Dill, a member of the carrot family, has been
a favorite culinary herb for centuries. It is valued both for its flavorful
foliage and for its pungent seeds. The name "dill" comes from an Old Norse
word, "dilla," which means "to lull," and has been frequently prescribed
as a tea to treat insomnia and digestive problems. In the Middle Ages
it was regarded as a charm against witchcraft. In modern times its essential
oil is used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and liqueurs.
Dill is a delightful herb with many culinary uses. Native to southern
Europe, it is a staple in Greek cooking and is common in Scandinavian
and German food as well. Fresh or dried, dill leaves add a distinctive
flavor to salads, fish, vegetable casseroles and soups. Used whole or
ground, dill seeds add zest to breads, cheeses and salad dressings. The
seeds are the best way to use dill in dishes that require cooking over
a long time. Of course, dill is best known as a pickling herb for cucumbers
and also green beans, carrots, and beets.
Sow the seed where you want it to grow as it is difficult to transplant.
Stake tall plants. For best results, pick leaves just as flowers open.
Pick seeds when they are flat and brown. Both the leaves and seeds of
dill are popular for flavoring pickles, sauerkraut, and beet dishes. It
can be combined with garlic and pepper to produce a highly flavored Mediterranean
or East European pork roast (often cooked over a spit outdoors). The seeds
yield a fragrant oil. Dill is an annual, but its seeds can over-winter
in the soil, popping up the following year. Dill grows well in gardens
throughout the U.S. and southern Canada