(Anethum graveolens – Umbelliferae / Apiaceae)
Dill resembles its close relative fennel in appearance, and is recognized by its large umbels of yellow flowers and its lacy foliage. Edible parts of dill include the flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds.
Common varieties of dill include ‘Fernleaf’, ‘Bouquet’, and ‘Dukat’, and nutrients of dill include potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. Dill has a reputation of soothing tummy troubles. “Dill’s common name comes from a Norse word meaning ‘to lull’ and refers to the fact that the herb was once used to induce sleep.” –The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs
Dill is an herb that doesn’t take to transplanting well, due to its long taproot that is easily damaged. For best results, sow seeds directly in shallow trenches in a sunny spot after the danger of frost has passed — mid to late spring in cold climates and early fall in temperate to warm climates.
Soil should be fertile and well-draining. Keep soil moist until established and then water moderately. Although dill is an herb that will tolerate poor soil, its leaves may grow bitter and tough. Dill can be grown in a container, but may grow thin and lanky if pot is not deep enough and require staking.
Dill is considered to be an easy to grow annual herb, growing 2 to 5 feet in height. Because of its height, it’s best to grow in the back of the garden, but be sure to allow a good distance away from carrots and fennel as they may cross pollinate and interbreed. Thin to 8″ to 12″ apart when plants are a few inches tall.
Be sure to deadhead before plants go to seed if you wish to prevent self-seeding. If allowed to go to seed, dill will proliferate profusely.
The leaves and stems should be used fresh or freeze. The leaves can be dried using a microwave as well. The fresh and dried leaves are referred to as “dillweed” or “dill weed”.
The seeds/fruits should be harvested when light brown in color before they drop. Cut long stems with seedheads, ties stems loosely together and hang upside down in a hot, dry space. Cover the seedheads with a paper bag and the seeds will fall into the bag as they dry, normally over a period of days to a few weeks. Store the gathered seeds in an airtight container in a dry, dark place. If properly gathered and stored, seeds should stay viable for many years.
Dill is often used in pickling and pickles, potato salad, green salads, breads, crackers, soups and stews, herb butters, fish and seafood, vinegars, salad dressings, cheese spreads, egg dishes, grilled and steamed vegetables (carrots and cabbage are especially delicious with dill), rice, curry powders and masalas, beets, cucumbers, and meats such as lamb, pork, and poultry.
Dill weed (the leaves) is especially yummy with seafood and shellfish, salads, herb butter, dips, sauces, soups, vegetable stews, fish dishes, vinegars and oils, breads and sandwiches, egg and cheese dishes, green beans, wax beans, and cabbage. Dill seeds are used in pickling, coleslaw, cakes, breads, and teas.
Dill is also used medicinally for digestive issues, such as gas, bloating, and indigestion. It is also said to calm sensitive stomachs and ease nausea. In larger doses, it is said to be a diuretic. The seed is often prepared as tinctures or teas when used for health problems.
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