The word “dill” comes from the Norse “dilla”, meaning “to lull”. Drinking dill tea is recommended to overcome insomnia. A native to Europe, it is a Russian favourite and can be cultivated near the Arctic Circle. Both seeds and leaves are edible. It was known as a medicinal herb to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where soldiers placed burned dill seeds on their wounds to promote healing.

Medieval Europe could not grow it fast enough for love potions, casting spells and for protection against witchcraft. “Therewith her Veruayne and her Dill, That hindreth Witches of their will“ (Drayton, Nymphidia, 1627) . Carrying a bag of dried dill over the heart was considered protection against hexes. The seed is light brown, winged and oval, with one side flat, with two ridges. The other side is convex with three ridges and three oil channels. Seeds are about 3.5 mm (0.15 in) long. The leaves and stalks are aromatic and are used fresh or for pickling.

Bouquet: aromatic and somewhat sweet
Flavour: aromatic and slightly bitter, similar to caraway
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Culinary Uses

Dill is mainly used in pickling, where most of the plant is used. “Dill Pickles” have become a North American classic and in Europe Sauerkraut and vinegars have been popular for centuries. It is especially popular in Russia and Scandinavia, where it is used in courts-bouillons and sauces for fish, pickled salmon, casseroles and soups.

It is also used on cakes and breads, particularly in rye breads, the way caraway is used. It should be used sparingly as the flavour grows. Its flavour works well in sour cream, yogurt sauces and dill pickle seasoning for popcorn. The chopped fresh leaves are frequently used with trout and salmon, shrimp, deviled eggs, green beans, cauliflower, beets, soups, cottage and cream cheese.

Crown dill is the herb that has been harvested after blossoming. Compared to baby dill, crown dill has a stronger and more aromatic, anise-like flavour. Its flower heads and seeds are mainly used to flavour crayfish cooking liquid and various pickles.

Preparation and Storage

Seeds can be used whole or crushed in a mill or coffee grinder. The dried seeds keep indefinitely when kept out of sunlight in an airtight container.

Health Benefits of Dill

Dill seeds contain carvone as an essential oil. Dill is considered caminative, stomachic and slightly stimulant. Dill water is given to children for digestive problems. Also it “destroyeth the hiccups”.

Plant Description and Cultivation

An erect umbelliferous, hardy annual of the parsley family, growing to 1 m (3 ft) tall. The leaves are feathery and fernlike. Yellow flower umbrels top the plant in mid-summer. Dill will grow in most soils but requires a sunny location.

Other Names

Dill Seed, Dilly, Garden Dill

French: aneth
German: Dill
Italian: aneto
Spanish: éneldo
Indian: surva
Lao: phak si

Scientific Name

Anethum graveolens syn: Peucedanum graveolens
Fam: Umbelliferae

Image by Zsuzsanna Tóth from Pixabay