Whether it’s a potato salad, dill pickles, a creamy yogurt dressing or carrot soup, dill is always a welcome touch as it pairs well with a lot of dishes. It also brings out the flavor in other herbs, which makes it a must-have spice in any herb garden.
If you’re looking to boost the flavor of any meal by adding fresh, sweet and grassy notes to it, then dill is the right herb for you. While we won’t be focusing on dill recipes and cooking with dill in this post, if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a really simple and tasty ranch dip recipe with dill that you can try.
In this guide, you can expect to find everything you need to know about harvesting, drying, freezing and storing fresh dill, so let’s jump right in!
Dill or dill weed as it’s also called is a commonly used herb and spice that’s native to European and Asian cuisines, but can be found everywhere throughout the world.
Dill grows in slender, hollow stems with green feather-like leaves of fennel. Its seeds are brown and flat and have a slight citrus flavor. They are more aromatic than the leaves, although the leaves have a strong flavor and aroma too, especially when they are freshly picked. Dill has a sweet, grassy flavor and can introduce a touch of freshness to each meal you add it to.
Dill is a cool season herb, which means that it thrives in the cooler months of the year. Depending on where you’re growing it, dill can be available year-round, which means you can use it in its freshest, most flavorful form, regardless of the season.
If you’re planning on growing dill in your garden this year, here’s what you’ll need to know so you can harvest, store and use it properly.
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How to Harvest Dill
Harvesting dill is a simple and easy process that can be done continuously throughout the season as the herb grows pretty quickly and can provide you with flavor-packed seeds and leaves that you can use to take any ordinary recipe to the next level.
No matter if you’re an amateur gardener or a seasoned grower, as long as you harvest it properly, you can have a constant supply of fresh dill at your disposal all year long.
Here are the main steps you need to take to harvest dill properly:
- Give it time to grow
Dill grows pretty quickly. Once you plant it, wait about 4-8 weeks of growth or until the dill plants are at least 6" tall. Then identify the largest, outer leaves and prepare to harvest. Take the older leaves first, unless you have an abundance of dill in your garden and would like not to use the older leaves.
- Water the plant before harvesting
Water your dill a day before harvesting to make sure the plants stay hydrated. This will help them recover faster from the trimming and start growing new leaves right away.
- Trim the leaves
Using a pair of scissors, snip the stems of the leaves, right where they meet the growth point on the main stem. You can do this by hand as well, by pinching the stems off, especially if the plant’s stems are young and tender.
- Don’t take too much off the plants
Only take about a quarter to a third of the leaves, to allow new growth to develop for continuous harvests. Cutting too much off the plant can reduce its ability to recover and start growing new leaves fast so you might need to wait a bit more for the next harvest.
When to Harvest Dill
As we mentioned above, while dill grows really fast, it does take about 4-8 weeks to mature enough for harvesting. However, as soon as your dill plant has at least 4-5 leaves, you can go ahead and start harvesting, making sure not to take more than a third of the plant at a time.
Note: If you use fresh dill more often than your plants can provide, consider planting it in larger quantities. You can even have a constant supply of fresh dill all year long if you allow some of the plants to flower, set seed and create a permanent patch of dill in your garden.
Now that we’ve covered everything there is to know about harvesting dill, let’s go over some of the best practices for storing dill both when it comes to short-term and long-term storage so the herb can keep its flavor longer and stay usable for an extended period of time.
How to Store Fresh Dill
Once harvested, dill weed wilts quickly and starts to slowly lose its signature flavor and aroma. However, this shouldn’t be an issue as long as you know how to properly store your freshly-harvested dill.
Here are two simple and easy methods you can use:
Store it in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer:
Wrap the freshly cut and washed leaves loosely in damp kitchen towels and place them in a sealed bag or container. Place the container in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer where the humidity levels are lower than the rest of the refrigerator. Use the herbs within a few days, or until they start to wilt and dry out.
Place it in water:
For this method to work, you’ll need to cut full stems off the herb when harvesting. Once the stems are harvested, place them in a glass of water and cover the top with a plastic bag. Change the water daily. Kept this way, dill leaves can stay fresh for up to a week.
How to Freeze Fresh Dill
If you’ve harvested more dill than you can use right away or within a few days, the best way to store it for long-term use is to simply freeze it. The best and most practical way of freezing dill is to chop it up into smaller pieces, place it in ice-cube trays and add some water – just enough to cover the freshly-minced dill. This way the herbs can last up to 4 months and even longer, so you can always have dill at your disposal whenever a recipe calls for it.
How to Dry Fresh Dill
If you’re looking for another method for long-term storage, drying freshly harvested dill is a commonly used one. While the herb won’t be as flavor-packed as it is when it’s fresh or frozen, it still has a lot of uses. You can use it to make tea all year long, or as an herb in cooked dishes.
To avoid losing a lot of the flavor, stick to hang-drying. This method is quite simple. All you need to do is take a few dill leaves, tie them up together using a string and hand them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Once they’re dry and crumbling, store them in an air-tight container. Though fresh dill is always better, make sure to preserve some of it for later use, especially if you don’t have an indoor spice and herb garden that you can keep all year long.