Dill, native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia, is an herb that has been used extensively in cooking for generations. It's a staple ingredient for pickling vegetables like carrots, beetroot, and cucumbers. In fact, the dill pickles that everyone is so fond of are just cucumbers that were pickled using the dill herb. It's for this reason that dill weed is also sometimes called the "pickle herb."
Dill is a hardy annual and is easy to grow and maintain. If you decide to plant dill in your garden, you can cultivate it for yourself with minimal effort. Dill is also available in most supermarkets, and may be found fresh, whole stemmed in a cold section of the vegetable aisle, or dried and chopped in the herb section in the baking aisle. Fresh dill leaves have much more flavor than the seeds or dry dill. Drying dill is the best option for long-term storage, but you can extend the shelf-life of your fresh dill by following a few simple steps.
1. Remove Excessive Moisture
Dill weed wilts quickly. If you want to store fresh dill in the refrigerator, it lasts longer in the absence of excessive moisture. You may avoid washing the dill weed before storing it if you are certain it's clean. However, washing fresh dill removes dirt particles that host bacteria which can break down the dill leaves faster.
2. Storing Fresh Dill in the Refrigerator
After you harvest dill from your backyard or bring it home from the store, do a thorough inspection to rule out any insects, worms, bugs, and dirt. If everything looks good, shake the stems loosely and place them in a plastic bag or wrap them in plastic wrap. If you wash your dill, make sure it's been well dried before storing. Wrap the leaves loosely in a piece of paper towel to absorb any condensation that may form inside the bag. If you notice the herbs are too dry, you can slightly dampen the paper towel.
The key is to find balance between excessive moisture and absence of moisture that would dry out the leaves. When kept in the refrigerator in this manner, dill can last up to 10 days or longer and still maintain its freshness. For best results, keep the temperature in your fridge below 40 degrees F.
While mostly reserved for storing tender herbs, you can also keep the dill in a jar or vase with water and cover the top with a plastic cover. If you do this, make sure the jar or vase is sealed tightly using a rubber band or string. Sealing the jar prevents the combination of water and air causing condensation that leads to wilting.
3. Freezing Fresh Dill
If you freeze fresh dill, it can last for several months and still give a good, strong flavor. You can either freeze the dill as is or can cut it before storing.
Storing as Is
To store the dill as is, remove the bottom part of the stem. Spread out the leaves on a white paper towel and look for any signs of worms or dirt. It's best to do this inspection under a bright light so that you don't miss anything.
Think ahead and divide the dill by the approximate amount you'll use for each cooking session. This way, all you have to do is take out what you need and preserve your overall batch. When you remove your food from the freezer multiple times, you are exposing it to multiple temperature changes and ruining the integrity and flavor of the food. Temperature change and exposure to air creates an opportunity for bacteria growth. Always follow safe food handling standards when storing and using frozen foods.
Once you have segregated the dill weed, put each section freezer-safe containers like freezer-safe plastic bags and place them in the freezer.
Storing Cut Dill
You can also cut the dill weed and store it in the freezer. You will want to wash the dill if you intend to chop it before freezing. Like all fruits and vegetables, the outside will inevitably contain some bacteria. Cutting exposes the inside of the dill leaf to anything on the outside of the leaf and that can lead to contamination.
Wash the dill and place it between paper towels so that all the moisture is absorbed. You can also place the leaves on a rack until the moisture evaporates. Avoid leaving the dill weed to dry for too long, as the leaves can actually end up too dry.
Once the excess moisture has been removed, cut the leaves and separate them into portions. Avoid chopping too finely, as this can cause a loss of flavor. Portion and store in a freezer-safe storage bag and place your herb in the freezer.
Best Way to Store Fresh Dill For Sauces and Soups
For sauces and soups try freezing dill in ice cube trays. Follow safe handling and best practice steps for preparing chopped dill. Portion your dill and place it the bottom of individual ice cube slots. Cover with water and freeze. After the portions are frozen, you can remove the cubes of dill from the ice cube tray and store in a freezer-safe container.
Dill isn’t the only food that stores well in the freezer. Save money by stocking up on seasonal produce and other foods that can be preserved in the freezer.