Dill conjures up thoughts of delicious potato salads and pickles. This unique herb is popular in European and Asian cuisine, although it is available worldwide. Its wispy leaves make it an easy herb to dry and keep for months without worrying about it going to waste.
There are a few guidelines to ensure that dill does not lose its flavor or spoil during the dehydration process.
Follow the guide below to find out everything you need to know to successfully dry dill.
Types of Dill
Dill leaves are known as dill weed, while the seeds are known as dill seeds and used as a spice. The plant has thin feathery green leaves that form in bunches on the stem.
Flat, oval fruits produce dill seeds which have a similar taste to caraway. The leaves provide a unique licorice flavor, with touches of aniseed.
Due to these bold flavors, dill does not need to be used in large quantities. Dill herb pairs well with eggs, salad, and is used in ranch dressing. The seeds are commonly used in pickling and spice seasonings.
Can You Dry Dill Weed?
Yes, dill is an easy herb to dry, especially if you live in a warm, dry climate. There are several methods to dry the herb ranging from natural air-drying to faster oven-drying.
Oven-drying is the best way to dry dill if you live in a very humid climate. Humidity and moisture in the air can lead to mold forming before the herb has a chance to dry out completely.
Air-drying dill by hanging is the most time-consuming dehydration method and can take 1 to 2 weeks. This method is, however, the best way to preserve the flavor as exposure to heat slowly dulls the herbal tones.
Once dehydrated and packed into air-tight containers, dill should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
How To Dry Dill
Regardless of the way you choose to dehydrate the dill, it needs to be trimmed and cleaned first.
Step 1: Cut the dill fronds at the base of the stem. Only use sprigs that are in a healthy condition. Discard any yellowed, brown, or moldy stems.
Step 2: Lightly rinse the leaves in cold water.
Step 3: Place the dill leaves on a clean paper- or kitchen towel and pat them dry. All the excess moisture from washing has to be dried before you start the dehydration process. After drying the leaves with the paper towel leave them to air dry further for a few minutes if needed.
Decide whether you want to air-dry or oven-dry the leaves and follow the instructions below accordingly.
Method 1: Air-Dry by Hanging
Step 1: Form Bundles
Gather a few sprigs and tie them together at the base of the stem with an elastic. The bundles should not be too big to allow even airflow and drying.
Step 2: Hang
Choose a place with good light and air circulation to hang the herb bundles. The leafy fronds should be facing downwards. Avoid areas that are moist such as spaces near a stove, dishwasher, or bathroom. Also, avoid drying the herbs in direct sunlight as this may cause some flavor loss.
Optionally you can cover the bundles with a paper bag to catch any dried, falling leaves. Make sure to cut small holes in the bag to allow sufficient airflow. Do not use plastic as this will prevent airflow and cause mold.
Check the leaves after 1 week. When fully dry the leaves should be brittle and break easily when you handle them. The drying process can take up to 2 weeks depending on the climate.
Step 3: Pack
Take the dried herb bundles down. Working over a bowl or plate remove the leaves by running your fingertips down the stem. The leaves should crumble easily. You can crush the dill into smaller pieces with a mortar and pestle if you wish. This is ideal for seasoning salads and making salad dressings.
Step 4: Store
Store the dried, crushed herbs in a jar or container with a lid and label it with the date and contents.
Note: When drying dill, it is important to make sure that it is completely dehydrated before packing the herbs. Mold will develop if moisture is present, even inside your packaging. If the leaves are still pliable and don’t crumble easily, they need more drying time.
Method 2: Oven-Drying
Step 1: Preheat Oven
Preheat the oven to its lowest heat setting around 110 °F (43 °C).
Step 2: Prepare Leaves
Place the cleaned dill leaves on a lined baking tray in a single layer.
Step 3: Bake
Place the tray of leaves inside the preheated oven and prop the door open slightly to allow for some airflow. Turn the leaves after 40 to 60 minutes to allow even drying on both sides. Return the tray to the oven. Check the dill every 30 minutes to make sure it does not burn.
The dill will be dried out between 2 and 4 hours. The length of time required will depend on the climate as well as the oven type. The leaves should crumble when pinched between your fingers.
Step 4: Store
Let the dried dill cool for a few minutes. Remove the leaves from the stem and crush them into smaller pieces if desired. Store the dill in resealable plastic bags, spice bottles, or containers. Label with the date and contents.
The method you choose to dry dill will depend on the climate, time, and equipment available. A food dehydrator can also be used to dry herbs. Instructions for the specific device will be provided in its accompanying manual, although the process will be similar to oven-drying.
Always make sure the leaves are completely dehydrated before packing to ensure their longevity. Dried dill will serve you well for many months and spruce up any savory dish with a unique burst of flavor.
*image by ComandaX/depositphotos