If you’ve grown Dill, you may have noticed that this annual plant can spread its seeds rapidly in your garden. Before you know it, you find yourself with an abundant harvest of dill more than what you can immediately use in the kitchen.
While fresh dill typically wilts after 7 days, there are practices that can extend the shelf life of dill for months or even years. Five unique preservation methods are 1) Air-drying, 2) Heat-Dehydration, 3) Freezing, 4) Preserving in Frozen Oil or Butter, and 5) Preserving with Salt.
If you are looking for ways to store your dill long-term without having to worry about its freshness, we are here to discuss each method’s pros, cons, and step-by-step instructions to help you out!
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In choosing a method to preserve your dill, you can consider factors such as the expected shelf life, sustainability, and the method’s effects on the aroma, texture, and flavor of the dill.
Air-drying is the cheapest way to preserve your dill. Naturally drying herbs only requires a few pieces of string and access to a cool, dry place.
- Wash. Thoroughly wash your freshly harvested stalks of dill. If you are growing your dill plant organically, tiny bugs may have been hiding under the leaves.
- Tie Up. Use a clean, food-safe thread to tie together a few stems of dill.
- Hang. Hang them up to dry with the leaves pointing down. Choose a place which has good airflow. A warm environment will destroy the flavor of the dill. It will take 1-2 weeks for the dill to completely lose moisture.
- Store. Once they are crisp and brittle, detach the leaves from the stems and store them in an airtight container.
- Shelf Life: If you keep the container in a cool place, the dill will remain fresh for up to 6 months.
This is the only method which retains the quality and shape of the leaves. It is also the most hassle-free method because it does not require appliances such as the freezer, oven, dehydrator, or microwave.
Herbs lose some of their nutritional value when dried. In addition, dried herbs don’t smell and taste as strongly as their original form.
Air-drying herbs also require wide spaces to hang up individual stalks for several weeks. Not everyone has access to an ideal location; those who live in high-humidity areas might find their herbs unable to dry and forming into a moldy clump.
Certain appliances can speed up the drying process of herbs by using heat. You may use a dehydrator, an oven, or a microwave to dry your dill.
- Clean. Wash the dill.
- Dry. Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Dehydrator: If you choose to use a dehydrator, carefully lay the dill leaves flat on each layer of the machine. Set the dehydrator on the lowest setting at about 95°F (35°C). Let it run for 3-5 hours.
Oven: If you choose to use an oven, preheat it to 225°F (107°C). Scatter the dill sprigs evenly on a baking parchment. Place it on a baking sheet in the oven for 25-35 minutes.
Microwave: If you choose to use the microwave, place the dill stalks in a bowl. Set the microwave on high and heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Observe. While heating, remember to monitor the dill frequently for signs of burning.
- Compress. Once the dill is crumbly, you may crush it by hand or pound it using a mortar and pestle.
- Shelf life: Store the dill in an airtight jar. If stored in a cool place, it can last for 1-3 years.
This method is helpful for those who live in high-humidity areas. It also reduces the time required to dry your herbs from several weeks of air-drying down to mere hours using appliances.
While heat evaporates the water content of the leaves, it also releases a significant amount of the essential oils which give herbs their flavor .
This method requires electricity consumption for several minutes to hours.
Freezing dill is the best way to maintain the flavour and freshness of the herb. The freezer is a well-known instrument in food storage to keep microbial levels down.
- Wash. Wash your fresh stalks of dill.
- Chop. Cut up the dill into pieces of your desired size.
- Spread. Spread them out and lay them on a flat surface, such as a baking pan. This is done to keep them from freezing into one big clump of dill which will be difficult to separate when you need to take out a small portion for cooking.
- Freeze. Put the baking pan in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
- Transfer. Once frozen into small clumps, you may now transfer the dill into a freezer-safe zipper bag. You may also wrap them in pieces of aluminum foil and press each one flat.
- Shelf Life: If constantly kept at 0°F (-18°C) inside the freezer, the dill should be good for usage for up to one year.
Frozen herbs retain a lot more flavor than dried herbs . The low temperature in the freezer is an effective way to keep microorganisms from fermenting the dill.
You will have to ensure that your freezer’s power supply is constantly functioning.
When you put leaves in the freezer, their water content also freezes and expands against the plant cell walls . As a result, their structure weakens and the dill leaves may feel mushy once you defrost them for use.
To retain its essential oils, you can preserve the dill by freezing it in butter or in oil. It can then be a ready-use ingredient for stir-frying, marinating, and sauce-making.
- Wash. Thoroughly wash the dill.
- Cut. Chop up the dill into tiny pieces.
- Oil: If you choose to preserve dill in oil, scatter the dill sprigs evenly into the compartments of an ice cube tray. Fill the ice cube tray with oil (grape, olive, or any oil of your preference).
Butter: If you choose to preserve dill with butter, mash up the dill sprigs with as much butter as you prefer. Roll them up into balls and place them on a baking pan.
- Freeze. Place the ice cube tray or the baking pan in the freezer.
- Transfer. Once the dill is frozen, you may transfer the cubes or the balls into a reusable zipper bag.
- Shelf Life: Use each cube or each butterball within your convenience. If constantly kept at 0°F (-18°C) inside the freezer, the dill should stay fresh for up to one year.
When you dry or freeze herbs, some of the essential oils inside their leaves are released . To prevent this, you may use oil or butter to trap the essential oils and retain the flavor of the dill.
With this method, you can only use your preserved dill for recipes which include oil or butter. The storage duration is also limited according to the expiration dates of these ingredients.
Originating from an ancient practice before refrigeration was invented, one cheap method to preserve herbs is using salt to keep moisture out and bacterial levels down .
- Wash. Wash your dill.
- Dry. You may use a salad spinner to get rid of excess moisture.
- Cut. Trim off the unwanted stalks. Slice the leaves into fine pieces.
- Salt: For every 2 ounces of chopped dill, mix in an ounce of salt. Make sure to scatter the salt evenly. Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt are preferable because they contain potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other essential minerals. You may also use table salt which contains sodium.
- Store. Store in an airtight container.
- Shelf Life: If kept in a cool place not exceeding 50°F (10°C), the dill should last for 6-8 months.
This is the least time-consuming method. Preserving dill in salt also removes the need to rely on a freezer in case of power outages. Moreover, some people have observed that salted dill retains more color and better texture.
This method limits the number of recipes that you can use your dill on if you don’t intend to add salt to your dish.
A harvest of dill can typically be used for 7-14 days if kept at room temperature . If you only intend to extend its freshness instead of preserving it for long-term use, you can follow the Flower Technique. For this method, you will only need a container, some clean water, and your fridge.
Similar to keeping a bouquet of flowers in a vase, you can also put your dill in a jar of clean water. The base of the stems will absorb the moisture and the dill will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks inside the fridge.
- Clean. Make sure to thoroughly wash your dill because you’ll be keeping this where your food is.
- Cut. Cut the dill stalks into a length which fits inside your fridge. Pluck out the leaves at the bottom part of each stem.
- Container: Place the dill stalks upright in a food-safe jar. Keep the leaves above the lid. To allow airflow, do not overcrowd the jar with dill.
- Water: Pour clean water into the jar, making sure that the water level does not reach up to the leaves to avoid rot.
- Refrigerate. Keep the jar of dill inside the fridge. You may opt to cover it with a plastic bag to prevent too much oxygen from turning the leaves brown.
- Observe. Replace the water every three days to prevent microbial build-up.
As the dill absorbs the water from below, you may notice that the stalks grow taller inside your fridge! The Flower Technique keeps your dill alive so when it’s time to use it in the kitchen, the dill will be as good as a fresh harvest.
Unlike the previously discussed long-term preservation techniques, this method can only keep dill fresh for up to 3 weeks.
Dill is a staple ingredient in Eastern-European cuisine. You can sprinkle it on stews, salads, sandwiches, roasts, among others. Dill is also typically used to prepare sauces, dips, and dressings.
If you ever have an excess of dill sauce, there is no need to throw it away! Instead, you can keep it in the freezer for up to 6 months. However, you will need to take note of the expiry date of each ingredient in the sauce, such as yoghurt for example.
Store the dill sauce in an airtight container in the freezer, making sure to leave some space at the top to account for expansion. When you thaw the dill sauce, the texture may change but the taste is likely to remain the same!
- Fresh dill will last up to 7 days. To extend its freshness to 3 weeks, you can refrigerate it in a jar of water.
- To preserve dill long-term, you can dry it (naturally or using heat appliances). You can also freeze it (on its own or with oil/butter). Additionally, you can use salt to prolong its shelf life.
- Frozen herbs will retain more flavor and aroma compared to dried herbs .
- Dill sauce can be frozen for future use.