The days are getting shorter, and definitely cooler. This is the time of year where I start deciding how to preserve my garden produce before it gets killed by the frost. I have had to cover my tomatoes a few nights last week and this week already. Summer is great, when I can go out to my garden and pick herbs to my heart’s content. I have fresh herbs any time I want. But sadly , the days of fresh garden herbs are just about over.
This blog post is all about dill. I always plant some dill in a sunny spot in my garden. It is super easy to grow. All it needs is sunlight and water. I put in in amongst my tomatoes and sun-loving flowers, and it always grows just fine. And I love the smell of fresh dill, don’t you?
There are two parts of the plants that we use in cooking: the dill weed, which is the green fronds that are the whole plant when it is young, and the seeds, which are carried in the seed heads that develop as the plant matures. I love using dill weed on fish, combining it with other fresh herbs to toss into rice or other grains, with new potatoes, and using it in salad dressings and dips. And tzatziki sauce! Dill seeds and seeds heads are used for pickling, and some soups, like my Borscht. Or try it on my easy, oven baked Dilled Salmon.
Luckily, if you have lots of dill in your garden you can easily preserve it so that you have “almost like fresh” herbs to use all winter. It really is a great taste when you get fresh anything in the middle of winter – at least here in the Canadian prairies! So, here is how you preserve your dill over the winter:
On a mature dill plant, the dill weed grows in little clumps all along the stem. The seed heads are at the top. Pick off all the dill weed and put into a bowl.
- Wash the dill, and let dry in a colander. At this point you have two choices: you can either freeze it, or dry it in the microwave on a plate.
- I have always frozen mine – it is super easy, just pack clean, dry dill weed into a plastic bag and put it in the freezer. Cut it while frozen, and sprinkle on foods at the last minute just before serving. Couldn’t be easier!
- However, my neighbor always dries hers, and she showed me how green it looks and how fresh it smells even after being dried. So, OK, I decided to try it for myself. Here is what you do:
Feel it again. Keep doing this (30 seconds on high) until it feels dry to the touch. I was worried at first, because it smelled like I was cooking the dill. Plus, it fogged up the window of my microwave. but, once it was dry, it was quite obvious by the feel of it – and it didn’t turn brown like I was afraid it might. I had quite a bit of dill on the plate, which explains why it took about 3 minutes total to dry mine out. It flattened out, and sort of stick together. Steve said it looked like a dill doily lol!
- And, it smells so much fresher! I think this is my new favorite method. And it doesn’t take up any room in my freezer, always a plus since I have a small freezer.
- Keep a few mature seed heads for next year’s planting, and even more if you plan on doing any pickling or making relishes, etc. The seeds are ripe when they look brown and dried. Shake or pick them off and put into a brown paper bag or a sealer jar. Or you can keep the whole seed head – it is up to you. Store mature seeds in a cool dark place over the winter (on a shelf in the basement, or in the fridge).
- Throw a couple of green (immature) seed heads in a bag and put it in the freezer if you plan to make borscht.