Dill weed is traditionally found in Scandinavian and German cuisines, but has grown in popularity the world over.
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The plant is native to Russia and Western Europe and is used in a wide variety of dishes. It can also be referred to as dill leaves.
The dill plant also has seeds that are used as a spice in cooking. They have a vastly different taste to the dill weed, with more notes of caraway.
The flavor is much stronger and slightly more bitter than that of dill weed. This means that they do not make a great substitute for one another.
What happens if you are cooking a dish that calls for dill weed, but come to find out you do not have any in your home? We have found a selection of the best substitutes to use in place of dill weed. We've found your dill substitute.
What is dill weed?
Dill has been used for culinary applications for centuries. There are recipes dating back to the middle of the 17th century that combine dill and cucumber - potentially an early iteration of the dill pickle we all know and love.
Dill weed refers to the leaves of the Anethum graveolens or dill plant. These are either fresh or dried and used as a dill herb in cooking with a dill leaf. It has a buttery and grassy taste. Many people say there are notes of lemon and anise in the herb too.
Dill weed belongs to the same family of herbs as cumin, caraway, cilantro, fernleaf dill, anise, and fennel. It is a funny plant, in that it bolts (flowers) when the weather turns hot.
This alters the flavor of the leaves, making them more bitter and much less aromatic. This means that the period when dill is in season falls between the spring and the beginning of the summer.
As it is a delicate herb, it should be added near to the end of the cooking process to preserve the flavors and aromas. It is commonly used with seafood, particularly salmon. It is also a key ingredient in many white sauces, potato salads, and with eggs.
In the United States, the primary use of dill is as a flavoring for dill pickles. It is also a primary component of ranch dressing alongside buttermilk.
Significance of dill weed
During the first century in Rome, dill weed was seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune. In Ancient Egypt, it was hailed as an aphrodisiac and was also utilized to scare off witches. In ancient Greece, the dill weed was a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
Some people believe you should include lots of dill flowers in your wedding ceremony. They are believed to offer protection as well as bringing wealth, passion, and happiness to your home.
For this reason, some people will have bunches of dill flowers around their home.
Where can you buy dill weed?
Most grocery stores should sell fresh and dried dill weed.
Fresh dill will be found in bunches inside the fresh produce or herb sections of the store.
Good quality dill will have stems that appear freshly cut and the leaves will not be wilted. You should transport and handle it carefully to avoid damaging the delicate fronds.
Dried dill and dill seeds will be found in the spice racks of the grocery store.
How should you store fresh dill weed?
To store fresh dill weed for the short term, wrap it loosely in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.
If you are storing it this way, you should attempt to use it within a day or two. This is because the leaves are very prone to wilting and turning into mush.
For a slightly longer storage option, trim the stems of the dill. Place the dill bunch inside a glass of water and loosely wrap the exposed areas in damp paper towels.
Cover it with plastic wrap. This can be placed in the refrigerator and stored for up to a week.
Alternatively, you can mist dill stems with water and wrap them loosely in paper towels. This can then be stored inside a zip lock plastic bag.
Place this bag in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator and store it for up to a week.
Pulse the leaves and add a drop of water. This will help to transform the leave into a paste.
Add this paste to an ice cube tray. Place this level in your freezer and allow it to freeze solid. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a resealable and labeled freezer bag. Return to the freezer for storage.
What are the health benefits of dill?
Dill weed is believed to help soothe stomach issues, such as colic in babies. It has antibacterial properties and can be used to freshen breath (particularly in the case of dill seeds).
Dill is also believed to help stimulate milk production in lactating women.
One serving of dill contains just under 10% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Dill is believed to lower blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It has been traditionally used for its medical benefits for many years.
Basil is often used in Asian and Italian dishes and comes in a wide variety of colors.
It is strong and sweet and has a huge number of different uses.
Chervil belongs to the same family of plants as parsley, tasting somewhere between that and licorice.
It belongs to the same family as parsley and has a mild licorice taste.
Fresh fennel has delicate and feathery fronds that are very similar in appearance to dill weed. This can be used as a direct substitute for dill weed with little alteration in flavor profile and aesthetics.
This is a great substitute for garnishing purposes as they look almost identical.
The stems can also be used in place of dill in cooked dishes. They have a slightly sweet taste, reminiscent of that of licorice.
Parsley has a mild flavor and it will not overpower the other flavor profiles in your dish.
This is a common herb in Spanish, Italian, and French cuisine.
It works perfectly when combined with sauces, meats, potatoes, and salad dressings.
Tarragon is a good substitute for dill weed. The scent and flavors are very similar to dill, but the herb is much more resilient.
This means that it can be added to cooked dishes earlier on than dill weed. It is particularly effective when used as a dill weed substitute in sauces and soups.
If you have fresh tarragon to hand, you can use it as an exact substitute. This means you would use the same quantity of fresh tarragon as your recipe dictates of fresh dill weed.
If you are going to use dried tarragon, we suggest a substitution rate of 1 teaspoon dried tarragon for every tablespoon of fresh dill weed.
Thyme comes from the same family as mint. It has a strong flavor and is common in Mediterranean cuisine.
This is a perfect substitute for dill weed when you wish to make stew, roast, or bake foods. This is because it can hold up to heat much better than sill weed and can also be cooked for longer with little deterioration in taste.
As a bonus substitute, you can use dried dill as a substitute for fresh dill weed. This has been freeze-dried to retain the aromas and flavors for longer than fresh herbs would.
To directly substitute dried dill for dill weed, you will need to use 1 teaspoon of the dried version for every tablespoon of fresh dill weed specified.
How can you grow your own dill?
Dill is an annual herb that grows yellow flowers as the weather warms up. You should not move dill once it has grown roots.
This means that you should sow the seeds directly into pots for your windowsill, or outside in your herb garden where you intend it to stay.
You should sow the seeds from mid-spring to summer in 1cm deep rows, covered lightly in soil. The resultant seedlings should be thinned when they are large enough to handle and set 15cm apart.
They should be watered regularly and the soil should not be allowed to dry out. Do not overwater the plants, and use garden canes to support them and prevent them from falling over.
Do not plant dill near to fennel. This is because both seedlings have a tendency to cross-breed and the offspring do not taste nice.
Harvest dill during the spring and summertime. Based on personal experience, growing dill is quite easy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use dill seed instead of dill weed?
Dill seed is not an ideal substitute for dill weed. Which may come as a surprise to the casual cook! The great thing about dill is that you can eat the whole of the plant. This means not only can you eat those delicious leaves, but you can also eat the tasty bulb and the plant’s seeds, too.
However, dill seeds have a much more potent flavor. This tends to be camphorous in tone, and can be quite bitter. Dill leaves tend to have a much more delicate flavor, so it may be frustrating to learn that you can’t substitute parts of the same plant for your recipe. It does depend on the recipe, of course.
If the recipe states that you can substitute dill seed for dill weed, you will need to use much less of it. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of dried dill, you should opt for half a teaspoon of dill seed.
What is the difference between dill and dill weed?
There is no difference between dill and dill weed, because this basically refers to the same plant. However, there are different parts of the plant that can be used in cooking.
Dill is a fantastic herb to use in cooking because you can use the whole of it in your recipes. Different parts of the plant will produce different flavors, which can produce very different dishes. Interestingly, you can also use dill both fresh and dried.
Dill seed typically refers to the fruit aspect of the plant. This has a stronger, more bitter flavor than the leaves. The leaves of dill weed have a milder, grassier flavor. Some people taste more of a lemon or aniseed taste to dill weed, too. On the whole, dill tends to be a sensitive herb, so should be added towards the end of the cooking process.
What tastes similar to dill?
While there are as many as 7 different substitutes for dill weed, not all of these have a similar flavor to the herb in question. There are 2 different herbs that are similar in taste and appearance to dill, and which make for an excellent last minute replacement if you haven’t got any dill weed in your store cupboard.
The first herb that tastes and appears similar to dill is fennel. This herb has very similar leaves to dill weed, so you could be forgiven for mistaking one for the other at a glance. Fennel has a more aniseed flavor, but this does taste quite similar to the more potent varieties of dill. Fennel in particular makes for a great garnish substitute for dill because of how similar they appear.
Tarragon would be our next choice in terms of similar flavor. This herb is also more resilient than dill, so can be added earlier in the cooking process. Fresh tarragon can be used in the same quantities as fresh dill.
Can you substitute cilantro for dill?
If you were really struggling to find similar tasting herbs to dill, you can indeed use cilantro. The flavors of these two herbs are markedly different, however, they do both belong to the same family tree.
It’s worth noting that cilantro can be quite potent when used in large quantities, so we would suggest using it sparingly. If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dill seed, you should use 1 teaspoon of cilantro. If it calls for more dill weed, you should pare it down appropriately so as to not overwhelm your dish.
If you’re wanting a substitute for dill that tastes similar, we’d suggest going for tarragon.
There are many different substitutes for dill weed that would work well in a variety of recipes.
The closest substitute is tarragon and this should always be your first call, although any would work in a pinch.