Smith: Dill is a versatile, useful ingredient | Food and Cooking

The thought of fresh dill is a reminder of dill pickles for many. With dill’s unique flavor, people either embrace it or turn up their nose. For those who embrace it, dill is a versatile and useful ingredient in the kitchen with many culinary uses besides pickling.

Dill can serve as both an herb (dill weed) and a spice (dill seed). Dill weed is a beautiful green feathery garnish with a noticeable aroma. It will lose it’s flavor quickly when introduced to heat, and therefore, should be added to the last minute of cooking, or used in cold dishes, such as deviled eggs or cold salads. My favorite way to use fresh dill is in Greek tzatziki sauce made with cucumbers, yogurt, garlic and dill. It makes for a wonderful dipping sauce for raw veggies or pita chips, or as a topping for gyros or falafel. Dill seed packs even more flavor than dill weed and can withstand long cooking times. Use dill seeds whole or crushed in pickles, fish or seafood dishes, bread or soups.

Store fresh dill wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Just before use, wash it under running water and pat dry with a paper towel before using. Use a chef’s knife to chop dill leaves to release the most flavor and aroma. Freeze chopped dill weed in ice cube trays covered with water or simply freeze dill sprigs in freezer bags. Dry the leaves or seeds in a dehydrator, microwave or air-dry. Store dried dill and dill seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark location for up to one year. Just like most fresh herbs, dill is full of important nutrients; however, because it’s used in small quantities, the amount of nutrients you actually get is considerably less. Nevertheless, fresh dill packs flavor without packing the sodium and that’s a win-win!

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