Dill is a soft; yet crisp aromatic spice with slightly sweet and sour fragrances. It’s suitable for many appetizer and entree preparations (mild cheeses, vegetable dishes, soups and cream sauces) that call for a savoury yet subtle spice.
Dill is an annual of the parsley family and is related to Anise, Caraway, Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel. The name Dill is thought to have originated from the Anglo-Saxon ‘dylle’ meaning to soothe or lull. It’s an increasingly popular herb throughout the world and is found in many Scandinavian, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. Dill is also a unique plant because both its leaves as well as seeds can be used for seasoning food.
Dill is a hardy annual that thrives in a sunny, sheltered position and is native (and grows wild) in many areas of the world including Southern Europe and the Mediterranean countries; Western Asia and North and South America. Dill is a very popular flavouring in northern, central and eastern European countries, but hardly used at all in France or Italy.
Dill is fast growing and very easy to cultivate. It’s an annual aromatic herb, growing to about 3ft (90cm) tall, with a single stems and feathery leaves. It’s best propagated from seed. Sow the seed straight into the ground from April to June, (spring) place 2inches apart and plant in good garden soil and in a sunny position. It’s best grown in soils that are medium rich in nutrient content and well drained.
One of the advantages of planting dill is that it is heat and drought resistant, but it does produce best when watered at regular intervals at least twice weekly.
The plant is very intolerant of root disturbance and should not be transplanted because it will quickly run to seed. Dill is a hardy plant that thrives on long days and cool weather.
One of the easiest herbs to grow, Dill would make a great first herb for someone who has never grown herbs before. It’s the type of herb that can be harvested at any time, its young leaves offering the best flavour. Dill is also a helpful plant to have in the garden since it attracts beneficial insects whose larvae feed on aphids making it a good plant to protect your roses.
Though not the most popular of herbs, dill is generally used in soups, salads, crock-pot recipes, dips, vinaigrettes, and with dishes containing fish or sour cream and of course, the principal flavouring in dill pickles. It’s also used to add zest to potato salads, egg salads and sauerkraut, and to flavour vinegars and sauces. Dill is also used in poultry and egg dishes, to flavour meats and stews and as a seasoning in casseroles. Dill is used to flavour many vegetable dishes, particularly peas and beans and dishes made from the cabbage family of plants. Known for its crisp grassy taste and rich aroma, Dill is a perfect seasoning for seafood. The best way to use dill is fresh from the garden, so during the growing season, cut your dill to use fresh as you need it. To preserve Dill simply dry and keep for use at a later time.
Dill is a very good source of dietary fibre and is an excellent dietary supplement because it’s rich in manganese, vitamin C, calcium, flavanoids, iron and magnesium. Additionally, Dill is a good source of antioxidants so adding just a little to your meal is an ideal way to boost your antioxidant intake.
Dill has been attributed with many medicinal qualities as follows:
Reputed to have a calming effect on the digestive tract
Is a diuretic that aids in curtailing infection.
Is an effective disinfectant and carminative.
Is soothing, aids digestion and also helps with constipation.
Used in Gripe water that is given to babies to relieve wind and colic.
Useful in stimulating and regulating menstrual flow.
Is reputed to cure hiccups, stomach aches, insomnia, and bad breath
Helps individuals suffering from insomnia.