About Dill

January 24, 2011

About Dill

Dill and its soft, flowing leaves conjure a breeze.  This beautiful herb, Anethum graveolens, comes from the same family as parsley, cumin and bay.  Both its leaves and seeds can be used to season food.  The leaves are slightly sweet, while seeds are sometimes compared to caraway, bittersweet and orange-y.

Native to Russia, West Africa, and the Mediterranean, dill is also known for its healing properties.  The word “dill” comes from the old Norse, “dilla,” meaning to lull.  It was traditionally used to soothe upset stomachs and relieve insomnia.  As dill can relieve flatulence and hiccups, even Charlemagne the Conqueror was said to have placed in on the dinner table for his guests.  How thoughtful!

A “chemoprotective” food (like parsley), dill can help neutralize carcinogens such as those in some smoke from cigarettes and burning trash.  It’s anti-oxidant and antibacterial properties have made it a favored medicine through the millennia.  It is also high in calcium.

As a spice, fresh dill leaves are revered for their sweet grassy taste.  The Scandinavians favor it as an accompaniment to salmon, and it pairs well with other fish, cheeses, eggs, cream sauce, and potatoes.  It is also a perfect addition to soups and salads.

To store fresh dill, wrap it in damp paper towel or keep its stems in water and store in the fridge.  It can also be chopped and frozen in ice cube trays of water or soup stock.

You can also dry it or freeze it.  To dry it, just hang a bunch and let it dry completely, before crumbling it and storing it in a jar, or finely chop it first and let it dry on a flat surface.  To freeze, just put it in a freezer bag, force the air out, and seal and freeze it. When you need some dill, open the bag, break of the amount you need and reseal the bag.

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