Dill is a dainty, fragile herb. It can’t take the heat, so the best time to grow it is in the spring and fall depending on where you live. That’s when you’ll see it more often in the grocery stores, too. Here in NC it’s time to start harvesting all of your dill since the hot summer weather is about to settle in.
Dill pairs well with the delicate tastes of early spring vegetables like peas, asparagus, and new potatoes. Dill also enhances carrots and beets. Dill weed is delicious in egg salad and creamy sauces, and with most fish. We like to add some to our poaching water when we make poached salmon.
Dill weed dries well, but as with most herbs fresh is more flavorful. On the other hand, dill seed is quite pungent, making it perfect for pickling spices, fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut), and salad dressings.
The name “dill” comes from the Norse word dilla meaning “to soothe or to lull” which appropriately alludes to its carminative properties (relieving gas and bloating). Both the fresh leaves and the seed have been used for thousands of years, with written records going back over 5000 years to Egypt and Babylon.
Gladiators in Rome and Greece were fed meals covered with dill, as it was believed to impart valor and courage, perhaps by calming down their panic-stricken hearts!
Primarily, dill is used for soothing the stomach and gas pains. Dill water is an old folk remedy for colic, and is made by adding 1 to 5 drops of high-quality food grade oil of dill to 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. It is considered safe for babies and children with gas and/or stomach cramps.
Dill seeds were also called “meetinghouse” seeds because they were often chewed in England during long church services to keep children and grumbling stomachs quiet.
Dillweed tea is believed to increase a nursing mother’s breast milk as well as soothe her baby’s colic. The root can be boiled and taken for colds, flu, and coughs. Because of its soothing qualities it’s a good component in teas that induce sleep.
Copyright © by Bobbi Mullins, originally published March 31, 2014
Grieve, A Modern Herbal (©1931)
Tierra, The Way of Herbs (©1980)