Dill: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 09.13 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
One of the best smelling cooking plants has got to be dill. The heady aroma that’s released the moment you throw a few dill sprigs into a frying pan with a piece of fresh salmon is guaranteed to be memorable. A favourite of Scandinavian, Polish and Russian cooking – dill adds great flavour to fish, chicken, soups, bread and dips. Dill is packed with monoterpenes and flavonoids meaning it aids with digestion and breaking down harmful substances in the body. It’s also a great source of Vitamins A, C and B6 as well as a bunch of other minerals.
You can harvest dill as soon as the feathery fan-like leaves develop – this is usually after about 8 weeks. Use a pair of scissors or secateurs to harvest the dill and snip off sections in usable sprigs. When harvesting ensure that you make clean cuts because any damage to the leaves can speed up the process of decay when you store your dill in the refrigerator or freezer. Harvesting your plant regularly will help it produce dill leaves more frequently and will stop it from growing tall and leggy and becoming unmanageable.
The biggest sign that dill is fresh is its smell. So long as it has that powerful and characteristic aroma chances are it’s fresh. If the dill smells good, check to see if it has a rich green colouration. Sprigs of dill that are not aromatic and that are brown, hard or speckled are past their use by date and will be lacking punch and flavour.
Fresh dill won’t last long at room temperature, so pick it as you need it and use it immediately. If you’ve harvested more dill than you can use, you can store it in the refrigerator by wrapping it in a damp towel. Stored this way it should last up to 2 weeks. For longer term storage, freezing is your best bet. You can either freeze the dill in an airtight ziplock bag or freeze each sprig with water in an icecube tray for easy to use “instant” dill that you can add directly to any dish straight from the freezer. Frozen dill is best used within 6 months.
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