if you bought the herb from the store, washing can help take out dirt that the herb got from packaging and transport.
Once the sprigs are all clean, you can put them on kitchen towels to take out the water. If the tarragon sprigs are still moist but not overly wet, use paper towels to dry them out.
When it comes to herbs, faster freezing is always best compared to slow freezing. A deep freezer can only freeze up to 0°F (-18 °C), which is lower than your freeze dryer. This forms large ice crystals that can destroy the cell structure of your herbs. For this reason, it’s best that you don’t pre-freeze your tarragon. You’ll get better results with your freeze dryer.
But you can pre-freeze your herbs in the deep freezer if your freeze dryer’s currently occupied. Just make sure you move fast when it’s time to load the herbs in the freeze dryer. Don’t let the tarragon thaw even for a second to keep its shape and form. Use the freeze dryer tray when you’re freezing the tarragon to keep the frozen state longer.
When you’re going to freeze dry tarragon, choose the most tender stems that you can. They freeze dry well and also have the best flavor.
Herbs have one of the shortest freeze-drying times because they don’t have high water content. Depending on weather conditions, the herb can take about 16-20 hours to freeze dry. The process can take longer if you have other food freeze-drying with your herbs.
Word of caution: only freeze dry herbs that have a similar taste and aroma as tarragon. Don’t let it mix with other food like apples, potatoes, and Morel mushrooms because they’ll smell and taste like it.
You’ll know that the herb’s ready when it’s dry, airy, and gives this rustling sound when you touch it. If any leaves or stem feels soft, cool, and a bit wet, put the trays back for 2-3 hours extra dry time.
You can store your freeze-dried tarragon in Mylar bags if you want to keep them for 25 years or more. They’re great for keeping out air and moisture and don’t take up a lot of space. Convenient for traveling, too, if ever you need to travel to a place where good tarragon is hard to find (heaven forbid).
Mason jars also work perfectly for short-term storage. They’re your kitchen companion if you’re crazy about freeze-dried tarragon and want to use it almost every day.
Whatever you choose, always remember to vacuum seal your container and use oxygen absorbers. If you’re going to open the bag or jar, change the oxygen absorber immediately if not frequently.
You can use your freeze-dried tarragon as-is or reconstitute it in just a touch of water before use. If you use it in soups, sauces, dressings, and marinades, reconstitution is not necessary. Just add more water if needed should the freeze-dried herb suck in moisture.
Freeze-dried tarragon has the same flavor intensity, if not stronger than fresh tarragon. Some say if you need a teaspoon of fresh tarragon, you’ll need a teaspoon of dried. But you can always go for a bit less if you’re unsure. It’s easier to adjust your recipe if you use a little than too much. Go for half or a quarter less than the recipe asks for to be on the safe side.
For some inspiration, you can try your freeze-dried tarragon in the following recipes:
What do you plan on making with your freeze-dried tarragon? Let us know in the comment section.
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