What part of dill do you use for pickles?

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I have fond childhood memories of walking through dill up to my chin in my Polish grandmother’s (Babci’s) garden. Of course I was quite small then, but the wonderful warm, cozy aroma of dill takes me back many, many years to the crocks of pickles she made. My own dill never quite meets my expectations, except when it reseeds and comes up in early spring. The strong, tall stalks go for the sky. The dancing heads of gold look like a scene of umbrellas from singing in the rain.

The smell of dill pickles is reminiscent of many things and more recently it calls to mind our three summer visits to Poland. Many there often call July the season of Ogorki (dill pickle). Dill is lush in gardens and especially in all the wonderful open markets! Crocks of pickles stuffed with dill and Ogorki (pickling cukes) fill the air with a never to be forgotten aroma.

Dill is a medium-sized annual herb, with ferny foliage and umbrella like yellow flowers that produce oval seeds. It grows best when given a rich soil and adequate water, and it is also is happiest when nights are a bit on the cool side.

Dill is best grown from seeds. These can be planted from early spring to fall, about every 3 weeks. This successive planting is most successful for such a short-lived annual. It will reseed successfully also if allowed to do so. Moral to the story, you need to plant dill several times, once or twice in fall and then in late winter, as well as in spring and throughout the summer. Have a dill patch and as it begins to reseed, you will not have to plant it. It is best to plant your dill seeds right in the garden where you want them to grow. Dill likes to be planted in cool weather, but I plant it about every two weeks from now until fall. In mild winter areas that don’t experience a hard frost, you can plant dill in late fall. Cover the seeds lightly, keep moist and allow a week or two for them to germinate. I usually plant my last dill in early to mid fall and it goes well into winter. Planting them close together helps keep them from blowing over. When growing it in containers, use a deep pot to accommodate the long taproot, and remember that the plant can grow three feet tall. Plants grown in containers may require staking.

Dill is not an herb that remains tasty when dry. I buy fresh at the store in the winter. When you grow a lot of it, you might stuff a jar with fresh dill and cover it with vinegar. This can be used with sour cream over cucumbers in winter. However, the seeds can be dried for up to six months if they are stored properly in a cool, dark place. Once seed heads begin to form allow them to develop and dry completely, then cut them. You’ll be able to remove the seeds easily with your fingers or use the heads whole in pickles.

Old timers brew a stomach-soothing tea with two teaspoons of mashed dill seeds per cup of boiling water. Steep this for ten minutes and drink it for stomach and digestive problems. Much the same as fennel, it is said to help with colic or gas in babies if they are given small amounts of the weak tea.

Freshly cut, chopped leaves enhance the flavor of dips, herb butter, soups, fish dishes, and salads. Try fresh chopped dill, parsley and chives with lots of butter over boiled potatoes. Use seed heads in pickling and try grinding the seeds to use as a salt substitute. Both the flowering heads and seeds are used in flavored vinegars and oils. Fresh dill should always be stored in the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp paper towel or with its stems placed in a container of water. Since it is very fragile, even if stored properly, dill will only keep fresh for a couple of days.

Dill is native to Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean region. It has been used for its culinary and medicinal properties for centuries. Dill was mentioned both in the Bible and ancient Egyptian writings and was popular in the earliest Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties. Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth. Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing. Dill’s name comes from the Old Norse word “dilla” which means “to lull.” This name reflects dill’s traditional uses as both a carminative stomach soother and an insomnia reliever.

We love fresh dill with cucumbers, beets, potatoes and fish. We cut it fresh from the garden during the growing season. I find that cutting it often keeps my dill from going to seed. I try to cut often until I need the seed heads for pickles.

Note that compost in the soil is very beneficial when growing dill. Also, be sure to plant plenty of seeds, as the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly likes the pungent foliage as well. The international herb association has picked dill as the 2010 Herb of the Year.

Dill Recipes from Polish Babci

Potato Salad with Horseradish and Fresh Dill

  • 7-8 pounds red skin potatoes
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons dill weed

Scrub potatoes. Remove any blemishes and dice into bite-size pieces and boil until tender. Drain and toss with remaining ingredients while potatoes are still warm. You may make Cole Slaw by replacing potatoes with cabbage.

Note: If you prefer peeled potatoes you may use any potatoes and if you like cook whole and scrape skins off .

Dill Pickles

There are probably as many recipes for dill pickles as there are Polish housewives. I don’t remember my Babci using any vinegar in her brine, just water and salt, but today most recipes have at least one cup of vinegar to every 10 of water. I have been told that this is to compensate for the lack of acid in the city or softened water.

  1. Wash the pickles well and then soak them, covered with water (3 gallons of water to one cup of salt) overnight.
  2. Drain them and layer them with a generous amount of dill and garlic in a ceramic crock.
  3. Cover with brine, 1 cup of salt to 20 cups of water and 2 cups of cider vinegar that has been brought to a boil. Be sure all is covered with brine and then place a glass or china plate to weigh cucumbers down and cover all with clean dishcloth.
  4. After 4 –5 days, either refrigerate or seal into jars. Pickles put in jars should also be covered with brine and then sealed with two-part jar lids and processed for the given time (usually 20-30 minutes in boiling water that covers the jars and allowed to cool and seal).

In looking over many recipes in Polish books, I notice that they are all different. Some use vinegar, some don’t. Some add onions, others horseradish, or red pepper, or even alum. Some add a peach pit or grape leaf. I have tried all of these things. I just like lots of dill and garlic. Be sure to test at 4 days and refrigerate if ready, The more dill the better!

Lorraine Kiefer has gardened all of her life. She is a garden writer, floral designer and professional horticulturist. Lorraine teaches many classes at Triple Oaks nursery and Herb Garden in Franklinville, NJ. Email [email protected] for garden help or leave your questions below! www.tripleoaks.com

Harvesting and Preserving Dill

Preserving Dill

PRESERVING
Fresh dill weed:

According to UC/Davis’ Postharvest Technology Research and Information Center, fresh dill stored at 32ºF has an expected shelf life of 3 weeks; whereas at 41 ºF, the maximum shelf life of dill is 2 weeks. However, depending on water loss, the herb may have a shelf life as short as 1 week. Freeze-damage can occur on dill stored below 31ºF and will appear as darkened translucent or water-soaked areas which will deteriorate quickly after thawing. Do not spray water on your herbs like the grocery store; this may encourage bacterial rot.
Dried dill weed and seeds:

  • Pick for leaf harvest just before flowers open. This is when the leaves contain the highest concentration of oils.
  • The day before harvesting leaves, spray them with water so that they will be clean and dry the day of harvest.
  • The day of leaf harvest, pick dill in the early morning or place stems in water for two hours.
  • Strip damaged lower leaves and remove any flower heads (unless you are harvesting seeds as described below).
  • Use kitchen string or a rubber band to loosely combine the stems into small bundles. Do not bunch herbs tightly or it may encourage mold as they are drying.
  • Hang the bunches upside down in a dark warm dry place with good air circulation. This preserves the essential oils, which, in turn, preserves the flavor.
  • The herbs are ready when all of the moisture is gone and they are crisp enough to crumble (one to two weeks in most cases).
  • As an alternative to hanging the herbs, herbs may be dried in the oven. Set the oven at the lowest temperature possible (ideally 110ºF or less). Spread the herbs out on a baking sheet…don’t crowd them. With the oven door partly open, monitor the herbs closely. Herbs are ready when they are crisp enough to crumble. If you use a dehydrator or solar dryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • If you are gathering seeds from flower heads, use the hanging method above and loosely secure a paper bag over the flower heads to collect the seed before hanging, or place a clean cloth under the drying herbs. Note: Some people loosely cover all drying herbs with paper bags in order to catch any falling leaves and/or to protect the herbs if they are being dried in a dusty attic or garage.
  • Seeds, whole leaves removed from the stem or crushed leaves should be stored in airtight glass jars (preferably in brown glass) and kept in a cool, dry cupboard out of the light.
  • Inspect jarred herbs after the first week. If there is condensation in the jar, remove the leaves for further drying.

The process of collecting and saving seeds is a powerful act, igniting a cascade of positive change. On one hand, it might seem like saving seeds is the simplest way to grow your garden for free (which it is), but it’s also the best way to ensure diversity in our land and foodscapes. Here are some easy tips for harvesting seeds.

Where to Begin

The simplest place to begin when harvesting seeds is with flowers and fruits that are dry when mature, like these scarlet runner beans. You can see the fruit (in this case a bean pod) is parched and papery and long past the point of eating straight off the vine.

Store and save seeds like these scarlet runner beans for cooking later in the season (just like a pinto bean) and set aside a handful for planting out in spring and for sharing with friends.

Harvesting and saving seeds is a process that’s truly as simple as it looks.

Here’s What You Do

  • Let a handful of beans dry on the plant or vine (refrain from eating them all when they’re green – you can do it).
  • Harvest whole pods or flower heads to keep it simple.
  • Place in a paper bag, envelope, or another dry, out-of-the-sun location where beans can continue to dry.
  • When you have a minute, separate seeds from the other plant parts.
  • In the case of bean pods, open along the sides or sutures.
  • Have a collecting jar or another air-tight container handy for seed storing.
  • Place jarred seeds in a cool, dark location until you’re ready to use or until it’s planting time.
  • Note, it’s generally best not to freeze seeds but place them where temperatures are consistently cool. However, there are exceptions.
  • So, get to know your seeds and the plants you’re growing because some need scarification or freezing to germinate and grow again.

More Seed Saving Tips

This dried flower head (above) is what it looks like when the seeds are ready. You can see the seed head, what was the flower, is primed to come apart and fall to the ground. You can save these seeds or, depending on your climate, let them volunteer.

Methods for Gathering Seeds

  • Larger seeds are easily grasped by hand. I often take some and leave the rest.
  • Or, remove the flowering stalk and place the entire stalk with flower in a bag, jar or envelope. Once in enclosed environment seeds can be shaken free. This is particularly helpful when working with smaller seeds and seeds in capsules or follicles like with poppies or delphiniums.
  • Let the chaff fall away or not. Bits of flower parts won’t affect seed viability as long as they’re dry and completely free of moisture.

What To Do About Volunteers

Many flowers produce dry seeds and fruits, again like the calendula in the above photograph. It volunteers or self sows in my garden. But, I generally don’t hedge my bets for volunteers each season, so I collect seeds when they’re mature to plant the succeeding crop the following season or to share with friends and neighbors.

Types of Seeds

Harvesting seeds with fleshy fruits like tomatoes or cucumbers is more involved. See How to Collect and Save Tomato Seeds to get started or stick with the basics for now.

Gather seeds from heirloom or open-pollinated plants. Organic is a good rule of thumb too. Read Seeds 101 | Seed Selection & Terminology to learn more.

Other articles you might enjoy:

Seed Saving Made Simple

How to Grow & Forage: Miner’s Lettuce

4 Cosmos For Your Cutting Garden

*This article was originally published in September of 2015.

Saving dill seeds from your garden is easy and frugal! In this post, I will show you exactly when and how to harvest dill seeds, and what to do with dill seeds after you’re done collecting them.

Dill is a popular herb that many gardeners grow in their garden every summer. Dill’s an annual herb that can be used in tons of recipes and, of course, it’s essential for making dill pickles. It’s also a host plant for the swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. So, even if you don’t love to eat dill, it’s still an essential herb to include in every vegetable garden.

The best part about dill? It’s easy to collect dill seeds, so you can grow it in your garden year after year.

Dill flower going to seed

Harvesting Dill Seeds From Your Garden

I like to collect several types of seeds from my garden every year, and dill is one of my favorites. Many times you don’t even have to collect dill seeds, sometimes they will readily reseed themselves with no help from you. But, if you want to make sure that you have plenty of dill seed for planting next year, then you’ll definitely want to take a little time to harvest dill seeds.

When To Harvest Dill Seeds

In order for the dill plant to set seed, it must first bolt (i.e.: flower). So, if you want to be able to harvest dill seeds from your garden, allow a few of your plants to flower.

Once the flowers fade, the dill seeds will start to form at the tips of the star shaped flower stems. Allow the seeds to dry on the plant, but don’t leave dill seeds on the plant too long or they will eventually blow away.

Harvesting dill seeds from my garden

What Do Dill Seeds Look Like?

Dill seeds are flat and oval shaped. They are grayish-brown in color, with lighter colored stripes running the length of the seed, and also around the outer edge of the seeds.

Dill seeds and chaff

How To Harvest Dill Seeds

The easiest way to harvest dill seed is to clip the entire flower head from the plant, and dropping them into a paper bag or bucket. You may want to clip it off over a container because the seeds can start to drop from the plant when it’s disturbed.

Then you can collect dill seeds by gently pinching them off, or by shaking the bag or bucket the flower heads are in. Some of the seeds will come off easily, while others will want to hold on. So sometimes it can be a bit tedious to get every single dill seed.

What To Do With Dill Seeds After Harvesting

You can plant your dill seeds right away, or save them for planting next year. Just be sure to allow your dill seeds to dry out completely before storing them.

Once your seeds have completely dried out, store them in a plastic container (film canisters are the perfect size!), a paper bag, or use small envelopes. If you want to share your dill seeds with friends, you can buy customized envelopes, or make your own DIY seed envelopes. I store my seeds in clear plastic containers, but if you’re more organized than I am, you will love a Seed Keeper.

Where To Buy Dill Seeds

You should be able to find dill seeds for sale at your local garden center during the winter-spring months. Otherwise, you can buy dill seeds online any time of the year. Here are some great, quality seeds you can buy to get started… dill herb seeds.

If you love growing dill, take a little time to collect and store dill seeds from your garden. They are fun to share with friends or trade for other seeds – and best of all, you’ll never have to buy dill seeds again!

If you’re new to growing seeds, and want to learn how to start seeds indoors, then my Starting Seeds Indoors eBook would be perfect for you! It’s an easy, quick-start guide that will have you growing your own seeds in no time.

Recommended Products

More Posts About Saving Seeds

  • Collecting And Storing Bean Seeds
  • Collect Lavender Seeds From Your Garden
  • How To Collect Cilantro Seeds From Your Garden
  • How to Collect Chive Seeds in Your Garden

Share you tips for how to harvest dill seed from your garden in the comments section below.

Information On How To Harvest Dill And Drying Dill Weed and Dill Seeds

Dill weed is an essential flavoring for pickling. The feathery, fresh young leaves add a delicate flavor to fish, potatoes and sauces and yield thick stems at maturity. The plant bolts in high heat and produces umbrella-shaped flower appendages topped with hard little seeds. The herb literally grows “like a weed,” which is the genesis of the name dill weed. Learn how to harvest dill and how to store dill weed to keep the delicate flavor around all year.

How to Harvest Dill

Dill weed is preserved by drying the leaves, seeds or entire stem of the herb. Use pruners or sharp scissors when harvesting dill weed for drying. Cut just the leafy foliage or remove entire stems to dry for canning and seeds. Remove the stems when the seeds are brown and ripe.

Dill flavor is best when it just begins to flower. Wash the herbs after harvesting dill weed to remove dirt and insects.

How to Dry Dill

Dill weed refers to the greenish blue leaves of the herb, while dill seeds are just the seeds of the dill plant. The overall name of dill is used to describe the entire plant.

Dill weed is delicate even when fresh and should be added to dishes at the end of the cooking process to preserve the light, grassy flavor. Dry dill weed leaves lose some of their pungency and require more of the seasoning to produce the same flavor profile as fresh. Dill seeds are more flavorful and are often used where a stronger dill flavor is desired, such as in pickling.

Drying Dill Seeds

Drying dill seeds actually accentuates their flavor and ensures a supply of seasoning for the next pickle-canning.

You can bunch dry dill seeds by tying the stems together and hanging the herbs upside down. Keep the bunches lightly bundled so air can circulate. Cover the bunches with paper bags that have been liberally punched with holes on the side. The bags will catch the seeds as they dry, along with any pieces of leaf.

Drying Dill Weed

Dill leaves or dill weed are used dried as a crushed aromatic. The flavor is very light but the aroma is strong and adds complexity to foods. Dry dill by clipping off the individual leaflets and laying them in one layer on a dehydrator sheet or bakers rack. The leaves will dry in less than a day in a food dehydrator but will take several days on a baker’s rack in a warm, dry location. Turn the leaves every day so they are evenly exposed to the warm air.

How to Store Dill Weed

Crumble or crush the leaflets after they are completely dry. Herbs must be stored in a cool, dark area to avoid diminishing the color and flavor. Dry dill weed will keep for four to six months and can be used just like fresh dill leaves.

If you have ever grown dill and let it go to seed, you are already a seed savers. Pretty easy, huh? Congratulations! The hard part is remembering to harvest the seed so it doesn’t self sow throughout your garden. I actually have dill scattered throughout my garden and pull it up where I don’t want it.
Dill is a hardy annual grown both for it’s leaves and seeds. Dill leaves can be picked anytime. They are delicious in sour cream dips, on vegetables, and potatoes.
If you plan on using a dill head in pickles, harvest when there are both flowers and unripe seeds. Pickles are not the only way to use dill heads. Try a dill infused vinegar.
Dill seed is easy to save. The seed can be saved for seed for next year. The seed is also used to flavor breads, pickles, and has medicinal uses. The seeds are a mild sedative and digestive aid. Sucking on dill seeds can calm the digestive system.
Dill water has long been used to calm colicky babies. To make your own dill water, steep a teaspoonful of bruised seeds in a glass of hot water for a couple hours. Strain then sweeten the mixture. Adults can take 1 Tbs and children 1 tsp. (The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices)
The seed head of dill can also be dried and used as dill weed in cooking. Add it at the end of cooking so the flavor is not lost in cooking.
In my garden lace wings (a beneficial insect) love to lay their eggs on dill stems. The larvae of the lace wing are voracious aphid eaters and therefor a gardeners friend.

With so many uses dill seed is kind of a super seed and an easy way to start seed saving.
Below is a picture of lace wings eggs. The look like lollipops. The larvae look similar to lady beetle larvae.
Dill does not cross with any other veggies or herbs. Different varieties of dill can be cross pollinated by insects. If you want to try different varieties just wait to plant the second variety until he first has set seed. This is called timed isolation.


A dill umbel or seed head.

Dill produces umbels. Allow these to dry in the garden. Harvest seed from fully mature dry umbels ( the seeds will be brown) whose stems are slightly green. Pick the entire umbel and place over trays to catch the seed. Store the seed in a cool dry place if you are planning to replant. Dill seed can be stored up to 5 years. Remember germination rates decline with each year.

In real life, outside of coffee-table beautiful home canning books, some gardeners may find that their cucumbers are ready before their dill weed is.

Other canners will find that their store has a deal on cucumbers but there’s no fresh dill weed within miles to be found.

Or it’s the dead of winter, you are doing winter canning with imported cucumbers (despite the very remote odds of getting a crisp pickle with them), and the balcony where you grow your herbs in the summer has howling winds from Siberia whistling through it off of Lake Michigan.

So, you need to substitute some dried dill for the fresh. Purists may say “perish the thought”, but here’s some tips on how:

(Note: an umbel is a whorl, a round circle spray of the plants buds or flowers.)

Linda Ziedrich says that if a recipe calls for a fresh dill umbel and you don’t have one, use one teaspoon of dried dill seed instead. Ziedrich, Linda. The Joy of Pickling. Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press. 2009. Page 14.

For a 3-5″ (8 to 12 cm ) sprig of fresh dill, you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill weed.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation says, “For each quart, try 3 heads of fresh dill or 1 to 2 tablespoons dill seed (dill weed = 2 tablespoons).” National Center for Home Food Preservation. Frequently Asked Pickle Questions. Accessed March 2015.

If you do try to grow some dill herb, in a small patch of garden or in a window box, don’t plant the seed all at once. In her recipes in The Joy of Pickling, Linda Ziedrich is a big believer in using fresh herbs, even suggesting that it’s worth trying to grow some dill yourself, staggering the planting every few weeks until midsummer so that you have a constant supply as it matures. She says that fresh dill seeds taste very different; that they “taste fresh and mild” before they dry out. Ziedrich, Linda. The Joy of Pickling. Page 14.

If you’ve got a surfeit of fresh dill, you can freeze it. There’s no need to futz with ice cube trays. Just wash, and roll up in plastic bags, held in a log shape with rubber bands. (You may wish to double-bag it, to help prevent its aroma from passing to other foods near it in the freezer.) Plan to replace it within a year, as its flavour will fade. To use in pickling, just thaw first.

Many people feel that dill weed freezes more successfully than it dries.

References

1. Ziedrich, Linda. The Joy of Pickling. Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press. 2009. Page 14.
2. National Center for Home Food Preservation. Frequently Asked Pickle Questions. Accessed March 2015.
3. Ziedrich, Linda. The Joy of Pickling. Page 14.

Drying dill when bought fresh or harvested is a must if the intention is to preserve and store the spice for future use. A precaution prior to drying is to rinse dill’s fresh leaves and seeds with tap water to ensure the absence of clinging dirt or insects.

There are four common methods available when drying dill and each process has its distinct way of preserving the flavor and aroma of the herb.

READ ALSO: 10 Amazing Benefits of Dehydrating Food

How To Dry Dill – 4 Methods of Drying Dill

Air-drying dill

What do you need?

Paper towels or salad spinner

Rubber bands

Kitchen/Garden scissors

Container for dry dill leaves and seeds

Dry porch or any dry, shaded area around the house

Brown paper bags

Step-by-step guide of air-drying dill

STEP 1: Wash the plant with clean water and dry using paper towels or a salad spinner.

STEP 2: Collect the stem with leaves and seeds (sprigs). Separate them into small clusters and tie each bunch’s stem with a rubber band.

STEP 3: Slit the sides of paper bags and insert each bunch. Bags are for protection against dust. The slits are for air circulation, thus preventing the growth of molds or mildew.

STEP 4: Hang bunches upside down in a dry, shaded part of the house like the porch, cellar or attic. The bundles should be completely dry in about two weeks.

STEP 5: Collect the dry bunches, place them on a clean paper towel and separate the leaves and seeds from the stems.

STEP 6: Pour the seeds in an opaque, dry container. Crush the leaves and keep them in a similar container. Store the spices in a dry and dark place.

Drying dill with the food dehydrator

What do you need?

Food blender

Food dehydrator

Paper towels or salad spinner

Parchment paper

Container for dry dill leaves and seeds

Step-by-step guide of dehydrating dill in the food dehydrator

STEP 1: Wash the plant with clean water and dry using paper towels or a salad spinner. Separate by hand the leaves and seeds from the stem.

STEP 2: Place a liner or parchment paper over the food dehydrator’s tray. Spread the plant parts over the tray in a single layer.

STEP 3: Set the dehydrator’s temperature to 95 degrees and let the dill dry for about 4-6 hours.

STEP 4: The leaves are dry when they crumble to the touch. Separate the seeds and place them in a nontransparent, dry container.

STEP 5: Pour the crushed leaves into a food blender and run the device for about 1-2 minutes. Scoop the powdered form and transfer into a nontransparent, dry container. Store the spices in a dry and dark place.

READ ALSO: Which Food Dehydrator is Right for You

Drying dill in the oven

What do you need?

Paper towels or salad spinner

Wax paper

Container for dry dill leaves and seeds

Oven or gas stove

Step-by-step guide

STEP 1: Wash the plant with clean water and dry using paper towels or a salad spinner.

STEP 2: Set the oven’s temperature to the lowest setting (about 110°F (43°C)).

STEP 3: Place a liner or wax paper over the oven’s trays. Place and spread the plant parts over the tray in a single layer.

STEP 4: Insert tray inside the oven and let dry the dill for about 2-4 hours. Keep the oven doors open if it gets too hot.

STEP 5: Check the dill parts every 30 minutes for dryness. Dill drying’s finished once the leaves crumble.

STEP 6: Remove tray from the oven, let cool. Separate the seeds and place them in a nontransparent, dry container. Crush the leaves and likewise pour them in a similar container. Store the spices in a dry and dark place.

Drying dill in the microwave

What do you need?

Salad spinner or paper towels

Plate fit enough inside the microwave oven

Microwave oven

Container for dry dill leaves and seeds

Step-by-step guide

STEP 1: Wash the plant with clean water and dry using paper towels or a salad spinner.

STEP 2: Place two layers of paper towels over a plate that could fit inside the microwave oven.

STEP 3: Place and spread the plant parts over the plate in a single layer then set a single paper towel on top of them.

STEP 4: Insert the plate inside the device and set the temperature to high heat for about 30 seconds.

STEP 5: Check the dill if it’s dry after the time’s up. Continue for another 30 seconds if the herb is not dry enough to the touch. Mix the leaves between every session. Stop heating once the plant material breaks up into fine pieces when you so much as touch it.

STEP 6: Remove the plate from the microwave, let cool. Separate the seeds and place them in an opaque, dry container. Crush the leaves and likewise pour them in a similar container. Store the spices in a dry and dark place.

The four drying dill methods are all easy to do. Choosing the right procedure would depend on your needs.

For quick drying, the microwave method is the choice, but the spice’s flavor will only last from two to four weeks. Both the oven and microwave processes that use heat tend to discolor the leaves, reduce the flavor, blacken the spice if the plant is over dried, and present uneven drying.

The better methods are the use of air dry and food dehydrator which is observed to keep the flavor for a year. The air dry method’s drawback is the spice’s risk to mold and mildew contamination if drying is incomplete caused by the presence of high humidity in the atmosphere or premature collection of the plant before the two-week drying time is up.

The use of a food dehydrator is the best method that effectively preserves the appearance, taste, and aroma of dill. The cost will only be an issue if an expensive brand of the dehydrator is purchased.

Dill Can Get Out of Control

I haven’t always enjoyed eating dill. When I was a child, I remember taking it out from the meals or salads, on which my mom used to spread it. But I grew up and started to cook myself, so I’ve learned things about taste and herbs. One thing led to another and here I am now, almost ready to cook a dill casserole stew – if only my husband would like to eat it!

During the years, I’ve learned to spread fresh dill on raw cabbage or cucumber salad, but also on tomato or lettuce salad. The largest quantity of chopped dill I’m using is in green peas casserole – my favorite dish of all, ever!
I’m also adding fresh dill in cabbage or green beans casserole, for a better taste. Chopped dill on the cream cheese I use for stuffing kapia peppers, makes it tastier and good looking too.

I need lots of dill for all these dishes, for all year long. It’s easy to get it in the summer, but not so easy during the cold season. Although I can buy it from the supermarket, almost everyday, that dill isn’t the same as what grows in a garden. It’s a total different color and aroma, which is so important for the dishes’ taste and color .

Ever since I moved in to the countryside, I’ve been growing dill in my garden. At first, I had a few plants, here and there, between the roses – because they say it attracts the insects which are feeding the mealy bugs. Since those weren’t even close to the quantity I need, I’ve started to sow dill seeds on a square meter (10 sq feet) of soil, every summer. It isn’t much, yet it’s almost enough for our family’s needs. That’s why I was very happy when I received the great news from my friend, to come and pick up the dill from his garden.

I was skeptical at first and didn’t believe he had that much, but when I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I knew that dill can grow like one meter (3 feet) tall and bushy, if grown in a good soil, a sunny place and regularly watered.
Dill is an annual, self-seeded herb, the only species in the genus Anethum. It sprouts in May and reaches maturity in July. Dill has hollow stems and finely divided leaves. It blooms by the end of June. Flowers are many, small and yellow, arranged in an umbel. The bigger the plant, the bigger the umbel! Seeds are formed on the umbel, after the flowers are gone – about in July. If not harvested in time, the seeds get dry and are scattered everywhere, by the wind. I usually harvest some of my dill when it’s blooming, because that’s when the leaves are dark green and have the best aroma, which is given by the essential oils it contains. I’m leaving a few plants on purpose, until they form seeds, but before they get dry. I’m harvesting a few and keep them in a paper bag, with the umbels inside, so the seeds won’t scatter around. Those seeds are the best spice for the sauerkraut I make in the fall. I let the other plants in the garden, also on purpose, to scatter seeds around, for the next year’s dill patch. I’m sure my friend forgot more than a few plants in his garden!

My friend didn’t exaggerate at all, the dill was growing that tall and bushy that it was almost covering the corn plants. No wonder he wanted to get rid of it! And since he is single, he doesn’t need too much dill for the winter – but we do!!
Our friend was nice and helped me pull out the dill plants, then carried it for me to the car, until it didn’t fit anymore in the trunk – yes, that much and it wasn’t all!
Once I got back home, I put the dill plants in a huge bucket, filled with water, to stay fresh, until the next day, when I had time to rip off the leaves from the stalk.

Winter is usually hard in our country, that’s why I always need to freeze some dill – or dry it – any method it’s good, although I much prefer freezing. This is what I did with that huge amount of dill, put it in plastic bags and froze it. It was hard for me to do it all alone, but I had no choice but do it and had to do it quickly, otherwise it would have wilted. All that work and the dill would have been lost and I didn’t want that.

Last year was a full one, with a great crop, but not only for me, but also for our friend. He called again, asking me if I still wanted dill. I said “Yes!” and so I went again at his place to pick it up.
Fortunately, my daughter and my two grandsons were staying at my place, over the summer, so I had help for ripping off the dill leaves. The kids enjoyed the work very much and, therefore, I asked for their help every time I had more herbs to rip off – thus having a few minutes of peace and quiet in our home!

How To Store Dill For The Freshest Flavor

Dill is a delicate herb that is popular for pickling and for cooking seafood. While fresh dill does not have a long shelf life, you can use the right storage methods to preserve it for longer periods. Let’s review how to store dill for the freshest possible flavor.

Do not wash dill prior to storing

Dill is particularly susceptible to spoilage due to excessive moisture. Do not wash it unless absolutely necessary. Cases where you may want to make an exception to this rule include dill that has insects in or that is clearly dirty. If you do wash it, dry it as thoroughly as you can by patting it with paper towels before storing it.

Store in the refrigerator

If you have inspected your dill and find no dirt or insects, place the it on a damp paper towel and roll it up. Place the paper towel with the herb into a resealable plastic bag and store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. It can last for a week or longer with this storage method.

You can also place the bundle into a jar with water and cover it with a plastic bag. Place the jar with the bag over it into the refrigerator. To keep the dill from being exposed to too much moisture, you can put a paper towel in the bag to soak up any condensation. Another way to do this is to select a container that is tall enough to fit the entire dill bunch within it and that has a tight-fitting lid. Simply add an inch or two of water and place your dill in it then attach the lid. This can keep you from having to clean up spilled water in your refrigerator if the container tips over. With regular water changes, you can use this method to keep dill fresh for up to two weeks.

Freezing dill

Your best option when freezing dill is to freeze it whole. After you have made sure that your dill is clean, spread it on a baking sheet and place it in the freezer. Freeze for about thirty minutes. Remove from the baking sheet and place into labeled freezer bags for long term storage. This method of freezing keeps it from being frozen together in a single mass, so you can remove exactly as much as you need when you need it. You can even divide the stems into the exact amounts that you will use in your dishes before freezing.

You can also choose to cut the dill into smaller pieces and freeze it in an ice-cube tray. Place the pieces in the tray and add water. Freeze completely and then place the cubes into freezer bags.

Freezing dill makes it usable for up to a year.

Drying dill

You have a number of drying options including drying dill in a food dehydrator, an oven or in the open air.

In a food dehydrator, lay the leaves in a single layer on each tray and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for herbs. The drying process should take less than a day.

You can also dry it in the oven. Do this by preheating your oven to the lowest possible temperature. Spread the dill in a single layer on a baking sheet and place it into the oven. Start checking it every 30 minutes. The drying time can vary widely depending on humidity.

To dry dill in the open air, place it on a rack in a warm location with low humidity. Turn once every 24 hours or so to ensure even drying.

Another way to dry dill in the open air is simply to hang a bunch of it in a location with moving air and low humidity. This eliminates the need to turn the herb every day. If you choose this method, consider covering the herb with a paper bag into which you have poked holes. This protects the herb from dust and helps it to keep its color by shielding it from sunlight.

Note that drying dill in the open air may take several days.

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