Dill is the official Herb of the Year for 2010. For information about how the Herb of the Year is decided, the organization (International Herb Association) that hosts the it, and more, scroll down to earlier postings. Also there are links to the International Herb Association, the Herb Society of America and Herbworld.com which all post information about the Herb of the Year in my previous postings, as well.
Dill is a cool season plant. What that means, is it's best planted in very early spring, or even in late fall. In the Midwest, where I live, (Zone 6a-7b) I can plant dill anytime between September and December. Dill will come up and thrive, starting in mid to late March and grow until hot weather hits.
Dill is best planted from seed as it doesn't transplant well. You can find it for sale in little pots in garden centers, but often it's offered so late in the year, what you get is a spindly little plant that goes to seed and dies by about May or June. (For companies we recommend that offer seed and plants, click this link).
Dill seed is easy to start. Simply scatter it in a pot on the patio, or in the garden, anytime in early to mid winter. The dill will know when to come up. You can harvest it repeatedly over a long period. But once the daytime temperatures reach the mid to upper 60s, your dill will bolt, meaning, it will put up seed shoots and go to seed. There's little you can do to prevent that. It wants to set seed for the next season. Gather the ripened, dry seed for use later, or scatter then on the soil for the next crop. Often you will get a crop in late summer that lasts through the first hard freeze, when the dill finally dies. It is an annual, meaning, that plant will not return the next year, although the scattered seed will produce new plants in the next season.
Dill weed, which is the leaves, are easy to harvest and dry. Simply cut lots of leaves and lay them on newspapers out of sunlight, indoors. In about a week the dill will be dried and you can put it in an airtight container to use later.
Tips for seasoning with dill: *Dill seeds have a robust flavor, so use sparingly. *Dill leaves can be dried or frozen. Simply trim off some with scissors as needed. *Dill can be frozen in little zipper plastic bags for up to 6 months. Simply take out what you need and keep the rest frozen until later. *One tablespoon chopped fresh dill equals 1 teaspoon dried dill weed. *One half ounce fresh dill equals about one half cup of leaves.
Here are some recipes for using dill in the coming year. If you have some you'd like to contribute here, I'll be happy to post them with credit to you. Thank you!
Dill Dip (from my book, Easy Dips, Using Herbs)
The flavor of fresh dill gives this a wonderful, summery taste that goes well with chips, crackers or fresh vegetables - especially good with cucumber slices!
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise (like Hellemans)
3 cloves finely chopped garlic (or 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic chives)
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Dash hot pepper sauce
Dash freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Mix ingredients, then cover and chill in refrigerator for a least an hour (overnight is better). Makes 2 1/4 cups.
Dill Seed Crackers (from my book, Easy Homemade Crackers Using Herbs)
Serve these delicious snack crackers with your favorite cheese and slices of crispy, sweet pears.
Dill Seed Crackers
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon sesame seed
1 teaspoon poppy seed
1 teaspoon dill seed
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine butter and flour and mix well. Divide dough into 10 to 12 approximately equal portions on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Flatten each portion into a round cookie shape with your fingers.
Mix seeds and salt together and sprinkle equally over the flattened dough rounds.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool completely on cooling rack then store in airtight container. Makes 10-12 portions.
Pickled Dill Green Beans
These are a good side dish or pickle to serve with turkey , ham or most any kind of sandwiches.
2 lbs. stemmed young and tender green beans
Pack the beans lengthwise in jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom and in each jar add:
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a 1 inch piece of your favorite hot pepper
1 clove garlic
1 small head of dill or 1 1/2 Tablespoon dill seed
Mix together the following in a saucepan:
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Bring to boil, pour over the bean-packed jars, leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Seal jars and process 15 minutes in boiling water bath.
Makes 4 pints.
Dill & Lemon Mayonnaise
This is delicious on any kind of turkey, chicken or ham sandwiches.
1/2 cup light mayonnaise (like Hellemans)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Optional: Dash salt & pepper to taste and 1 or 2 drops tobasco sauce
In small bowl stir mayonnaise, dill, parsley and lemon juice and optional ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with grilled or roasted meats, poultry, seafood or as a delicious dip for vegetables. Makes about 1/2 cup.
To see more of what I grow in the garden (and gardens I visit), visit my garden blog. I post updates weekly: http://jimlongsgarden.blogspot.com.