I ran across Kirby cucumbers in a grocery store in Mesa the other day. It was exciting because that means it’s just about time to begin making dill pickles. While many of us think of dill only for pickles, there are many other uses for it.
If you have ever looked through the spice section of your favorite store, you may have noticed that dill comes in a few varieties…dill weed and dill seed. Then if you go to the produce section of the store, you will see fresh dill sprigs and maybe even dill heads. So how do you know which is best for your recipe?
Dill is both a spice and an herb. Dill seeds are a spice, while dill weed is an herb. For the most part, they are not interchangeable. Dill weed is the flavor you get when you eat a dill pickle. Dill seeds taste more like caraway seeds.
Fresh dill leaves are available all year round. When their feathery leaves are dried, they become dill weed. Dill heads are not as available here in the Phoenix area, but when you can find them, the heads are where dill seeds come from.
Dill seed and weed are widely used in German, Russian, and Scandinavian food. Dill goes well in dishes with sour cream, cream cheese and cottage cheese as well as salmon, eggs and some meat. It’s also great in dips and spreads as well as an all-time favorite, dilled potato salad.
Dill is one of those herbs that loses its flavor when heated, so always add it to cooked dishes at the last minute. However, heating brings out the aroma and flavor of dill seed and often recipes will call for toasting dill seed before using.
Sometimes it’s necessary to substitute one type of dill for another. Here are some ideas on how to substitute. Dill weed is one of those herbs that is best used fresh for the most intense flavor. If you absolutely must use dried dill weed, 1 tablespoon of fresh dill is the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed. You can freeze fresh dill and even though the leaves will not be pretty, the flavor will be much more intense than dried dill weed. If your recipe calls for dill head and you cannot find it, use about 3/4 teaspoon dill seeds for 1 medium sized dill head.
While dill is mostly a culinary herb, it is said to settle your stomach and relieve gas. It’s also supposed to be a good remedy for colicky babies.
Fresh dill weed can be found in any local grocery store in Mesa in the produce department. Occasionally Sprouts will carry dill heads in their produce department. Dill seed is available in your grocery store’s spice section.
Oh yes, back to dill pickles…Simply Impressive will be offering a pickling class on July 14 at 6:30 p.m. The class will hit the calendar in a few days. See www.simplyimpressive.com for more information
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