We’ve had a long history of dill use and appreciation, and it is well-documented. We know the importance of dill early on which is why it is valued even during ancient times – case in point: dill was among the items found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II. Dill is not exclusive to Egypt; in fact, dill is also found in the Greek city of Samos in the 7th century BC. Greek philosopher Theophrastus also mentioned dill in his writing. Dill is also mentioned in the Bible as well as in Egyptian writings.
Species: A. graveolens
Binomial Name: Anethum graveolens
- The origin of the name dill is the old English word dilla, which means to lull, an appropriate name for an herb that is used to lull people to comfort by alleviating discomfort caused by stomach pain and other ailments.
- Dill is a sign of wealth among ancient Greeks and Romans.
- The Greek physician Hippocrates recognized the use of dill to clean the mouth. Today, dill is used to remedy bad breath.
- The Russians supposedly considered including dill (ykpon in Russian) in the food of Russian cosmonauts because of the herbs’ antiflatulent property which is useful especially for those who are living in confined quarters with closed air supply.
Dill Buying Guide
Dill leaves are sold in markets. You can buy potted dill plants, freshly-cut leaves, dried leaves, powdered leaves, and dried seed. In places where these items are not sold year-round, there is an option of ordering online although the choices are limited and the condition of freshly-cut leaves is not guaranteed despite next-day delivery.
There are different varieties of dill and these are among the common varieties sold by growers and used by consumers.
- Bouquet – Long stems, bright yellow flowers, dark green foliage – this type of dill is popular because it is both ornamental and edible.
- Compatto – Standing only 18n inches tall as a mature plant, this drought and heat tolerant dill is compact but aromatic nonetheless. This dill is ideal as a container herb and its leaves can be harvested in just 40-50 days.
- Delikat – The main characteristic of this 24-inch variety is that it has dense, thick foliage allowing for good leaf and seed yields.
- Dukat – This Danish variety also known as Tetra has an intense flavor which makes it great for cooking. It is aromatic, flavorful, and has a high oil content.
- Elephant – This variety has a milder flavor compared to others. This dill can grow to as high as 4 feet.
- Fernleaf – This dill has bushy fern-like leaves and an incredible scent. Of all the varieties, fernleaf is the one that has leaves that can retain flavor for longer after it is cut.
- Greensleeves – This dill has a sweet, mild flavor.
- Hera – This fragrant dill has bluish leaves.
- Herkules – Known for its arching leaves, this dill can produce massive flower heads. It is not ideal to use its older leaves because these are often bland after losing its flavor over time but this dill is great for attracting beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.
- Mammoth Long Island – This is a large dill variety that can grow up to six feet. This dill has a flavor that pairs best with fish.
- Superdukat – This dill has an intense aromatic flavor and its abundant foliage has a high oil content.
- Teddy – This dill has thick leaves and dense foliage.
- Vierling – This dill, with its thick stems and dark blue leaves, is preferred by commercial florists for use in cut flower arrangements. Vierling attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.
Dill Production & Farming in Texas
In Central Texas, spring means it is time for growers and gardeners to plant dill, partly for its harvest, and partly to help attract beneficial insects like lacewings and syrphid flies which feed on aphids.
Dill is ready to be harvested come summer in places with temperate climates. Dill can grow anywhere with an altitude no higher than 2000m above sea level. It requires an annual rainfall of about 500 to 1700 mm. Dill does not thrive well in wet places or where there is frost. Dill plants should have a monthly average temperature of 16 to 18°C. It is important for dill to get enough sunlight to ensure that they grow big leaves with a large leaf area and have high herb yield. Lack of sufficient sunlight also slows down the development of the flower-bud. It should be planted in sandy loam soil with a pH of 5.6 to 6.5. When planting from seed, make sure to wait between 2 to 4 weeks for the seeds to germinate. Flowers should start to appear 2 to 3 months after sowing, and in 5 to 6 months after sowing, the seeds are ripe for harvest.
Dill is a great companion plant because it attracts insects that are beneficial to cucumbers and broccoli. But it should be placed alongside carrots or tomatoes.
While dill has no history of suffering from a serious pest infestation, there are other concerns that may require the use of chemical solutions.
- Copper sulfate pentahydrate – Used as a fungicide to treat leaf spots on dill.
- Hydrogen dioxide and peroxyacetic acid – Use this to treat possible root rot problems of the dill plant.
This aromatic herb with delicate, feathery green feathers is native to southern Russia, western Africa, southwest Asia, southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean region.
Because many industries depend on dill and its byproducts, it has grown and become an important industry divided into three categories: dill seeds/fruits, dill plants, and dill seed oil. When it comes to cultivating dill for its fruit (also known as dill seeds), the world’s largest producers and exporters include India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Hungary, and Egypt. The United States, Japan, and Germany are the three countries that heavily use and process dill seeds.
Dill seed oil is also very in-demand. The United States, China, and Australia and the three major producers of dill seed oil.
Also, many small-scale growers in Southeast Asia benefit from the global demand for dill (freshly-cut and dried dill leaves). In Europe, Scandinavia and Germany are the two countries involved in the dill leaves industry.
Growers and suppliers of fresh dill sold for culinary or medicinal (home remedy) use want to maintain the quality of the herbs which is why these are placed inside sealed, polythene bags in cartons and kept at low temperatures (6-12°C).
You can buy fresh dill leaves sold in a plastic clamshell container which allows you to see the condition of the leaves inside. Packaging may also vary depending on the supplier who would use plastic food-grade zip lock bags or food-grade liner inside a box.
Dill smells good but it has a pungent and slightly bitter taste with a hint of caraway, although the flavor varies depending on the type of dill that is used. It is a versatile herb that goes well with vegetables, meat, and dairy, and is eaten all around the world in many different ways.
Dill loses its flavor fast when dried. If you want to preserve dill, the better option is to freeze-dry the leaves. This will keep the leaves fresh and flavorful for a year. To freeze dill leaves, put these inside a plastic bag, and put the plastic bag inside the refrigerator. You can also freeze them using ice cube trays.
To dry dill leaves, spread these out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle. Place the dried leaves inside a container with a lid and store in a dry, dark place away from sunlight. Inside the spice cabinet or spice drawer is a good place.
Dill is used for soups, salads, and sauces as a garnish, seasoning, or main ingredient. The leaves and the inflorescences (the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers) are often finely chopped before being added to the dish. Dill also helps flavor pickled food (cucumbers and onions for example). In some countries, dill is used in pastries and bread, while in India, dill is used for making curry powder. It is also good to pair with milk and other dairy products like tvorog (or quarg, quark) and use it as a sandwich spread.
Dill is an important herb in Scandinavian cooking. It is also commonly used in Russian and North African cuisine. Some of the popular dishes seasoned with dill include the Nordic dish gravlax (salmon cured in salt and dill), the Polish salad mizeria, the Eastern European beetroot soup called borscht, the Russian cold soup okroshka, and dill pickles.
Dill provides calcium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. 100 grams of dry dill leaves have water (7g), protein (20g), fat (4g), carbohydrates (44g), fiber (12g), and ascorbic acid (60 mg). The energy value is approximately 1060 kJ/100 g, while 100 grams of dry dill fruits contain water (8g), protein (16g), fat (14g), carbohydrates (34g), and fiber. The energy value is 1275 kJ/100 g.
- Calcium: 208mg
- Iron: 6.59mg
- Sodium: 61mg
- Potassium: 738mg
Dill is antiseptic. It is also used to alleviate stomach problems and swollen joints. Dill is useful for those suffering from insomnia, diarrhea, or menstrual disorder. It is also used for dysentery. Eating dill is good for your bone health. This plant, when consumed regularly, also helps fight cancer.
When Are Dill in Season in Texas?
To find out when Dill are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.