Dill is a fabulous but somewhat underused herb that's useful for canning pickles and a great addition to many homecooked meals. Whether you grow dill or buy it fresh at a farmers market or grocery store, you'll find that this herb wilts very quickly. Fortunately, there are several ways to preserve dill and enjoy its fresh taste whenever you need it in cooking.
If you are growing dill, make sure to pick it at peak freshness. As with most herbs, it's best to harvest later in the morning after the dew has evaporated, as this is when the plants are more flavorful. For dill that you plan to use within the next week, treat it similar to cut flowers, placing the stems in a water-filled jar. The remaining dill can be preserved by freezing or drying the herb or creating dill-flavored vinegar.
How to Freeze Dill
When frozen, intact dill sprigs will remain usable well into the winter and possibly even until spring. If you intend to use the dill in canned goods, it is best to freeze both the leafy stems and the flower heads to maximize the dill's flavor impact.
- Rinse the dill fronds and flower heads with water to remove dust and insects. Shake the herb gently to remove most of the moisture.
- Thoroughly dry the dill by allowing it to hang upside down to maintain the best shape. You can also lay it out on an absorbent material, such as layers of paper towels. Do not let the dill get crispy dry—you simply want it to lose most of its moisture.
- Place the dried dill into an airtight container, such as a pail, and seal it tightly. If your container allows the herb to sit upright, the dill will keep its attractive shape in the freezer.
- Place the container in the coldest part of your freezer until needed.
How to Dry Fresh Dill
If you don't have room in the freezer for an entire container of dill, you can also store it as a dried, ground herb. Similar to how you'd dry and preserve other herbs like basil and oregano, this is a convenient way to add the herb to a variety of food dishes year-round.
- Allow the dill sprigs to hang upside down in bundles for one to two weeks. Once the herb becomes crispy and crumbles when you pinch it, it is ready for storage.
- Working over a large bowl, crumble the leaves from the stem and into the bowl. It should be a quick task; if the dill is dry enough, you can grind it very fine using just your hands.
- Once the dill is ground to your liking, place the dry dill in a glass jar with a tight-sealing lid. Dried dill will remain flavorful for about a year.
When your dill harvest is particularly large, you might even consider using freezing and drying to give yourself options when cooking.
How to Make Dill Vinegar
Another way to preserve dill is by capturing its taste in vinegar and storing it for use whenever you need it in recipes. For the best flavor, use both whole dill sprigs and one cup of chopped dill. This process works best with either apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar.
- In a small bowl, crush the chopped dill leaves with a wooden spoon, and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat one cup of the vinegar until it is warm but not boiling. Place the whole dill sprigs into the warmed vinegar and allow them to soak up the vinegar.
- Separate the dill sprigs from the vinegar and pour the hot vinegar over the crushed dill. Mix well.
- Allow the mixture to cool, then add another two cups of vinegar. Mix well.
- Using a funnel, pour the mixture through a double layer of cheesecloth into a decorative bottle.
- For a bottle that looks fabulous on the countertop, you can also add the warmed sprigs of dill and a few seed heads into the bottle, though it's not necessary. The herb-infused vinegar should remain shelf-stable at room temperature for three to six months.