Just about everyone has heard of dill pickles, but how many of us have experimented with using dill in other ways in the kitchen? If you haven’t tried cooking with dill, you’re selling yourself – and your cooking – short. Here are some tips for getting started with this fresh and flexible herb.
What Is Dill?
Dill is one of the oldest herbs that people have been known to use in cooking. Sprigs of herbs have been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and even in Neolithic settlements. This relative of parsley grows naturally in central Asia and around the Mediterranean Sea, but it can be cultivated anywhere where the summers are hot and it can get plenty of direct sunlight.
Dill can be used in cooking in four different forms: fresh dill leaves, dried dill leaves, dill flowers, and the dill seeds. The fresh leaves have the strongest and most pronounced flavor. The seeds taste similar to caraway and are often used in breads and other baked goods. Both the seeds and the flowers are used to make dill pickles.
How Does Dill Taste?
Dill leaves have a gentle, subtle flavor that can be described as tangy and fresh, but with a musky overtone. Dill leaves compliment other herbs well, making it a great addition to many meals.
Dill seeds have a stronger flavor and a crispy crunch. They have been compared with caraway seeds, and have a citrus tang and a slightly bitter taste.
Does Dill Have Any Health Benefits?
Dill is an excellent source of calcium, and can help to prevent bone deterioration with age. It also relieves stomach aches and is naturally soothing, helping to ease people to sleep. Like garlic, dill is an anti-bacterial spice, and it acts as an antioxidant.
Finally, dill seed makes a good substitute for salt. People with low-sodium diets can benefit from a healthy dose of dill in their foods.
Which Dishes Work Best When Flavored with Dill?
Dill Seeds are often added to potato and egg salads, and are used to make a delicious devilled egg. They can be added to the water while boiling potatoes for mashing to add tang to the dish. Dill seeds can be substituted for caraway seeds to make caraway bread. Dill seeds are also an important ingredient for making dill pickles.
Blend dill with softened butter to create a delicious dip for breads or for seafood. Add fronds of dill to yogurt and serve with raw vegetables for a healthy snack. Dill leaves make a delicious substitute for parsley as a garnish for sandwiches. Toss some fresh leaves shortly before your fish is done cooking for delicious added flavor. Dill fronds also make a savory addition to hamburger meat.
Dried dill can be substituted for fresh dill, but be aware that quite a lot of the herb will be necessary, since it loses a lot of flavor in the drying process.
Dill flowers can be harvested and used as an ingredient for dill pickles.
How Should Dill Be Used in Cooking?
Exposure to heat tends to destroy the delicious flavor of fresh dill leaves. To retain their taste, add them shortly before the end of the cooking process, or chop the leaves and use them fresh in salads.
Dill seeds, on the other hand, can withstand higher temperatures and longer cooking without losing flavor. They can be added to boiling water for flavoring potatoes or tossed into a potato salad to add both crunch and flavor.
Dill is a harmonious herb that, like salt, enhances the flavor of the meals you prepare. Unlike salt, however, dill has a variety of beneficial properties. For people whose health conditions restrict them to a low-sodium diet or who simply want to improve their overall diet, dill is an excellent addition to their cooking abilities.