Scientifically known as Aethum Graveolens, it is commonly referred to as a weed and for a very good reason. Once planted, you will never have to plant it again. Fresh Dill is related to carrots, parsley, fennel, celery, parsnip and coriander. This group of herbs provides the perfect flavouring to food than any other plant. So what started off as a weed has ended up on our most savoury dishes.
Extensively used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, remnants of the herb were found in Swiss Neolithic settlements dating back to 400BC. In medieval times, its use had already spread to central Europe. Due to its popularity as a culinary herb, it was used in Greece, Scandinavia, Germany, Central Europe, Russia, the Balkans and Romania.
Dill is characteristic with light green feathery thread-like leaves. It resembles fennel but only reaching about 8 centimetres in height. It is propagated from seed that grows well in almost any well drained soil. It thrives in warm areas of the garden away from open areas that become windblown. Growing guidelines:
Fresh dill likes full sun rather than partial shade. The herb does not transplant well. Each plant has a single stem. It will self-sow if the seedpods are not harvested.
Flowering facts: Flowers are very small in clusters atop stems of the herb plant.
Harvesting tips: Dill leaves can be frozen for later use as they still remain fresh after they thaw. The seeds are very tiny and once dried, can be used as a condiment like pepper. The seed is also the primary source of dill oil. When the leaves are dried they are sold as dill weed. The plants leaves are at the peak of flavor when the flowers are just opening. Use the fresh leaves as soon as you have clipped them.
Flavor: The leaves have a distinctive flavor similar to parsley and fennel. Dried form of the herb’s leaves lack the vibrant flavor which is given off by the fresh leaves.