Dill - anethum graveolens
Dill is favoured in the kitchen for its leaves and seeds. The leaves and seeds have a similar flavour that varies in intensity so the two can be used interchangeably if necessary. Dill seeds and leaves (weed) are often seen in jars of dill pickles but dill has many other uses as well.
Anethum graveolens L.
Other names:Dill seed, dill weed, garden dill
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a fennellike annual or biennial herb of the parsley family. Native to Mediterranean countries and southeastern Europe, dill is now widely cultivated in Europe, India, and North America. The name dill comes from an Old Norse word, dilla, meaning "lull" since they used it to quiet crying babies. Dill was widely used in Greek and Roman times. In the Middle Ages it was thought to have magical properties and was used in witchcraft, love potions and as an aphrodisiac. The whole plant is aromatic. The young leaves and the fully developed green fruit are used for flavoring purposes.
Native to Southern Europe and Western Asia, dill grows wild in Spain, Portugal and Italy. It is now cultivated in India, Germany, Rumania, and England and to some extent in North and South America as a commercial crop.
Dill is an annual herb of parsley family, 45-75 cm in height, with finely feathered blue-green fern-like leaves and hollow stems. It produces small open umbels of creamy-yellow flowers in summer followed by dark brown seeds. The fruit, or seed, is broadly oval in shape, about 0.14 inch (3.5 mm) long, with three longitudinal dorsal ridges and two wing-like lateral ridges.
The seeds should be planted in rows at the rate of 15 to 20 to the foot either late in fall or early in spring and thinned to 3 or 4 plants per foot. If dill is planted along the north side of the garden, the shading of smaller plants will be avoided. Germination takes place in 10 days to 2 weeks if seeds are sown in spring; fall-sown seeds do not germinate until early in spring. In good soil the plants will grow 3 to 4 feet in height, and only light cultivation is necessary to control weeds. The fruiting umbels are ready to harvest for seasoning when the fruit is fully developed but not yet brown. The seed is the ripe fruit of the plant, actually formed by two united carpels. The leaves are used only in the fresh state, but the fruiting tops may be used either fresh or dried. A few plants should be justify to mature seed for planting. The umbels may be dried on screens in the shade and stored in closed containers for winter use, but the leaves lose their pleasing flavor when dried.
Dill seed contains 2 - 5% volatile oil. Its main constituent is carvone and the other components are d-limonene and phellandrene. A recent study also found eugenol and vanillin present in the seed. Dill weed or leaves contains 0.3 - 1.5% volatile oil, the chief constituent also being carvone.
The leaves (or dill weed) have a delicate flavour that is faintly sweet, sour and bitter and reminds one of very mild caraway. Leaves are best used in mild tasting dishes. The seed is more pronounced in its taste and is best used in dishes where a stronger response to the food is required.
Dill is used as a condiment and flavouring and as a pickling spice. It is used to season foods, particularly in eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The entire plant is aromatic, and the small stems and immature umbels are used for flavouring soups, salads, sauces, fish, sandwich fillings, and particularly pickles. The leaves freshly chopped may be used alone or in dill butter for broiled or fried meats and fish, in sandwiches, in fish sauces, and in creamed or fricasseed chicken. The major commercial use of dill is in the form of dillweed oil, used in the pickle industry. Dill has a warm, slightly sharp flavour somewhat reminiscent of caraway.
The whole seeds and the seed oil have carminative properties and have been used in treating flatulent colic. Often taken as 'dill water' to relieve digestive problems and flatulence. It is used widely to cure insomnia and hiccups. Occasionally dill is used to perfume cosmetics. A medicinal oil is distilled from leaves, stems and seeds.
Indian Institute of Spices Research, India
Dill weed loses its flavour in cooking so add towards the end. Dill weed is very mild, particularly when dried, so use generously. The seeds are tiny, flat and oval. Add 2 tablespoons of dill seeds to a cup and a half of white vinegar in a jar. Cover. Let stand 3 weeks. Strain and use in salad dressings and sauces.
King's American Dispensatory.
by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D., 1898.
The Anethum graveolens, Linné. (Peucedanum graveolens, Hiern.)
Botanical Source.—This plant is an annual, bearing large yellow flowers, disposed in flat umbels. It reaches a height of from 1 to 2 feet, and has delicately striated stems, bearing pinnate leaves composed of long, setaceous leaflets. The whole plant is glaucous. The root is long and fusiform.
History.—This plant is indigenous to Southern Russia and other Mediterranean regions; also to the Caucasian territories. It is cultivated in Europe, thriving as far north as the Scandinavian peninsula. It occurs in some sections as a common weed in cornfields. It is cultivated to a very limited extent in this country. It is scarcely used here as a medicine, but enjoys considerable reputation in, England, where it holds a place in the British Pharmacopoeia. It is said to have been known to Dioscorides, and is now regarded as the plant mentioned in the Scriptures (Matt., ch. xxiii, v. 23).
Description.—ANETHI FRUCTUS. Dill-fruit. The seeds are oval or ovoid, seldom longer than 1/5 inch, convex or flattish on one side, concave on the dorsum, which is striated or marked with piliform ridges 5 in number, the two outer ribs becoming blended with the thin, membranaceous margin surrounding the fruit. The 3 central or dorsal ridges are sharply keeled. Six vittae (oil cells), are usually present, 4 between the ribs and 2 on the commissure. The mericarps separate when mature, are about 1/10 inch in width, and of a brown color. The membranous marginal wings are of a yellowish color. The fruit has a strongly aromatic odor and taste. The fruit grown in India is smaller, not so broad, more prominently ribbed, more convex, and the margin less winged. Otherwise it resembles the above described European fruit.
Chemical Composition.—Dill-fruit yields a volatile oil to which its properties are probably due. This oil is obtained to the extent of 3 or 4 per cent, and was found by Gladstone to consist mainly of anethene (C10H16), a hydrocarbon having the odor of lemons, strongly dextrogyre, with boiling point at 172° C. (341.6° F.), and density of 0 846. Two other bodies have also been found (see Oleum Anethi).
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Carminative and stomachic, and used in the preparation of dill-water. The natives of India use the fruit largely in medicine and cookery. Flatulent colic and singultus, when due to disordered digestion, are relieved by the administration of dill-water or the oil of dill; the former in 1 or 2-drachm doses, the latter in from 2 to 5-drop doses on sugar. It possesses no advantages over the other aromatic seeds.