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Dill

 

Synonyms: dill weed (leaves), dill seeds (fruits)

botanical name: Anethum graveolens


Dill

 

eben den bekannten Gartendillsorten (Anethum graveolens var. Hortorum und ssp. sowa), die als Gewürzpflanzen kultiviert werden, gibt es in Südasien auch den wild wachsenden Ackerdill (Anethum graveolens var. graveolens).

In addition to the familiar garden variety of dill (Anethum graveolens var. hortorum ssp. sowa), which is cultivated as an herb plant, there is also the wild-growing field dill (Anethum graveolens var. graveolens) in southern Asia.

 

Dill probably stems from the eastern Mediterranean area, Russia and the Near East. It was already used in ancient times. Today it is cultivated almost everywhere.

 

The chief areas for the cultivation of dill are the Netherlands and the Balkan States, but it is also grown in North Africa, North and South America and China.

 

Dill can be grown for one's own use in the herb garden. The fresh herb comes primarily from domestic cultivation and neighbouring European countries. We import dried dill in large part from Hungary, Israel and Egypt.

 

In several middle and eastern European countries, such as the Netherlands, Hungary and the Balkan States, dill seed is harvested.

 

Availability

Fresh dill weed is sold all year round, and deep-frozen and dried dill is also available. In addition, young dill plants are sold in pots.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

Dill is an herbaceous annual plant and belongs to the umbellifers. It can reach a height of 1.5 m and has round, finely grooved firm stems.

 

The leaves are dark-green to light blue and very finely pinnate.

 

The reddish-yellow to yellow-brown seeds develop from the yellow umbels. They break into two parts when they mature and are thus known as schizocarps. These are oblong, oval and flattened. They have light-coloured ribs and are up to 5 mm long and 2-3 mm wide.

 

The scent and flavour of the tangy herb are pleasantly aromatic. Dill smells sweet and is reminiscent of anise and lemons. The leaves taste mildly sweet, like anise and parsley. Above all the young leaves and tips have a very fine aroma.

 

Their flavour is strongest if they are harvested prior to florescence. Dill seeds smell lightly of fennel. At first they taste mild, then piquant and somewhat like caraway seed.

 

Ingredients

Fresh dill weed contains less than 1% essential oil. Nevertheless, as with most herbs, this is the component responsible for the aroma and flavour. The main substances in the oil are dill ether and phellandren, which are determinant for the typical dill aroma.

 

At up to 5%, the content of essential oils is considerably higher in the seeds than in the leaves. The composition of the oil in the seeds also differs from that in the leaves: here the main components are carvone, dyhydrocarvone and limonene, which give the seeds their aroma.

 

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Like all fresh herbs, fresh dill should be used as quickly as possible after it is harvested. Wrapped in a plastic bag, it will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Dill can also be deep-frozen, but it will then lose much of its aroma.

 

When dried the herb loses much of its flavour. To retain the aroma as much as possible, dill tips are frequently freeze-dried. The dried leaves and whole seeds can be kept for 1-2 years if they are protected from light and moisture. Ground seeds do not keep, however.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Dill is used fresh, dried and deep-frozen. Dried goods are usually finely cut 'dill tips', i.e. only the young shoots and leaves of the plant. Dried 'dill weed' usually also contains stems with umbels or unripe seeds. The dried fruits of the plant are termed dill seed or seed dill.

 

Too much heat is detrimental to the aroma of the dill leaves, because it causes the essential oil to evaporate. Therefore, dill should be added to dishes only at the end of cooking and should be cooked only briefly or steeped.

 

Dill is a typically Nordic herb. It is especially popular in the Scandinavian countries, as it is excellent with fish and seafood, particularly salmon, fresh eel, carp, young herring, shrimp and crab. In Scandinavia the seeds are also used in baking bread and cake.

 

Dill is also good for seasoning many vegetable dishes, e.g. beans, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and zucchini. Dill also harmonizes well in soups, sauces, egg dishes, cucumber salads, curd cheese and herb butter.

 

Dill weed and seeds are used to pickle cucumbers and to make sauerkraut, herb vinegar, white dill sauce, mayonnaise and remoulade sauce. You can make dill vinegar very easily yourself, by steeping the umbels for 1-2 weeks in vinegar.

 

Essential oil of dill is used industrially to make herbal cordials and perfume.

 

Seasoning tip

Dill mixes well with parsley, basil, garlic, paprika, mustard and capers. The seeds harmonize in flavour with garlic, coriander, ginger, turmeric and cumin.

 

 

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