Health Benefits of Dill, Attracting Butterflies & Saving Seed
Dill is a lovely, airy herb.
This spring, I dreamed of all the pickles we could make. Before we knew it, most of the plants bolted into flower – beautiful yellow bursts – a bit like fireworks.
As the flowers faded away, seeds began to appear. They started off fresh and greenish. I have heard of people cutting off the entire flower head to throw in their pickle jar. The fronds and seed heads added so much to the overall flavor of my lacto-fermented pickles and was a beautiful touch!
As the seed heads began to dry and turn brown, they start looking like actual dill seed. Taste-wise, they can be compared to caraway. They are in the same family and even look kind of similar, although dill seeds seem to be more flattened.
Once they were mostly dry, we cut off a bunch of the seed clusters and put them in a paper bag to finish the drying process. There were still plenty of seeds left to drop into the pots and reseed for the next year. The supply seemed never ending.
Dill is probably one of the easiest herb seeds to harvest.
To harvest the seeds, cut the flower stalks on a sunny, dry day just as the seeds begin to ripen and turn a tan color. Hang the stalks upside down in a warm, well ventilated room away from direct light.
Place a small paper (not plastic) bag up around the flower heads, fastened to the stalks. Poke a few holes in the sides of the bag for air circulation. As the seeds ripen, they will drop and collect on the bottom of the bag.
Seeds must be very dry before they are stored; if any signs of moisture appear in the container shortly after storage, remove the seeds and dry them further.
For dill pickles, a whole flower head and leafy fronds are often placed in each jar with the pickled vegetables. It makes a very pretty picture in the jar alongside the pickle wedges or chunks. The head should still be green and flexible; the seeds do not need to be fully mature.
Green dill foliage can be harvested anytime during the growing season. Because dill loses its flavor quickly, it is best to use it fresh as soon after picking as possible. Dill foliage can be dried on a paper towel or hung up out of direct sunlight. It is usually the case that you will need more dried herb to achieve your flavor than fresh herb.
Dill’s Six Health Benefits:
- It has been shown to help diabetics regulate insulin levels.
- It contains anti-bacterial properties; fights infections internally and externally.
- It improves digestion. It may help to manage acid reflux. It also soothes upset stomach, prevents diarrhea, and reduces the amount of gas produced in the intestines.
- It is a traditional remedy for hiccups. It is said that mixing a spoonful of fresh dill into boiling water, straining the water, and then drinking the liquid will get rid of hiccups. Some people say that just drinking a few ounces of dill pickle juice will do the trick.
- It has been used as a headache remedy since ancient times. Use the same method for treating hiccups.
- The essential oils may have a calming effect on the body and can help fight insomnia. Since ancient times, dill was made into a tea or the seeds were chewed for their calming effect.
This lovely herb in home gardens rarely has pest or disease problems, but black swallowtail butterfly larvae depend on it as a food source. If they show up in your garden, you can concentrate the caterpillars on a few plants, and reap a double bounty — the herb and butterflies!
We were so mesmerized by this ravenous, chubby garden guest that we brought him inside and caught the precise movements of the his repast up close on video.
But now, his nap is making me sleepy…
“Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.” ~Isaiah 28: 27 (ESV)
Thanks for reading!