Everything You Wanted to Know About Dill Weed and Then Some©by Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery
Dill weed is a really unique perennial herbal plant that we grow at Home Farm Herbery not only for its leaves, but also for its seeds since both are used as a seasoning and then of course we also let some go to seed to share it with our on-line store friends. Dill is a member of the Umbelliferae family, a large group of flowering herbs and spices, which include caraway, parsley, cumin, fennel, etc.
Technically and botanically it belongs within the family of Apiaceae, of the genus: Anethumand scientifically named as Anethum graveolens for all you Latin Lovers and I mean the language.
Dill is a native of the Mediterranean and East European regions and has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Mediterranean and European cuisine since ancient times. The Dill plant requires warm summer climates with well-drained fertile soil to flourish. We gave it a warm sunny spot and amended our Kentucky clay with a lot of gravel. It seems to love it as it grows from 1 to 2 feet in height and features dark-green leaves (sprigs) that are wispy and fern-like, have a soft texture with rich pleasant aroma and sweet taste.
Dill seeds, used as spice, are similar in taste and appearance to caraway seeds and often we make dill rye bread and caraway rye bread. Dill seeds feature light brown color, oval shape with vertical ridges and flavor that is aromatic, sweet, and citrus, but they are also slightly bitter in taste.
There are quite a lot of health benefits to Dill and they include being low in calories and contain no cholesterol while containing contains many anti-oxidants, vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, etc., and dietary fibers, which help to control blood cholesterol levels. Of course dill weed contains numerous plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
It is also rich in many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, ß-carotene, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum metabolism inside the human body.
As a 21 year cancer survivor I am always interested in healthy information and especially the qualities of culinary herbs such as Dill because Vitamin-A and beta carotene are natural flavonoid antioxidants. 100 grams of dill weed sprigs provide 7718 IU or 257% of recommended-daily levels of this vitamin. Vitamin A is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for good eye-sight. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps the human body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
The sprigs of the dill leaves and its seeds contain many essential volatile oils such as d-carvone, dillapiol,
Further research suggests that Dill oil, extracted from dill seeds has anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, and disinfectant, galactagogue (helps breast milk secretion), and sedative properties.
Fresh dill herb is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C. 100 grams contain about 85 mg or 140% of vitamin C. Vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Many users of dill do not know that Dill weed is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc).
The list goes on and on and I wonder why more people are not putting this great little health provider into their diets or at least into their foods.
Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Further research shows that the Dill herb has all the characters to consider it has one of the most valuable functional foods. 100 grams of dill weed provides only 43 calories, but its phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any other high-calorie food source; be it nuts, pulses, cereals, or meat group.
Dill is easy to grow and though we have gotten away from kitchen gardens one can easily grow a pot of it on their patio as long as it is in a sunny location and just remember to water it once in awhile.
At Home Farm we use it to enhance the flavor and taste of vegetables, chicken, fish and meat dishes and we love throwing some into our potato salad in the summer. When we make cucumbers and sliced onions with sour cream we always add some dill
Dill is great to add to sauces and freshly chopped and sautéed dill is a great addition to green salads. Of course everyone knows that Dill seeds are used in pickling.
At Home Farm Herbery when we harvest our Dill seeds we make sure the seeds that are to be used as spice and condiment release pleasant, sweet and slightly peppery flavor when rubbed between index and thumb fingers. That test is a sure sign of good Dill seeds.
When you are using fresh Dill make sure it is washed thoroughly in the water in order to remove sand and dirt and to rid off any residual pesticides. Of course at Home Farm Herbery we do not use any pesticides. However, we still do wash it. We add fresh Dill just before preparing recipes in order to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact.
Yet there is a lot to be said for good, dried Dill weed and we keep a lot of it on hand throughout the winter for our own use and our Home Farm Herbery customers think it is pretty good also.
When you buy fresh Dill make sure you get Dill with vibrant green color sprigs, and firm stems. Avoid Dill with any kind of spoilage/bruises or yellowing. We whole heartily urge you to buy dill that has been grown using organic techniques since this will give you more assurance pesticide free, aromatic, as well as nutritious sprigs.
Once you get your fresh Dill weed home, store in the refrigerator keeping it in a zip pouch or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel and use it as early as possible since it loses flavor and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
If you like Dill flavored chips then take the time to make your own without all those chemicals that may well cause you health problems down the road. Try making your own Dill flavored chips with thinly slice potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes and other kinds of veggies.
Check out our Dill weed at http://www.localharvest.org/dill-weed-C25313
While there you can search for our organic culinary Dill seed and even get our heirloom Dill seeds to plant your own patch of healthy Dill.
May the Creative Force be with you
Posted by Arlene @ 11:58 PM CDT