Harvesting your Herbs: Dill Seed

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One of the joys of summer is anticipating and celebrating the arrival of seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs. Many of these have a very short season, so part of their allure lies in their ephemerality. Take dill, for example; one day you have a gorgeous, bushy plant supplying fragrant delicate fronds for all manner of gustatory pleasure, and in the blink of an eye it starts to go to seed.

For many of us, this is a cause for celebration too, for when those gorgeous yellow flowers start transitioning into seeds, they very briefly go through a stage, halfway between flower and seed, that offers a taste and fragrance that is as magical as it is short-lived.

 

dill

 

Cilantro does the same thing, changing from the lively herb, so indispensable in salsas and in South Asian and Mexican cuisine, to the stalwart coriander seed destined for the pickling brine. During this transition, before the coriander develops its deep, mature notes, the cilantro becomes a sort of crunchy berry, still green and fragrant, possessing qualities of both cilantro and coriander.

 

Dill flower becoming dill seed

Dill flower becoming dill seed

 

The change from dill weed to dill seed is no less exciting. The bright flavour and unmistakable perfume of dill mature into the dill seed that has an altogether different vibe, an earthy, spicy cross between caraway, fennel and anise. Many of us have ancient spice containers gathering dust in the pantry, and sadly this is our acquaintanceship with dill seed; a ho-hum, dried out adjunct to the pickling process. Fresh dill seed, on the other hand, just off the plant is a revelation. It is so good you want to nibble on it, sprinkle it into fresh tomato soups and mix into compound butters, marinades and tzatziki-like sauces.

 

my dill never looks this great...

my dill never looks this great…

 

If you are lucky enough to have a substantial dill plant, you will get a bountiful harvest of seeds, but even if you only manage a somewhat Charlie Brown Christmas Tree type of plant, you can still reap a little reward. And if you have a few plants, they will mature at different times throughout the latter parts of the season, so you will likely have plants that are still full of fronds, some in full flower, some with green berries and some gone to seed.

 

lots of flavour in these tiny seeds!

lots of flavour in these tiny seeds!

 

But it is the all too brief stage, where the flower first folds into tiny, bright green berries, that is the most exciting, marrying dill’s lively aroma with more mature, rounded spice.Try a few of these on your next grilled salmon, or adorning your next bagel and cream cheese, or borscht, or even baked in to your next batch of herb bread or biscuits. In fact, here’s a recipe for dill seed biscuits  that will have you regarding the dill plant-and biscuits too, for that matter- in a whole new light. And if you make these with your own, freshly harvested dill berries and seeds, you’re gonna win first prize at the county fair, guaranteed!

 

Dill seed biscuits

Dill seed biscuits

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