When asked, “what’s your favourite herb?” I rarely hear “DILL” as the answer. This, often overlooked herb is, however, to be found in the top 10 list of herbs “always on hand” for culinary herbalists and famous chefs around the globe. It’s in many of our traditional dishes and is so much more than a simple ‘pickling’ ingredient! What do YOU do with dill?
Dill Medicine is ‘ages’ old and can be an important herbal healer. Whether it’s Dill Weed or Dill Seed, I have some ideas to share about this ‘workhorse’ of the herbal world.
The wispy and fern-like leaves of Dill have a sweet distinctive taste and are best used fresh. Dill is available at farmers’ markets during summer and early fall. I have grown it, and some years are more successful than others. Dill has a bad habit of ‘bolting’ during the first heat spell of a Toronto summer, which can be in June, and there goes the dill. When I am organized, I plant it several times during the spring and summer to enable a small supply to thrive for my own use. It does not last long in the fridge but freezes well. I always purchase some from local markets in early September and make my annual goodies with it, freezing the rest in small bunches or in ice cube trays in broth or water.
By the way ~ some chefs are now using dill pollen (as in from the dilly flower above) in their cuisine!
Dill Medicine Highlights:
Probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding delightful Dill (Anethum graveolens), is the gentle soothing way it works with our digestive system ~ from infant to elder. Dill weed aids digestion and calms upset tummies and Dill seed does too! In fact, people chomping or sucking on dill seeds is reported in biblical times, to help avoid indigestion and hiccups.
As one of my favourite ‘carminatives’, dill can both prevent and relieve gas and bloating.* As an anti-spasmodic, it helps with both gassy tummies and cramps in general.
I sometimes add a little tinctured dill to a sleep remedy to add flavour and another helper when soothing, sedating and calming elements are needed.
Dill is anti-inflammatory and has a long tradition of being used to help to improve arthritic conditions. So many herbal friends ARE anti-inflammatory in nature, and so I always encourage you to find ways to add these life-enhancing herbs into your meals! I am talking about graduating from “garnishes” to making sure there’s enough to taste and go to work for us!
Dill Seed is an excellent source of Calcium, as 1 tablespoon dill seed = 100 mg Calcium. ^^ It’s easy to make a very simple “high Calcium tea” –> Just add 1 tbsp of dill seed to 1 cup of just boiled water. Stir. Allow to steep until warm and drink.
*check out the glossary under ‘articles’ above for reference to any unfamiliar terms.
Essential oils of dill are anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal as well as anti-congestive and anti-histiminic too.
If you think about it, we can all benefit from a cup or two of dill seed tea to calm and soothe our digestion, add calcium to support bone health and enjoy the anti-microbial (etc) attributes at the same time!
Have you ever heard of “meetin’ seeds”? Years ago, folks carried a combination of seeds wrapped in a hankie or tucked into a pocket, when attending church to freshen breath, stave off hunger pains and relieve gas. Hey! They were onto to something there. Why not create our own blends and have on hand, during this busy life, to see us through a meeting or an appointment!? We can each make our own blends but if you want to honour the tradition, here’s the recipe:
Meetin’ Seeds: Caraway + Dill + Fennel seeds mixed together. That’s it! All we need now is a small container, and we’re set. I’m going to do this and see if I actually make use of the ‘new habit’.
Does that Calcium Tea, above, remind you of anything? Have you ever heard of “Gripe Water”? There are several companies around the world that make a version of this concoction, which mothers have used for centuries to calm a colicky baby. It’s easy enough to make the original version, and there are combinations which work well, too. If you are a mom or know a mom with a wee one with possible digestive issues, give these ideas a try ~ and please pass along. We don’t need to purchase commercial concoctions when the lovingly prepared home-crafted herbal remedy works well.
Dill Medicine includes “dill” gripe water:
Use 1 tablespoon of Dill seeds per cup of water. Make a small or large amount, that’s your choice. Some moms prefer to make a larger batch to use over a 2-3 day period.
Measure the dill seeds. Place into a cup or a larger container (if making more than a cup)
Bruise the dill seeds with the back of a spoon.
Add the water. Cover. Allow to cool. Strain out the dill seeds (they can be used again, so reserve in fridge in a sealed container for a day or two)
This very soothing tea, or dill-infused water, can be enjoyed by mom too for added benefit.
^^source: The Good Herb. Hurley, Judith Benn (William Morrow & Company)
An article about Dill would not be complete without a nod to dill’s participation in “pickling”.
Here’s a wonderful combination from Karen England from the IHA Herb of the Year book available here
Karen’s Pickling Spice Blend
2 tablespoons dill seeds
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons celery seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns2 teaspoons coriander seeds
6-8 bay leaves, crumbled, medium fine
1-2 small red chilis, broken or chopped medium-fine, including seeds
Mix and store in glass jar with good lid.
Let’s not forget sweet and feathery and so pretty: Dill Weed.
Dill Medicine includes using this delightful herb in all manner of dishes. Eat your medicine!
What do you like to do with dill?
I love to add into egg dishes, make cucumber salad, enjoy with smoked salmon, red onions & capers.
I tincture dill weed and dill seed and use in herbal formulas. Some years, I do make pickles and some years I don’t have the time. I love the scent of dill and the taste too. It’s such a versatile herb, with it’s gentle but still powerful attributes.
Probably twice a week, all summer long and even into autumn, I make a well-loved Cucumber salad with Dill
It’s easy to make and well loved. This recipe makes enough for hearty portions for a 4 people. Adjust the amount based on your needs. It tastes better the next day and will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
- 2 English cucumbers (or 3 field cukes)
- 2-3 tablespoons sour cream or yogourt
- sea salt + fresh ground pepper
- 2-3 sprigs dill weed
- Peel the cucumbers
- Slice thinly into a bowl
- Add a little salt and toss to mix
- Leave the bowl on the counter, covered or not, for 3-4 hours
- Drain water off, reserving the cukes
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt or sour cream
- Toss to cover completely.
- Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the dill into small pieces
- Add to the mixture and use a spoon to gently turn the slices, so that the dill is blended
- Keep refrigerated until just before serving.
- Garnish with a sprig of dill if desired.
- This dish is so refreshing and cooling and goes with almost any summer meal!
My other most used ‘dilly’ recipe comes from my dear friend Rob, who treated us to this festive appetizer, years ago. It has become a favourite in my home.
Cucumber Canapes with Dill ––> coming up next~
Love to hear your own personal DILLY faves! Please share!!