Dill seed and dill weed might seem similar at first glance, but the two herbs lend vastly different flavors to food. Learning how to harvest dill properly is essential for good production. We'll explain everything you need to do it right! Dill is a popular herb in the kitchen, flavoring everything from pickles to fish. The best way to make sure you have the very freshest dill possible is by growing dill in your own garden. Learn how to grow it here.
Dill Seed vs Dill Weed: What are the Differences?
Do you have a recipe that requires dill seed, and you’re wondering if you can use dill weed in place of the other? Maybe you already have one or the other in your pantry and need to know if a trip to the store is in order.
Yes, there are differences between the two. Understanding those differences will make it easier to understand where each one should be used, and what you can expect when you add each one to a recipe.
Difference between dill seeds and dill weed
The main difference between dill seed and dill weed is the part of the plant from which the spice gets harvested. Dill seed refers to a dill plant’s fruit while dill weed includes the green parts of the plant – such as leaves and stems.
Dill seed vs Dill weed comparison
Here’s how they compare:
- Appearance: Dill seeds are small, flat, and oval-shaped with a light brown to gray color. Dill weed is lighter, softer, and greener. Instead of seeds, it contains the thin, delicate leaves and stems of the dill plant.
- Flavor: Dill seed has a pungent, somewhat bitter flavor reminiscent of caraway. Dill weed has a lighter, herbal taste often described as lemony or grassy.
- Shelf Life: Dill seed can last up to four years when stored in an airtight container. Dill weed contains more plant matter and has a slightly shorter shelf life of two to three years.
- Use Cases: Dill seed lends a bold flavor to dishes and makes an excellent focal point for meats, stews, and more. Dill weed offers a more delicate flavor and works well in sauces, seafood, and other lightweight dishes.
- Cooking Times: It’s best to add dill seed towards the beginning of cooking to allow for the flavor to mellow. Dill weed loses its flavor when added too early and works best towards the end of cooking.
|Appearance||Flavor||Shelf Life||Uses||Cooking Time|
|Dill Seed||Brown to Gray||Spicy||3-4 years||Heavy, flavorful dishes||Add at the beginning|
|Dill Weed||Green||Herbal||2-3 years||Light, zesty dishes||Add close to serving|
Can you use dill seed instead of dill weed?
Even though they both come from the same plant, dill seed and dill weed have vastly different flavors. While dill seed boasts a strong, spicy flavor, dill weed is milder and more herbal.
In most cases, it isn’t advisable to interchange dill seed and dill weed in recipes. Your end flavor won’t be true to your starting recipe, especially when cooking international dishes.
The best option for dill seed is usually caraway seed, though fennel, coriander, and celery seed also make good alternatives. The best substitute for dill weed include fresh fennel, tarragon, or lemon thyme.
In a pinch, you may be able to substitute both by adjusting your recipe. Even though dill seed is stronger and more pungent than dill weed, it boasts a similar base flavor profile. When subbing dill weed for dill seed, keep in mind that you need about three heads of leaves to achieve the same flavor intensity as a tablespoon of seeds.
You should also note that dill seed and dill weed cook differently in recipes. Most dishes call for the early addition of dill seed to mellow out its flavor, while dill weed most often gets added towards the end of cooking. When swapping dill seed for dill weed, you may want to add your spices early on to avoid any intense flavors.
If you’re a stickler for appearances, keep in mind that dill weed is much more noticeable in dishes than dill seed. If you don’t want leaf strands to stand out, make sure you chop your dill weed as finely as possible before adding it to your dishes.
What is dill seed?
Dill seeds come from the flowers and fruit of the dill plant, and they’re a common ingredient in recipes worldwide.
People originally used it for medicinal purposes, dating as far back as ancient Egypt. It was considered an aid for insomnia, inflammation, and indigestion. The modern name “dill” comes from the ancient Norse word “Dylla,” which roughly translates to “to soothe or lull.”
In the early United States, dill seeds were also a popular digestive remedy. Puritans – particularly Quakers – would give children dill seeds to chew on as an appetite suppressant.
Dill seeds are a historic staple in traditional meals and recipes across Europe, Asia, and Scandinavia. The plant originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of Western Asia. Thanks to its hardy nature, it quickly spread to other regions.
In the United States, dill seed often gets used in slaws and pickling recipes. Dill pickles are a wildly popular fixture in salads, sandwiches, and more. They differ from regular sour pickles in that pickling vinegar is infused with dill seed.
How to use dill seed
Dill seed is pungent, with hints of camphor that come out during cooking. Many people compare it to the taste of caraway seeds, and home chefs often substitute one for the other.
You can use dill seed in a wide variety of hearty, savory dishes, though most people are familiar with the taste of dill seed from pickled goods, including cucumbers, beets, carrots, and even fish. It’s also a common ingredient in slaws, soups, and vegetable dishes.
Dill seeds go particularly well in many types of whole-grain bread and biscuits. You can even find sweet, cake-like caraway seed bread popular in Scandanavian, Eastern European, and Asian countries.
You’ll find dill seeds more often in Indian, Scandinavian, and Eastern European dishes. Dill seeds also feature in many traditional herbal remedies, particularly for digestive issues and insomnia. The spice is also a popular treatment for chronic halitosis, as the pungent smell helps improve bad breath.
When adding dill seed to any dish, it’s always a good idea to mix it in as early as possible to give flavors a chance to mellow. For example, if you are making a stew or braising meat, you should add dill seed at the liquid stage. However, if you are looking for a pungent dill taste, it’s fine to add seeds before serving.
What is dill weed?
When it comes to spices, plenty of people wonder – is dill weed the same as dill seed?
While dill seed comes from flowers and fruits, dill weed comes from the main body of the plant. It includes both feathery leaves and delicate stems.
People have been using dill weed for just as long as dill seed, if not longer. The ancient Egyptians prized dill for its soothing properties as far back as 5,000 years ago. The Babylonians also used dill medicinally. Societies such as the Romans and Greeks considered dill to be a symbol of luck and prosperity.
You find dill weed more commonly in American and European dishes than dill seed. Many people find its lighter flavor more tolerable, as it doesn’t overpower dishes. You can often find dill weed in salads, vegetable dishes, and light sauces.
The taste of dill is particularly popular in seafood dishes. Notes of citrus work to enhance the flavor of the fish, shellfish, and more. Often, the flavor gets paired with acidic ingredients such as lemon, lime, or white wine.
How to use dill weed
Dill weed has a much lighter flavor than its cousin, dill seed. Though both have green, woody, and citrus notes, dill weed offers a milder, more herbal taste.
You can use dill weed in a wide variety of seafood dishes – particularly those with fruity undertones. Dill also goes well with white sauces, whether paired with lean meats, pasta, or potato dishes.
Because of its stringy appearance, most home chefs will chop dill weed finely before adding it to any dish. Not only does this strengthen its mild flavor by introducing more oils, but it ensures that there are no changes to looks or consistency when serving a meal.
You may want to leave dill weed whole and uncooked as a garnish in some cases. The taste is light enough it won’t overpower your dish, and the light, feathery leaves add a charming compliment to any plate.
Unlike dill seed, you should add dill weed later in cooking to preserve the flavor. Otherwise, you may lose all herbal notes by the time you finish cooking. In simmering dishes such as soups or sauces, it’s best to add dill weed after removing everything from the heat. In fresh recipes, you can add dill weed right before serving.
If you choose to use dried dill weed, keep in mind that dried herbs tend to have a deeper taste than fresh varieties. You may have to adjust the amount you add to your dish to achieve the same level of flavor.
As a general rule of thumb, you should only use one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh in a recipe. Conversely, if you’re replacing dried herbs with fresh ones, you should increase the amount by one-third.
Dill seed and dill weed might seem similar at first glance, but the two herbs lend vastly different flavors to food. If you’re looking for something mild and herbal, dill weed is the right choice for you. For a stronger, spicier flavor, dill seed will give you the best taste.
How To Harvest Dill And Store It For Later
Dill is one of the most widely used herbs in the culinary world. It is harvested for its frond-like leaves and flavor-packed dill seeds. When used in soups or stews, it adds a punch of flavor to the recipe. It is often used in seafood dishes, salads, yogurt sauces, and even bread. Many people use dill as a garnish or for pickling. All in all, knowing how to harvest dill can take your ordinary recipes to the next level.
The best part is that growing dill and harvesting it is super easy. Harvesting the plant properly can guarantee a continuous supply of dill herb all year round. Since dill is self-seeding, you can even create a permanent dill patch in your garden by allowing the plants to flower and set seed.
Whether you are a seasoned gardener or an amateur, you can grow dill for harvesting in your very own garden. Once harvested, fresh dill weed can last a long time when stored properly. We’ll discuss everything you need to know about harvesting and storing dill weed and seeds.
When Should I Harvest Dill?
While you can pick dill leaves at virtually any time, the best time for dill weed is just before the plants start to flower. That’s when the oil in the leaves is most potent and it has the best flavor. If you want to extend the harvest on your growing dill weed, prevent the plants from flowering and going to seed.
Generally, it is recommended to choose a dry day to pick herbs, including dill. Start early and pick dill weed in the morning just as the dew from the night evaporates from the plant, but before the weather gets too hot.
As dill grows rather quickly, the leaves are ready for use in 6 to 8 weeks after planting. You can start harvesting your dill as soon as it has at least four to five leaves, but never take more than a third of the plant at a time. This helps your plant to regrow. If you need to use fresh dill more often, consider planting dill in larger quantities.
If you plan on harvesting the seeds, you’ll need to let some of your dill plants go to seed. Once they begin to flower, you may still harvest herbs from them, but the flavor changes. Those flower heads are essential as that’s where the seed forms.
How To Harvest Dill
While harvesting dill plant is easy, it is still a very crucial process as plant growth and foliage production depend on it. Snipping off too much dill weed can reduce the plant’s ability to recover quickly from the trimming. Take older leaves first unless you have a lot of dill. Use a pair of sharp and sterile scissors for snipping the leaves.
Always water your dill plant a day before harvesting dill. Doing so will make sure that the plants are well hydrated and recover quickly. If you’re watering overhead, it will also clean the herb so that you don’t have to wash it before use.
How To Harvest Dill Seeds
Dill seeds are around 4 to 5mm long and appear after the flowers fade. If you want to collect dill seeds, wait until the flowers have set seeds and those seeds start to turn brown. This is a good indication that the seeds are ready to harvest.
Place a paper bag carefully over the flower heads where the seeds are. You may need to bend the stem to make sure you don’t drop too many seeds. Then, snip through the bent point on the stem, letting the seed head fall into the bag. Repeat until you’ve collected as many as you’d like to, then place the bag somewhere to allow the heads to dry.
Once dried, crush the seed heads between your hands, breaking them up to release all the seed. Pour your herb and seed onto a flat surface, then lightly blow on it to remove the chaff from the seeds.
How To Store Fresh Dill Weed
Harvested herbs wilt quickly. However, it shouldn’t be a problem if you use it quickly or know how to store your dill properly.
To store dill fresh, wrap the stems loosely in damp paper towels. Once wrapped, place the stems in a sealable plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Stored this way, the herbs will last for a few days without losing any flavor.
You can also store dill herb in water if you cut full stems. Place the cut end of the stem in about an inch of water in a jar. Place a plastic bag overtop to act like a humidifier, and place in the refrigerator. Change the water daily. You should be able to store your fresh dill plant cuttings for up to a week without severe wilting of the dill leaves or flavor loss.
Finally, freeze dill weed for long-term storage. Wash the harvested leaves before chopping and transferring them to ice cube trays. Fill the cubes with just enough water to cover the freshly-minced herb. Once frozen solid, remove from the tray and store in a freezer-safe plastic bag. Frozen dill herbs will last for up to 3 to 4 months.
How To Dry Dill
Another way to store dill for a long time is to dry it. Keep in mind that dried dill is not as flavorful as frozen or fresh dill, especially if heat is used to dry the dill weed. The hottest temperature you should dry dill at is 110°F. A better approach is to hang-dry, but an air-only dehydrator or box fan drying method can also be used.
To hang-dry dill, take a couple of stems and bunch them together using a string. Tie them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Once the leaves are dry and crumble at a touch, store your dill herbs in a glass jar. Dried dill is best used within a year of storing.
Tips On How To Grow Dill Weed Plants
Dill is a popular herb in the kitchen, flavoring everything from pickles to fish. Gourmets know that you can’t beat fresh dill for the flavor. The best way to have the very freshest dill possible is by growing dill in your own garden. Let’s look at how to grow dill.
Planting Dill Seed
The best way how to grow dill is directly from seeds rather than from a transplant. Planting dill seed is easy. Dill planting is simply done by scattering the seeds in the desired location after the last frost, then lightly cover the seeds with soil. Water the area thoroughly.
Care of Dill Weed Plants
Growing dill plants and caring for dill plants is also very easy. Dill weed plants grow best in full sun. Other than this, dill will grow happily in both poor and rich soil or in damp or dry conditions.
Harvesting Dill Weed Plants
One of the benefits of growing dill is that both the leaves and seeds of dill weed plants are edible.
To harvest the dill leaves, regularly trim off the desired amount of leaves you need for cooking. If you wish to harvest dill seeds, allow the plant to grow without trimming until it goes into bloom. Once dill weed plants go into bloom, they’ll stop growing leaves, so make sure that you don’t harvest any leaves from that plant. The dill flower will fade and will develop the seed pods. When the seed pods have turned brown, cut the whole flower head off and place in a paper bag. Gently shake the bag. The seeds will fall out of the flower head and seed pods and you’ll be able to separate the seeds from the waste.
There are many recipes that use dill. Planting this herb in your garden will keep plenty of fresh dill on hand for all of these recipes. Now that you know how to grow dill, you have no reason not to be planting dill seed out this year.