Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Dill is a unique perennial herb with a pleasant anise-like flavour. Its leaves and seeds are employed as seasoning in various cuisines worldwide. Dill is the member of the Umbelliferae family, a large group of flowering herbs and spices that also includes caraway, parsley, cumin and fennel amongst others.
Dill is native to Mediterranean and Eastern-European regions. It requires warm summer climates with well-drained fertile soil to flourish. It grows 1 to 2 feet in height and features dark-green leaves that are wispy and fern-like, have a soft texture with rich pleasant aroma and sweet taste.
Dill seeds, used as condiment spice, are similar in taste and appearance to caraway seeds. They are a light brown colour, oval shape with vertical ridges and flavour that is aromatic, sweet, and citrus, but also slight bitter.
Dill is well known since ancient times. It was used in many traditional medicines, including those intended to help with jaundice, headache, boils, lack of appetite, stomach problems, nausea, liver problems, and many other illnesses. Dill seeds can also be used to prepare herbal tea. Roman gladiators used dill to strengthen muscles by rubbing the plant into their arms and legs. In medieval Europe it was believed that dill protected against curses and witchcraft.
Below are some interesting health benefits associated with Dill which is known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.It contains no cholesterol and is very low in calories. It holds many anti-oxidants, vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, and dietary fibres, which help in controlling blood cholesterol levels. Dill leaves and seeds carry many essential volatile oils such as d-carvone, dillapiol, DHC, eugenol, limonene, terpinene and myristicin.The essential oil, Eugenol in the dill has been in therapeutic usage as local anaesthetic and antiseptic. Eugenol has also been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Dill oil, extracted from dill seeds has anti-spasmodic, carminative, digestive, disinfectant, and sedative properties. Dill is rich in many vital vitamins, including folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, B-carotene, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum metabolism inside the human body.
Dill weed is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
In addition to the above health benefits, Dill is a herb which is used to flavour many foods and dishes such as fish, pickles, salads, dips and soups. Fresh, finely cut dill leaves are used as topping in soups, especially the hot red borsht and the cold borsht , Sopa do Espírito Santo, Kudlanky or Kulajda. Due to its delicate nature most chefs recommend adding the fresh herb to hot recipes just prior to removing from the heat source. Freshly chopped and sautéed dill is a great addition to green salads. Dill is also used in the process of producing pickled cucumbers
Dill is used in fresh, dried or frozen form. Even in its dried or frozen form it retains it’s specific aroma. Dill leaves can be quick frozen for later use. The leaves have a distinctive flavour similar to parsley and fennel. Seeds have a bitter flavour similar to green leaf or caraway. In dried form the leaves lack the vibrant flavour of the fresh alternative. Fresh dill should always be stored in the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp paper towel or with its stems placed in a container of water. Since it is very fragile, even if stored properly, dill will only keep fresh for about two days.
Dill can be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the dill leaves in ice cube trays covered with water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.
Here are some soup recipes with the dill:
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