Dill, else known as Anethum Graveolens, is believed to have originated from the Mediterranean region. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary benefits in many countries. It is also a widely used herb in Greek culture.
Today, dill is used for both home and commercial purposes. Dill seeds are used as a spice, while the leaves are called dill weed and are used as herb. The plant usually is available in early summer and spring. But growing it in the greenhouse will ensure its availability throughout the year.
So what is dill?
Dill leaves, or dill weed is a feathery green plant with great culinary applications and therapeutic benefits. It comes from the celery family and tends to spread widely, which is a good thing if you’re planning to plant it in your garden.
Although it’s native in Southern Russia and the Mediterranean region, it’s widely cultivated and utilized worldwide. Owing to its citrusy flavor, dill seeds or leaves can be used in dressing salads, as a condiment spice, or even drink as juice.
Dill texture and taste
Generally, dill is soft and becomes airy and light when dried. However, the dried herb might not be as smooth as the ground one. You only feel the texture with your fingers when it is raw but not when in the dish.
The herb has a grassy taste with a somewhat sweet flavor to it. Dill seeds have a citrusy flavor, and you can compare it to that of caraway seeds. Dill is also rich in nutrients, and it has a myriad of medicinal uses, from treating digestive issues to colic problems in infants and bad breath.
Dill comes in two forms:
Dried – Dried dill has a rich, herbal, and fresh aroma that resembles caraway, parsley, and fennel. Dried leaves are the ideal way to flavor egg dishes, salad dressing, and poultry dishes. It’s also excellent for flavoring vegetables, pickles, and soups.
You can dry dill in four methods;
- Air-Drying – Wash the plan and dry it using paper towels. Dry them and separate seeds and leaves. Put the seeds in a dry container and crush leaves to get a powder-like product.
- Use a food dehydrator – Clean the plant and separate leaves and seeds. Set the dehydrator at 85 degrees and allow your plant to dry for approximately 6 hours.
- Oven – Wash the plant with clean water. Spread your plant over the oven’s tray and dry it. The temperature should be at the lowest setting, which is 43 degrees. It will take between 2-4 hours to have the dill completely dry.
- Microwave – Just like in other methods, washing your plant is the initial step. Dry it using clean paper towels and insert it in the microwave. Keep checking your plants until it dries to your liking.
These four methods are easy, and they help in keeping the flavor of the dill.
Fresh – If you’ve cultivated your own dill, pick it at its peak of freshness. Morning hours, when the dew has evaporated, is the best time to harvest your herb. This is the time the plant is most flavorful.
Dill is versatile and makes a perfect combination with various dishes. You can buy dill in bulk but use it in small quantities. It can be used in all types of diets, including keto, paleo, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, low-sodium, and many more. Dill herb can be added to things like soups, yogurt, and salad dressings.
5 best dill substitutes
Every herb has its unique flavor, but the taste can be substituted with other herbs. Check your spice cabinet to see if you have the following dill substitutes.
Tarragon is a highly aromatic, leafy green herb. The perennial herb is widely used for fragrance, flavoring, and medicinal purposes. Due to its subtle taste, tarragon pairs perfectly with dishes like chicken, eggs, beef, asparagus, and fish.
The herb is low in carbohydrates and calories and consists of nutrients that might be good for your health.
Tarragon is still considered the king of herbs, even with its bittersweet flavor. It’s usually compared to fennel, anise, or licorice. Given its unique flavor and aroma, fresh tarragon should be used in moderation as it can quickly overpower a recipe when used in excess.
There are 3 main types of tarragon to choose from:
- Russian tarragon – This variety has an extremely mild flavor. Russian tarragon is the easiest to grow, making it the most available and affordable herb.
- French tarragon – French tarragon is a widely used herb in cooking. However, it’s the most difficult to grow. This makes it quite expensive.
- Mexican tarragon – It’s also known as Texas tarragon or Spanish tarragon. It’s a lesser-known form of herb with an anise-rich flavor.
Available in both dried and fresh form, tarragon herb makes an excellent addition to many dishes. It can pair well with seafood, egg dishes, chicken, beef, and lamb. It can also pair with acidic flavors, such as vinegar and lemon.
The feathery herb is an ideal dill substitute. It has a mild sweet flavor. The entire fennel plant is consumable, and it offers a wide range of cooking applications.
Fennel is primarily available in winter and fall. However, it can be grown in a greenhouse for an all-year supply. The plant enjoys cool weather, but it should not be freezing.
Fennel’s taste is usually described as anise-flavor. Fresh fennel’s anise flavor is mild and delicate. The texture is a lot more like celery- fibrous and crunchy. The texture is silky and soft when cooked. The seeds have a savory flavor and are often used in slow-cooked and hearty dishes.
Fennel comes in two distinct types: Herb fennel and Florence fennel. The herb fennel grows about 3-6 feet tall stashed with a fine texture. Leaves, seeds, and stems of this fennel are all harvested and used.
On the other hand, Florence fennel is a bit shorter, and it’s grown for its flat, large thick rosy of petioles. Both forms bear licorice or anise flavor.
Fennel herb is versatile as it can be used in soups, fish dishes, and stews. The seeds can also be used in sausages. The bulbs are used in salad dressing- whether raw or steamed.
Rosemary is another excellent dill substitute. This fragrant evergreen plant is native to the Mediterranean region. It has a myriad of uses, like manufacturing bodily perfumes, culinary condiments, and several health benefits.
It belongs to the mint family and other herbs like basil, thyme, lavender, and oregano. Very high doses of rosemary may cause vomiting. Therefore, always use it in moderation.
According to Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, rosemary’s aroma can boost a person’s performance, accuracy, speed, and concentration.
Rosemary has a slightly sage-like, minty, pepper taste that leaves you with a woody aftertaste. It is a powerful herb that can easily and quickly overwhelm other flavors. Adding it gradually in small amounts will prevent it from overwhelming the taste of your food.
Rosemary can be grown as upright shrubs or grow as ground cloves. It comes in several varieties, including arp, blue boy, Joyce de Baggio, spice islands, pine-scented rosemary, to mention a few.
I love the flavor and aroma of rosemary. I have used it in several dishes and enjoyed insanely delicious dishes. You can use the herb to prepare roasted potatoes, chicken, baked artichokes, salmon, and rosemary bread. You could also use it to make a delicious lentil rosemary soup, mushroom cream sauce, or avocado salad.
Thyme is another excellent dill substitute for medicinal, ornamental, and dietary uses. Its oil, flowers, and leaves are used to treat various symptoms.
This Mediterranean herb is thought to have antifungal, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties. It’s also used to season dishes alongside other herbs like marjoram, rosemary, and sage. Thyme is rarely an allergen, and anyone can consume it.
Thyme is known to have a sharp, minty flavor. It has a unique flavor that is a little bit peppery and a little bit sweet. The subtle flavor and aroma blend well with other herbs.
Growing to about 15-inch tall, thyme leaves add a charm to your garden. With over 300 varieties to choose from, here are the most common;
- Woolly thyme – It’s a tiny ground cover thyme with dense leaves. It rarely blooms, therefore ideal for individuals who don’t like flowers.
- Lemon thyme – Lemon thyme looks like English thyme though it has a luscious lemon taste and flavor. This is my favorite, and it takes well to pruning.
- Elfin thyme – This is one of the slowest and smallest growling thyme varieties. It has lavender flowers with small green leaves.
- Lavender thyme – It has a lavender aroma.
- Italian oregano thyme – The culinary Italian thyme grows up to 12-inches. It can be used in a wide range of Italian dishes.
Both fresh and dried thyme is available in a grocery store near you. Due to its subtle flavor, thyme can be used with different herbs like parsley, basil, oregano, tarragon, and chives.
The herb adds flavor to your recipe without overwhelming other herbs. Thyme is typically used when cooking braised chicken, pork, lamb, baked and roasted chicken, and beef. Use it for seasoning, marinating, or add to your fish sauces or soups.
A long-time mainstay in Middle Eastern and European cuisine, parsley has become a household herb worldwide. The ancient Greeks and Romans used parsley to mask the scent from the dead.
But today, this dill substitute is best known for its versatility. It adds a touch of herbal flavor to salads, sauces, and any dish.
Parsley is available in both dried and fresh forms. It has a herbaceous, bright, and slightly bitter taste, similar to lemon zest. It adds a unique and attractive popping green color to cuisines.
Parsley comes in four varieties, including;
- Curly leaf– It’s recognizable by its bright green color and ruffled leaves.
- Flat-leaf– This is the widely used parsley. It has a fresh, bitter taste to make it suitable for garnishing.
- Japanese parsley – It’s slightly bitter parsley native to China and Japan. It has thick stems which can be eaten alone.
- Hamburg – Else known as Parsley root, is native to Germany. It has thick roots and large leaves. Hamburg roots are used to flavor soups and stews, while the leaves are used ornamentally.
Fresh parsley adds a touch of deliciousness to your dishes. Its leafy, vibrant appearance and herbaceous taste give recipes fresh flavor and aroma. It is also the main ingredient in a French bouquet garni.
Parsley is also the primary ingredient in chimichurri condiment- a common South American cuisine. Dried parsley is highly recommended to be used in the entire cooking process. The concentrated flavors need time to marinate before serving. It is also used as a flavorful addition to ground meat, herb-laced doughs, and red sauces.
Dill is a fascinating herb with subtle anise. Although no herb can match dill’s flavor, there is nothing wrong with experimenting with other great flavors. The herbs mentioned above make the perfect dill substitute and will lace your dishes with a unique aroma. However, ensure the aroma and flavors suit your taste and preference.