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Other names: Dilly
The earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago when the plant was referred to as a “soothing medicine.”
Dill seeds are often called “meetinghouse seeds” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or kids quiet. The seeds were also chewed in order to freshen the breath and quiet noisy stomachs.
Dill is a hardy annual, a native of the Mediterranean region and Southern Russia. It grows wild among the corn in Spain and Portugal and upon the coast of Italy, but rarely occurs as a cornfield weed in Northern Europe.
Dill as an Herb for Medicinal Use
The medicinal part is the seed, the fresh or dried leaves and the upper stem. Dill has an aromatic scent.
The dill fruit is approved by Commission E for dyspeptic complaints.
Dill is used to treat colic, gas, and indigestion. It is said that sniffing dill can cure hiccups.
Dill was once boiled in water and the liquid drunk to prevent obesity; the seeds have been chewed to curb appetite.
In Ethiopia, the leaves have been eaten together with fennel for headache and gonorrhea.
The juice was once used to treat hemorrhoids.
Indian Medicine: Dill is used for halitosis, worm infestation, complaints of the respiratory tract and syphilis.
Dill tea has been consumed for intestinal gas, abdominal cramps, heartburn, and indigestion.
A warm tea has been used at bedtime to treat insomnia and for minor headache.
A cup of dill tea, or chewing on the seeds, after a meal has been used to sweeten the breath. Halitosis/bad breath has also been treated by chewing on the seeds.
Oil of Dill
Oil of dill is of a pale yellow color, darkening on keeping, with the odor of the fruit and a hot, acrid taste. Oil of dill is also employed for perfuming soaps.
Oil of Dill is used in mixtures, or administered in doses of 5 drops on sugar, but its most common use is in the preparation of Dill Water, which is a common domestic remedy for the flatulence of infants, and useful for children’s medicine generally.
Dill Water for Colic: Steep 1 teaspoon bruised seeds in 1 glass hot water for several hours; strain and sweeten with sugar; give 1 tablespoon for adults and 1 teaspoon for children. Taken after eating.
Steep 2 teaspoons dill seeds in 1 cup water for 10 to 15 minutes; take 3 times daily, 1/2 cup at a time – can also be made with white wine. Infusion can also be drunk cool (refrigerated) by the spoonful for dyspepsia and difficulty in digesting foods such as cucumber and cabbage, etc.
Culinary Uses of Dill
Perhaps the chief culinary use of dill seeds is in pickling cucumbers. They are employed in this way chiefly in Germany where pickled cucumbers are very popular.
- As a sweet herb, dill is used for flavoring soups, sauces, etc., for which purpose the young leaves only are required. The leaves are often added to fish, or mixed with pickled cucumbers to give them a spicy taste.
- Dill vinegar makes a popular household condiment. It is made by soaking the seeds in vinegar for a few days before using.
- The French use dill seeds for flavoring cakes and pastry, as well as for flavoring sauces.
- Unripe and ripe seed heads are used as flavoring for vinegar and pickled cucumbers. Many kitchen uses, notably pickling.
- Dill weed is used to flavor soups and rice dishes.
- Dill weed compliments wild game such as rabbit; mix with mustard for a dilly zing.
- Used extensively in Scandanavian cooking.
- An ingredient in preserved salmon.
- Seeds are used to flavor vermouth. Seeds were also once roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
- Oil is used commercially to flavor pickles, condiments, meat products, chewing gum, and candy.
Old Fashioned Recipes
Dilly Sandwich Filling: Blend dill weed with cream cheese or cottage cheese and a bit of butter (if desired).
Dilly Pickles: 1-1/2 pounds sliced cucumbers, 1 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 peeled garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons dill seeds, 1 sprig dill weed (if available), 1 bay leaf. Combine all ingredients and bring to boil; pour into a sterile jars and let stand in fridge for 2 weeks before serving. *Can also swap cucumbers for green beans.
Dilly Cucumber Salad: Combine 1/3 cup of salad oil and 3 tablespoons of vinegar; stir in 1-1/2 teaspoon snipped dill weed or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed, 1/4 teaspoon each of sugar and salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pour over 1 large peeled cucumber (thinly sliced), then refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Dilly Fish Sauce: 1 cup of plain yogurt, 3 tablespoons minced fresh dillweed, 1-1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard; combine ingredients.
Dill and Collyflower Pickle
From Acetaria, a book about Sallets, 1680, by John Evelyn.
‘Boil the Colly flowers till they fall inpieces; then with some of the stalk and worst of the flower boil it in a part of the liquer till pretty strong. Then being taken off strain it- and when settled, clean it from the bottom. Then with Dill, gross pepper, a pretty quantity of salt, when cold add as much vinegar as will make it sharp and pour all upon the Collyflower.’
To Pickle Cucumbers in Dill
From Recipe Book of Joseph Cooper, Cook to Charles I, 1640.
‘Gather the tops of the ripest dill and cover the bottom of the vessel, and lay a layer of Cucumbers and another of Dill till you have filled the vessel within a handful of the top. Then take as much water as you think will fill the vessel and mix it with salt and a quarter of a pound of allom to a gallon of water and poure it on them and press them down with a stone on them and keep them covered close. For that use I think the water will be best boyl’d and cold, which will keep longer sweet, or if you like not this pickle, doe it with water, salt and white wine vinegar, or (if you please) pour the water and salt on them scalding hot which will make them ready to use the sooner.’
In the Middle Ages, dill was also one of the herbs used by magicians in their spells.
Gladiators were fed meals covered with dill because it was hoped that the herb would grant them valor and courage.
Pillows of the dried herb were once placed in cradles to lull the baby to sleep with the fragrance. Hang a bunch of dill over a child’s bed to protect against evil fairies.
In Germany and Belgium, brides would attach a sprig of dill to their wedding gowns or they would carry it in their bouquets in the hopes that happiness would bless their marriages.
Dill has been used through the centuries as a Magic herb to prevent mischief from witches. A bag of dried dill was carried over the heart to ward off the evil eye.
Dill herb: No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.
Dill fruit: No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages. Photodermatosis is possible after contact with the juice of the freshly harvested plant.
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