Dill is used in various parts of the world but is known mainly for being widely used in Asia and European countries. The main uses of dill are for spicing and flavoring food, and both the leaves and seeds are used. However, this all begs the question, “Is dill an herb, or a vegetable?”
Though we can call dill a vegetable, as it is in the same family as celery, it is more commonly categorized as an herb. It is chiefly prevalent in European and Asian dishes. As well as having culinary uses, the plant has been used in treating digestive issues, bad breath, and colic in infants.
Dill is also sometimes known as “dill weed” and is a plant with slender stems and soft leaves. The leaves tend to taste sweet and almost have a grassy flavor. The seeds which are also edible have a more aromatic flavor.
The Origin And Characteristics Of Dill
Dill is an annual herb that is part of the same family as celery, Apiaceae. As mentioned, it is widely grown throughout Eurasia. Dill has various names; in Tamil, it is called Sathakuppai, and in Hindi, it is known as Suva Bhaji. The word dill is found in many Germanic languages, but its origin is unclear.
It is believed that the word dill is derived from the old Norse word Dylla, which means “to soothe”. The historical records of the plant date back as far as 3000 B. C. when Egyptians made mention of it in medical texts.
The plant has also been found in the tomb of Amenhotep II, an Egyptian Pharoah, dating back to approximately 1400 B. C. It was also found in the Greek city of Samos in the 7th century B. C.
Fresh dill has a strong flavor and a dark sea-green color. It grows between 8 and 30 inches tall, and it is characterized by its fern-like leaves and the accompanying yellow flowers.
The citrusy flavor of the leaves and seeds, in particular, makes it an excellent condiment for things such as salad dressing and also as a flavoring agent for various dishes.
How To Grow Dill
If you want to have these fresh herbs on hand whenever you’d like, it pays to grow them yourself. This will make a fantastic addition to your existing herb garden or could be the reason you decide to start a garden full of herbs for cooking.
You will find that dill tends to grow in bunches, and in the wild, it has the appearance of being thin, wiry, long grass. The plant is native to West Africa, Russia, and the Mediterranean. What is fantastic about dill is that you can grow it quite easily in your own herb garden. It tends to grow well both inside and outside.
If you want to grow dill for yourself, and you happen to grow it indoors, be sure that it gets plenty of sunlight. Thankfully you will not have to wait too long for your dill to grow, as it generally takes eight weeks to grow to full maturity.
Dill tends to replant by itself and spreads widely, so be aware of this if you are planting it. Dill is usually grown in spring and summer, but it can be available year-round when grown in greenhouses. The dill plant does well in most environments, with the right care.
Best Ways To Store Dill
If you have not used all your dill in one go and want to store it away for later use, it is a good idea to wash, pat it dry, place it in a zip-top plastic bag, and put it in the refrigerator. You can then use it within a day or two.
If you don’t intend to use it in the next few days, freeze it to help preserve it for longer: I just wrap it in cellophane or place it in a freezer-safe plastic bag. Frozen dill will keep up to a year.
You can also dry dill: just keep it in an airtight glass container and store it in a cool dry place. Use your dried dill within a year. Dried dill does not retain as much of its flavor as fresh dill does, so you may need to add more to have the same results when preparing your food.
Ways To Incorporate Dill Into Your Diet
Dill has an intensely aromatic fragrance and is often said to have a citrusy taste to it. This herb enriches the flavor of dishes and helps to add nutrients that offer significant health benefits. Some ways to use dill are adding it to a green salad, putting it in soups and sauces, sprinkling it on cold soups, and using it among pickling ingredients.
You can also use dill to add flavor to dips, potato salads, marinades, and chicken. Dill seeds can be used either whole or crushed, and you can mix them in when making bread and vegetable dishes. Salmon is also a typical dish that dill is paired with, and you will be surprised that you can also use it in yogurt-based sauces.
Add fresh dill sprigs to just about any food for a little extra flavor. It also has many health benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels. But we’ll talk about this more in a bit.
To get the best out of dill, use it fresh because it tends to rapidly lose its flavor once it dries. However, when it comes to storing, which we’ll get to shortly, dill can be freeze-dried, in which case it can preserve its flavor for months.
So we know that dill is a beautiful flavoring we can add to dishes, and here are some means of incorporating it:
- Sprinkle it on top of cold salads
- Use it to garnish soups and roasted vegetable dishes
- Chop up the dill and use it as a staple in a salad
- Add it to baked bread
- Add it to store-bought or homemade sauces
- add to egg, fish, or lamb recipes
Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use dill:
Health Benefits Of Dill
As thin and slender as they are, fresh dill sprigs are filled with tremendous amounts of nutrients, including Vitamin A, C, D, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, and dietary fiber. The benefits of consuming dill include:
- protects cells against free radicals
- promotes healthy vision
- helps to improve immune functionality
- aids in proper digestion
- helps prevent sleep problems
- aids against respiratory infections
- protects one against cancer and heart disease
- improves bone health
It is also believed to help treat Type 2 diabetes and that it can also help prevent diabetes from even happening in the first place. It also pairs well with fish and eggs, which are a recommended part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes.
For heart health, dill is packed with flavonoids. These have been shown to help reduce your chances of heart attack or stroke. And some research with animals has shown that it could help lower LCL cholesterol levels. We don’t yet have proof that it will have the same effect on humans, but it can’t hurt to give it a try, since it tastes great and has so many other benefits anyway.
As you can see, using dill in cooking provides great taste but also improves your health. The more fresh vegetables and herbs you can add to your diet, the better. The compounds in dill can contribute to a healthy daily intake and that gives you a reason to feel good about making a dish with dill.
Is Dill An Herb? Conclusion
Dill is an interesting herb indeed, and not only does it offer a unique taste, but it also is a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants that our bodies desperately need. It must be noted, though, that although there are health benefits to consuming dill, most studies have looked at the benefits of dill extracts.
Regardless of this, it is undoubtedly worth incorporating the leaves and seeds into your diet. Thankfully it is highly versatile and can be used in various exciting manners to create wonderfully colorful dishes. So we hope we’ve answered the question and given you a little more on which to chew.
How will you use some dill herb today?
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project.