Dill weed, also referred to simply as dill, is an annual herb that is easily grown in gardens or in deep containers on the patio or in the house. It is important not to confuse dill weed with dill seed, as the two have very different characteristics. Dill weed is mild and is a leafy herb, while dill seed is much stronger and acts more like a spice when added to foods.
Wash small amounts of dill weed under gently running cool water. Rinse well to remove all dirt and any insects or other debris. If you have a large amount to wash, either divide it up and rinse a small portion at a time or fill a container such as a bowl or dish pan with cool, clean water and place the dill weed into it. Move the dill around in the water to rinse it off thoroughly.
Shake the dill weed gently once you are done rinsing it. If you prefer, place it in a salad spinner and spin to remove the excess water. Carefully blot it dry with paper towels.
Cut the leaves from the large, tough stems. Discard the stems, as they are not used for flavoring. The exception to this is when the dill is being used for pickling, as it is customary to use the entire plant, including stems and seeds, in the pickling process.
Chop the dill leaves into small pieces. If you want them to be used for garnish as well as flavoring, leave the pieces big enough that sprigs of dill are identifiable.
Add the fresh, chopped dill to your favorite recipes. Dill is normally added after a dish has been cooked, as the high heat used in cooking destroys the flavor of this herb. Use dill weed to season poultry, casseroles, deviled eggs and other foods instead of using salt. The best flavor results from combining dill with other herbs such as thyme, tarragon and bay leaves.
Fresh dill weed has the best flavor, so use harvest leaves as you need them, if possible. Leaves can be dried in a dehydrator or air dried in a paper bag with holes and saved for off-season use. Don’t let them get too hot when drying them, or they will lose both color and flavor. Freezing is one of the best methods for preserving the flavor of fresh dill weed. Place clean sprigs of dill into plastic bags, seal and place in the freezer.