Dill (Anethum graveolens)
The feathery leaves resemble fennel but its flavour is quite distinct. Dill has a mild and warm flavour.
The aroma is faint, almost similar to the scent of aniseed. The herb, especially when fresh, has a much sweeter fragrance than its dried fruits. Dill leaves have a wonderful aroma.
Dill pairs beautifully with seafood, smoked salmon, potatoes, eggs, fish and carrots.
Dill is an annual herb, it is a cool temperate herb though can adapt quite well. It is ideal to be grown in a region where there is 1,000-1,700ml of rain annually. It is a summer crop and is best suited to full sunlight. Temperatures should be between 10⁰C and 25⁰C or growth could be stunted/ fatal.
It can be easily grown from seed though should not be transplanted once sown. Because of its light nature is quite susceptible to wind so should be planted close to other trees in a sunny area and protected from the wind.
It is best to plant dill seeds 15cm apart. Dill is prone to bolting in hot temperature so ensure that it is watered regularly.
Don’t trim more than half of dill leaves at once. The main flowering period for dill in Australia is December-January. After flowering the dill plant will die. Plant new seeds before the next season.
Dill was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans and has been mentioned in St Matthew’s Gospel when it was used as a tithe. It was also used in dynastic Egypt as a flavouring and by the Greeks and Romans as a medicine, as well as flavouring. In medieval times, dill was commonly used as a culinary herb as well as a pickling spice.
In the 10th century it was recommended that every household grow dill as is was useful for hindering witches and counteracting their enchantment. Because of this, a little bag of dill seeds were worn over the heart as protection from harm.
Dill is usually given as dillwater which is thought to aid wind in babies or disordered digestion. Dill's main purpose is for calming the digestive system.
The essential oil found in dill assists in relieving intestinal spasms and griping. If you suffer from a cold, dill is a fantastic cure as it is often added to cold and flu remedies.
The word dill originates from a Saxon word meaning to lull, as dill has a calming effect and was treasured as a lullaby remedy. Drinking dill tea can increase milk supply in nursing mothers. This dill can then be passed onto the baby soothing its tummy and decreasing wind.
Does dill come from fennel?
The fronds of a fennel plant do look similar to the dill leaves, though their taste is quite different. The anise flavour from fennel is a lot stronger than dill. It is not recommended to substitute fennel leaves for dill.
Does dill go bad?
The dill leaves can wilt and die like most other herbs. As the essential oils leave the plant the leaves will go limp. Dill seeds typically take a long time to expire as they have been dried. They should be consumed within 1 year or the flavour could deteriorate.
Should dill be allowed to flower?
As dill is an annual plant, after it flowers it will die. Plucking the flowers off may slow down the process though it will not stop it completely. Collect the seeds from the flower buds and keep them for next season.