Fresh dill has to be one of the cleanest tasting herbs on the planet. I love its bright, sweet flavor and refreshing scent, its deep green color and the tickly texture of its soft feathery fronds brushing against my lips.
Dill is frequently paired with cucumbers, beets or potatoes, often along with vinegar (think pickles) or lemon. Creative chefs the world round add dill to yogurt dips and sauces and use it to enliven recipes featuring eggs (egg salad, omelettes) and fish, particularly cod, trout and salmon. (Kosher salt- and dill-infused gravlax, the delectable raw equivalent of smoked salmon, is one famous example.)
My father taught me to use dried dill in scrambled eggs and I've always adored it chopped fresh in salad dressings and on boiled new potatoes. But lately, I’ve been discovering a new way to enjoy dill, in JUICE! I came up with this idea almost by accident, when a beautiful bunch of dill purchased a few days earlier began calling for consumption from deep within my refrigerator. “Eat me! Eat me now,” the luscious stalks demanded.
Never one to turn my back on such a cry, I complied by feeding the entire bunch into the mouth of my trusty Omega 8005 juicer, along with some carrots, celery, fresh lemon and green apple. The result was dill-ightful, reminding me of the sunny fennel flavor I enjoyed during my Maine Detox without the licorice aftertaste.
Dill is an old herb in the Western tradition. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, as well as southern Russia and parts of western Africa. Both leaf and seed have been long recognized for a variety of healing properties, with references appearing in ancient Egyptian and Greek writings as well as the Bible.
Most often in older texts, dill is considered cleansing and relaxing. The name “dill” is derived from the old Norse word dilla, meaning "to lull," evoking its traditional use as a soothing remedy for sleeplessness and tummy aches. Hippocrates used dill in a mouthwash recipe to provide antiseptic and breath freshening qualities. Dill seeds are regarded highly for helping to dispel intestinal gas. Recent research suggests that potent antioxidant phytochemicals in dill may help to fight ailments as diverse as hypoglycemia, thyroid imbalances and cancer.
Dill contains two primary types of active compounds. These are:
1) monoterpenes (aromatic volatile oils), notably carvone (also found in caraway and spearmint), limonene (also found in lemons), and anethofuran, and
2) flavonoids, including kaempferol and vicenin.
The monoterpenes in dill help support detoxification by inducing the enzyme glutathione S-transferase. They offer potent, cancer-fighting antioxidant potential by activating glutathione, the body’s most important endogenous (self-made) antioxidant. Monoterpenes also function as antibacterial and antifungal agents, helping to keep the body clean and free from microbial foreign invaders.
Flavonoids are generally regarded as heart-healthy antioxidant phytochemicals. Specific attributes are associated with particular flavonoids found in different plants. The flavone vicenin, present in dill, has been shown in studies to help protect cells from radiation damage. Kaempferol, a dill flavonol also present in spinach and broccoli, is suggested to help promote cancer cell apoptosis (programmed cell death) and, additionally, to help protect heart, spinal cord and brain health.
Interestingly, this latter benefit was suggested by the 17th century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper who, centuries before the era of modern clinical research, wrote of dill that: “Mercury hath dominion of this plant, and therefore to be sure it strengthens the brain.”
Dill. Plate 8 from Culpeper's Complete Herbal with The British Florist 1812. Shrewsbury Museums Service. Image sy7060.
Nutritionally, dill is a good source of blood-building iron, collagen-building manganese and bone-building calcium. One tablespoon of dill weed provides about 50 milligrams of calcium!
When you purchase fresh dill, try to use it within three days. Store in the refrigerator as you would fresh flowers (stems trimmed and placed in a glass of filtered water) or wrap it snugly in a damp paper towel and tuck inside a plastic bag with the air gently pressed out.
I can honestly say that the longer I live, the more I love dill. In the words of raw food educator Dan McDonald, the Life Regenerator: “Dill is the bomb diggity.” I couldn’t agree more!
Dill-icious Sweet Veggie Juice
1 head celery
½ - 1 bunch dill weed, stems and fronds
1 lemon, peeled
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 or 2 kale leaves with stems (optional)
Wash and slice ingredients as needed, then feed through your juicer. Alternate apples and lemon with more fibrous celery, dill and carrots to facilitate juicing. I had some leftover kale stems which I used in this juice so I include optional kale in the recipe – I don’t think it is necessary but I can’t help feeling like “the more greens, the better” in general. Makes a tall 16 ounces of juice.
Zheng GQ, Kenney PM, Lam LK. Anethofuran, carvone, and limonene: potential cancer chemopreventive agents from dill weed oil and caraway oil. Planta Med. 1992 Aug;58(4):338-41.
Panda S. The effect of Anethum graveolens L. (dill) on corticosteroid induced diabetes mellitus: involvement of thyroid hormones. Phytother Res. 2008 Dec;22(12):1695-7
Culpeper's Complete Online Herbal. This is a fantastic source for traditional herbal lore. Click here to access.
Click here to watch the entertaining Dan McDonald make his tasty Lemon-Dill Sesame Tahini Dip.