Dill is the only plant of its kind, where both the leaves and seeds are used as a spice. Dill has green leaves, which are tiny, similar to ferns and have a soft, sweet taste. Dried dill seeds are light brown in color and have an oval shape. The seeds are similar in taste to cumin, they are aromatic and sweet, but with a slight hint of bitterness.
Dill is part of the Apiaceae family, whose members also include parsley, cumin and bay leaf.
The origins of its name come from the old Norwegian word "dilla", which means "to relieve". This name illustrates the traditional use of dill, both as a way to relieve stomach gas and as mitigation against insomnia.
Origins of dill
Dill originates from south Russia, west Africa and the Mediterranean region. It has been used for its culinary and healing properties for thousands of years. Dill is even mentioned in the Bible and ancient Egyptian writings. The herb was popular both in ancient Greek and Roman culture, where it was seen as a sign of wealth and worshipped for its many healing properties. Dill was used way back by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth.
Today, dill is a significant spice in the culinary arts of Scandinavia, central Europe, north Africa and Russia.
Composition of dill
Dill seeds are a wonderful source of calcium and minerals, manganese and iron. Dill contains 2 unique medicinal components: monoterpenes, including carvone, lemon and anetofuran and flavonoids, including kaempferol. 2/5 tsp of dill contain 5.06 calories and 0.40 grams of protein.
Selection and storage of dill
Whenever possible, always choose fresh dill instead of its dried version, since it has better fragrance and taste. Dill leaves that look loose and green are of higher quality.
Fresh dill must always be stored in a refrigerator or wrapped in a wet towel or with its stems placed in water. Since it is very fragile, even when stored correctly, dill will only remain fresh for about 2 days.
Another option is to lightly spray the dill stems with water, then wrap them loosely in a paper towel and seal them in a plastic container or bag, which is placed in the refrigerator. This way, the dill will remain fresh for a week or longer.
You may also trim the stems and place them in a cup of cold water, lightly wrap the dill sprigs with a moist paper towel, and then cover the top with a plastic bag. In this fashion, the dill will be ready for storage in the fridge and will not absorb any of the aromas of surrounding ingredients.
Dill can also be stored frozen, whole or sliced, in an airtight container. The well washed and shaken dill is placed upright in a nylon bag with a zipper and is ready to be frozen. Fresh dill can be frozen for up to 2 months but its green color will darken afterwards. It is not necessary to thaw the dill stems before use.
Dried dill seeds must be stored in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry and dark place, where they will retain their freshness for about 6 months.
Culinary uses of dill
As it became clear from the introductory sentence, all parts of the dill plant are used. When fresh, the finely chopped delicate stems are an irreplaceable addition to many spring dishes. Dill is extremely suitable for flavoring tarator, soup, green salads, cottage cheese, feta cheese, fish, sauces, boiled mutton or beef.
The taste of dill goes well with all kinds of potato dishes - toasted, fried or boiled. Peas, green beans and mushrooms also achieve a profound fresh taste thanks to dill.
A crucial detail when using dill is that it must not be boiled along with the dish, so that it doesn't lose its wonderful aroma. Dill complements superbly with lemon, onions, garlic and black pepper.
The flowers of dill are used in pickled foods, pickles, canned fish and various marinades. They can even be used to season sauerkraut wraps.
An interesting fact is that dill is to Swedish cuisine what paprika is to others - an incredibly honored and widely used spice. In Moldovan and Russian cuisine, it is a favorite aromatizer for salads, soups and different meat dishes.
Benefits of dill
The unique benefits to our health come from the 2 healing components of dill, which it contains, monoterpenes and flavonoids:
- Protection against free radicals and carcinogens. It is proven that monoterpenes activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps the antioxidant molecule glutathione to oxidate molecules, which would otherwise harm the body. The volatile oils contained in dill can help neutralize certain types of carcinogens.
- Dill has antibacterial properties;
- It helps prevent bone loss. As an excellent source of calcium, dill plays an important role in reducing bone loss, which occurs after menopause and in some diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- It increases the flow of milk during breastfeeding. Furthermore, it is useful against nausea, aids in vasodilation and works as a painkiller. Infusions of dill or its seeds dilate the blood vessels, reduce high blood pressure, relax intestinal muscles.
Dangers of dill
Consumption of dill is not recommended for people suffering from acute inflammation of the intestines and stomach, because it increases acidity.