In addition to great pickling properties (“dill pickles), the herb dill is an exciting addition to salmon and other grilling fishes. While not as readily used in American cooking, it is a traditional favorite in Greek, Russian, Lebanese, Scandinavian, and Syrian recipes.
With delicate, feathery fronds, dill is a member of the parsley family (and similar in taste to its relative, anise). As annuals, the plants peak in late summer and have a relatively short growing season.
Seeds and leaves have somewhat different flavors and are not interchangeable. Both are available in fresh and dried forms (the dried leaves are referred to as dill weed).
While two types of dill exist – American/European and Japanese/Indian – the European species is the most commercially produced variety.
Always purchase fresh if possible. Seeds can be ground or cooked whole while leaves can be chopped or torn (but not crushed).
- Dried seeds will last far longer than dill weed.
- Keep fresh leaves refrigerated in a dry plastic bag. The leaves can be frozen in water as cubes.
- Like many other fresh herbs, dill loses flavor with too much heat. Add in the last five minutes or less of cooking. However, seed flavor will intensify with longer heating times.
- Any mustard-based sauce is enhanced with a touch of dill.
- This is a dominant herb and may not marry well with other strongly-flavored ingredients. About 1/2 teaspoon is enough for four servings of any recipe.
- Mix with butter before using as a sauté. Add a touch of lemon juice and drizzle over grilled steaks.
- When using dried (not fresh) dill weed, crush the leaves to release more flavor.
- A combination of oregano and mint can be used instead of dill weed.
- Use equal amounts of caraway seeds to replace dill seeds.