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Friday, September 4, 2015

Dill

 

Dill:

About:

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an annual herb in the celery family.   Fresh dill has tiny feathery, bright green leaves, a tangy aroma, and a flavor that is more delicate and less pungent than dill seed.  Dill is unique in that both its leaves and seeds are used in seasoning.  Dill leaves are wispy and fern like and have a soft sweet taste.  Dried dill seeds are light brown and oval in shape with one flat side and one convex ridged side.  The seeds are similar in taste to caraway with a flavor that is aromatic, sweet, and citrusy, but also slightly bitter. 

History:

Dill's name comes from the old Norse wo0rd "dilla" which means "to lull".  This name reflects dill's traditional uses as both a carminative stomach soother, and an insomnia reliever.   Dill is native to Southern Russia, western Africa, and the Mediterranean region.  It has been used for its culinary and medicinal properties for millenia.  Dill was mentioned in the Bible and Egyptian writings.  It was popular in ancient Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties.  Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine in a recipe to clean out the mouth.  Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to promote healing.  Today dill is a noted herb in the cuisines of Scandinavia, Central Europe, North Africa and the Russian Federation.

Uses:

Fresh dill leaves are excellent snipped into cucumber salad, chicken salad, potato salad, and deviled eggs.  Scatter snipped sprigs over sliced tomatoes or tossed with boiled new potatoes.  Use dill in marinades, and sauces, as a seasoning for fish and in omelette's.  Along with dill seed the leaves are a primary ingredient in pickles. 

Health Benefits:

Dill's unique health benefits come from 2 types of healing components: monoterpenes and flavonoids.  The activities of dill'[s volatile oils qualify it as a "chemo protective" food (much like parsley) that can neutralize particular types of carcinogens.  The volatile oils also prevent bacterial overgrowth.  Dill is a very good source of calcium, which is important for reducing bone loss.  Dill is also a good source of dietary fiber, and a good source of the minerals manganese, iron, and magnesium. 

Season:

Dill is available year round.  It is grown throughout the year, and in hothouses.

Selecting and Storing:

Dill is usually sold cut and bundled.  The feathery leaves should be bright green and sprightly, not dark or wet.  Fresh dill will keep a day or two , if it is kept dry (unwashed) in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator.

So..... Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

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