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Native to Southern Europe and Western Asia, dill is a popular herb used for both its seeds and feathery leaves. Originally a wild plant, dill is part of the same family as celery and parsley. Resembling and tasting like fennel, remnants have been found as far back as 400 B.C. in stone age settlements in Switzerland.
Best known for pickling cucumbers, dill is often used in sour tasting dishes, such as sauerkraut. Since heat can affect the flavor, fresh dill is usually added to recipes just before serving. Extremely versatile, dill can be used to enhance lamb, shrimp, pork, chicken, potatoes and zucchini, sauces, sour cream, soups, salad and casseroles; this distinct herb also pairs well with lemon in sauces for fish. In Greece, dill is mixed with yogurt and cucumbers to make delicious tzatziki sauce. While the tiny seeds taste somewhat bitter, fresh leaves are tangy and taste more robust than dried leaves, known as dill weed.
Dill seeds can be ground to make essential oils used for soothing muscle and intestinal spasms, fighting skin infections, getting rid of lice, and as a natural antibiotic for the intestines. Dill’s antimicrobial properties can prevent mouth infections and gum disease, and can freshen the breath! An excellent source of fiber, vitamins C, B9 and B2, E, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, protein, iron and calcium, dill’s antioxidant properties may reduce risk of cancer, improve gastrointestinal problems and prevent excessive gas.
A useful addition to your garden, plant your St. Clare Heirloom dill seeds in early summer in full sun; dill is an annual, self-seeding plant that will attract beneficial insects, such as beetles and wasps. The best time to harvest the leaves are when the flowers are just opening, and for peak flavor, use leaves as needed.
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