I haven't always enjoyed eating dill. When I was a child, I remember taking it out from the meals or salads, on which my mom used to spread it. But I grew up and started to cook myself, so I've learned things about taste and herbs. One thing led to another and here I am now, almost ready to cook a dill casserole stew - if only my husband would like to eat it!
During the years, I've learned to spread fresh dill on raw cabbage or cucumber salad, but also on tomato or lettuce salad. The largest quantity of chopped dill I'm using is in green peas casserole - my favorite dish of all, ever!
I'm also adding fresh dill in cabbage or green beans casserole, for a better taste. Chopped dill on the cream cheese I use for stuffing kapia peppers, makes it tastier and good looking too.
I need lots of dill for all these dishes, for all year long. It's easy to get it in the summer, but not so easy during the cold season. Although I can buy it from the supermarket, almost everyday, that dill isn't the same as what grows in a garden. It's a total different color and aroma, which is so important for the dishes' taste and color .
Ever since I moved in to the countryside, I've been growing dill in my garden. At first, I had a few plants, here and there, between the roses - because they say it attracts the insects which are feeding the mealy bugs. Since those weren't even close to the quantity I need, I've started to sow dill seeds on a square meter (10 sq feet) of soil, every summer. It isn't much, yet it's almost enough for our family's needs. That's why I was very happy when I received the great news from my friend, to come and pick up the dill from his garden.
I was skeptical at first and didn't believe he had that much, but when I saw it, I couldn't believe my eyes! I knew that dill can grow like one meter (3 feet) tall and bushy, if grown in a good soil, a sunny place and regularly watered.
Dill is an annual, self-seeded herb, the only species in the genus Anethum. It sprouts in May and reaches maturity in July. Dill has hollow stems and finely divided leaves. It blooms by the end of June. Flowers are many, small and yellow, arranged in an umbel. The bigger the plant, the bigger the umbel! Seeds are formed on the umbel, after the flowers are gone - about in July. If not harvested in time, the seeds get dry and are scattered everywhere, by the wind. I usually harvest some of my dill when it's blooming, because that's when the leaves are dark green and have the best aroma, which is given by the essential oils it contains. I'm leaving a few plants on purpose, until they form seeds, but before they get dry. I'm harvesting a few and keep them in a paper bag, with the umbels inside, so the seeds won't scatter around. Those seeds are the best spice for the sauerkraut I make in the fall. I let the other plants in the garden, also on purpose, to scatter seeds around, for the next year's dill patch. I'm sure my friend forgot more than a few plants in his garden!
My friend didn't exaggerate at all, the dill was growing that tall and bushy that it was almost covering the corn plants. No wonder he wanted to get rid of it! And since he is single, he doesn't need too much dill for the winter - but we do!!
Our friend was nice and helped me pull out the dill plants, then carried it for me to the car, until it didn't fit anymore in the trunk - yes, that much and it wasn't all!
Once I got back home, I put the dill plants in a huge bucket, filled with water, to stay fresh, until the next day, when I had time to rip off the leaves from the stalk.
Winter is usually hard in our country, that's why I always need to freeze some dill - or dry it - any method it's good, although I much prefer freezing. This is what I did with that huge amount of dill, put it in plastic bags and froze it. It was hard for me to do it all alone, but I had no choice but do it and had to do it quickly, otherwise it would have wilted. All that work and the dill would have been lost and I didn't want that.
Last year was a full one, with a great crop, but not only for me, but also for our friend. He called again, asking me if I still wanted dill. I said "Yes!" and so I went again at his place to pick it up.
Fortunately, my daughter and my two grandsons were staying at my place, over the summer, so I had help for ripping off the dill leaves. The kids enjoyed the work very much and, therefore, I asked for their help every time I had more herbs to rip off - thus having a few minutes of peace and quiet in our home!