Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Dill / Dild - a useful and pretty spice herb

Anethum graveolens

Dill is an annual herb in the celery family apiaceae, and it is the only species in the genus Anethum. Dill is widely grown in Eurasia where its leaves and seeds are used as a herb or spice for flavouring food. Dill is related to fennel and parsley and its leaves are very similar to fennel. The Danish name Dild comes from a Nordic word meaning pjalt (rag), which might indicate that the plant has a Nordic relation from origin, contrarily to all other spice- and kitchen herbs.

Dill originates from Central Asia and the plant grows wild in the Middle East. It was known in ancient Egypt, and from here it spread to Greece, Rome and the rest of Europe. Today dill is first of all used in northern, middle and eastern Europe while it used to a minimum in the Mediterranean.

Dill grows up to 40–60 cm with slender hollow stems and alternate, finely divided, softly delicate leaves.  The flowers are white to yellow, in small umbels. Fresh and dried dill leaves (sometimes called "dill weed" to distinguish it from dill seed) are widely used as herbs in Europe and Central Asia.


Dill is a commonly cultivated spice herb and medical plant. It is a magnificent  culinary spice and also used in tea. The young fresh leaves are used in salads and fish dishes and as a ganiture. Later in summer the ripe dill umbels are used as a spice in fx cucumber pickling. Like caraway, the fernlike leaves of dill are aromatic and are used to flavor many foods such as gravlax (cured salmon) and other fish dishes, borscht and other soups, as well as pickles. Dill is best when used fresh as it loses its flavour rapidly if dried; however, freeze-dried dill leaves retain their flavor relatively well for a few months.

Dill seeds, having a flavor similar to caraway but also resembling that of fresh or dried dill weed, is used as a spice. Dill oil  is extracted from the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant. The oil from the seeds is distilled and used in the manufacturing of soaps.

In central and eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Baltic states, Russia and Finland dill is a popular culinary herb, used in the kitchen along with chives or parsley. Fresh, finely cut dill leaves are used as topping in soups, especially the hot red borscht and the cold borsht mixed with curds, kefir, yoghurt, or sour cream, which is served during hot summer weather and is called okroshka. It is also popular in summer to drink fermented milk (curds, kefir, yoghurt, or buttermilk) mixed with dill (and sometimes other herbs).In Scandinavia dill is a common spice/kitchen herb.

In the same way, prepared dill is used as a topping for boiled potatoes covered with fresh butter – especially in summer when there are so-called "new", or young, potatoes. The dill leaves can be mixed with butter, making a dill butter, which can serve the same purpose.

The etheric oil is used in the perfume industry and in some liqueors.

Folk Medicine

Dill was recommended for breastfeeding women, since it stimulates the milch production and secures that the baby will get a better sleep. Dill seeds were often used as a laxative, and dill-water was drunk against nausea, acid reflux, flatulence and other stomach trouble. Henrik Smid warns against the use of dill since it makes people lazy and incapable of sex.  If the flower umbels were hung up by the bed they worked somnolent. Dill in oil was said to be effective against ear ache - and it was recommended as the best means against hickups. The etheric oil has a driving and calming effect. Abscesses from the plague were rubbed with dill.

Dill Snaps

The dill seeds were written in the pharmacopoeia in 1772.

Medicine for livestock:
Dill was used as a prevention against rinderpest. Calves with tympania were given dill-tea. Dill was also used in diseases of the horse.

A young girl should wear dill, when walking in the woods. At her wedding the bride should have dill seeds in her shoes, and the groom should have dill seeds in his pocket. This would make a happy wedding. Valborg-evening 30/4 or Midsummernight 24/6 the cattle was given dill with garlic as a protection against witchcraft. If the dill plant was placed upon the brewing tub the beer was not bewitched. On Christmas night dill and honey were given the cows as a protection against witchcraft. 


Dill has a long history and  is mentioned already ab. 1500 BC in the Egyptian papyrus-rolls . Dill was also used in the Roman Empire and is mentioned here in a collection of recipes Apicius from ca. year 400 BC. The Romans brought the plant with north - later it was also spread with the monks up to Scandinavia.

In Anglo Saxon England, as prescribed in Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England (also called Læceboc, many of whose recipes were borrowed from Greek medicinal texts), dill was used in many traditional medicines, including those against jaundice, headache, boils, lack of appetite, stomach problems, nausea, liver problems, and many other ills. Dill seeds can also be used to prepare herbal tea. In ancient Greece fragrance was made from the leaves of dill. Also, athletes used to spread essence of dill all over their body, as muscle toner.

In 1967 were at the market of Copenhagen sold 1.125.375 bundles of dill.

images from wikipedia 

Source: Klosterurter, Krydderurter i haven, Køkkenurter, Brøndegaard: Folk og flora. 

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