Dill is native to Southern Russia, western Africa, and the Mediterranean region.  It has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for millennia. The earliest archeological evidence of its cultivation comes from a late Neolithic lake in Switzerland, though traces have been found in Egyptian tombs and Roman ruins. In ancient Greece it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its healing properties. Hippocrates used dill in an oral astringent tincture; ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing. Charlemagne, King of the Francs and later, Emperor of the Romans would serve dill on his banquet tables, for its digestive benefits. Dill is scientifically known as Anethum graveolens and is a perennial plant, part of the Umbelliferae family, whose other members include parsley, cumin and bay. Its name comes from the old Norse word dilla which means "to lull." This name reflects dill's traditional uses as both a stomach soother and an insomnia reliever. Dill’s green leaves are wispy and fernlike, with a soft, sweet taste. Dill flowers are white to yellow and form small umbrella-like heads. Dried dill seeds are light brown ovals, with one flat and one convex side. Dill seed tastes similar to caraway, with an aromatic, sweet, citrusy, and slightly bitter flavour. Dill is known as the star ingredient in dill pickles, cucumbers preserved in salty bring or vinegar. In Romania, it is used for preparing borscht, in Arab countries, dill is used mostly in fish dishes, and in Laos and Thailand, dill is known as Laotian coriander and used in coconut curried fish and prawn dishes. Dill is commonly served with salmon and other smoked fish. Other serving suggestions include:
  • Combine dill weed with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber for a delicious cooling dip.
  • Add dill to your favorite egg salad recipe.
  • Mix together chopped potatoes, green beans, and plain yogurt, then season with both dill seeds and chopped dill weed.
  • Make an orzo pasta salad with feta, tomatoes, and dill
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. Dill is an excellent source of calcium, manganese, iron, fiber, and magnesium. Dill protects against free radicals and carcinogens, is an antibacterial, and prevents bone loss.