Dill weed is a delicious and aromatic herb that can add a much-needed boost of flavor to a wide range of recipes in a variety of ways. For example, its seeds are often used to flavor fish, cheese, eggs, vegetables, and meats, while fresh dill leaf is used in potatoes, salads, and soups. It is also a popular choice as a garnish or for pickling with dill vinegar. If you have dill in your herb garden, here is how to harvest dill the right way.
With all of these different potential uses, it’s no wonder that a lot of people enjoy growing dill in their herb gardens. It’s not a bad idea as this self-seeding fresh herb is pretty easy to grow, so both amateur and seasoned gardeners will likely end up with a thriving dill herb patch.
But what about when it’s harvest time? Is dill weed as easy to harvest as it is to grow? Fortunately, it is, as long as you have a little bit of know-how and a sharp pair of scissors.
While we may not be able to provide the scissors (though you can buy a good pair yourself here), we can certainly give you some advice on how to harvest dill successfully in your garden, and even give you some tips on storing it too.
How To Harvest Dill: When Is The Best Time To Harvest?
The best time to harvest dill depends on whether you are looking to harvest the fresh leaves, the dill seed, or both. Let’s begin with the leaves.
When Should I Harvest The Leaves?
While you can technically harvest dill weed leaves at any time during the growing season, you may want to consider picking them just before they begin to flower. Dill leaves tend to be most flavorful at this time because the oil in their leaves is especially potent.
This is true with just about all herbs since the plants begin to focus more of their energy on growing the flowers instead of the leaves, causing them to lose a lot of their flavor and even give off more of a bitter taste. When growing fresh dill, once you see those buds starting to form, then you will know it is time to harvest.
If you want to be able to harvest dill foliage over a longer period, then consider pruning your dill regularly. Regular pruning will help stop your dill plant from flowering and will also encourage them to produce more leaves. This will also allow you to extend your growing and harvest season.
Dill foliage is usually ready for harvest after the dill plant has fully developed about 4 to 5 leaves, which usually occurs sometime between 6 and 8 weeks after they have been planted in the garden. If you’re not sure exactly what they look like, they are the whole, almost feathery, sprigs that you can see growing off of the main stem.
When Should I Harvest Dill Seeds?
While it is best to harvest dill leaves before the plant has flowered, the opposite is true for harvesting dill seeds. You will need to wait until after the dill plant has flowered, which is typically sometime around the 8-week mark, as the seeds form in the flower head.
After you see those flower heads pop up you will still need to wait, as the seeds need to dry and develop before they are ready for harvest. All-in-all, it may be somewhere around 90 days before you can finally get those dill seeds out of your garden.
How To Harvest Dill
If you are growing fresh dill and are sure that your dill leaves and/or seeds are ready to go, choose a dry day and try to get your harvest done early in the morning. For best results, get out there after the morning dew has evaporated but before the temperature begins to get especially hot.
Also, while not necessary, it is a good idea to water your dill plants the day before you plan to harvest their seeds or leaves. This will ensure that your plants are well-hydrated, which will help them recover more quickly. This is especially important if you want to be able to harvest from your plants a few times in a season.
How to Harvest Dill Leaves
To harvest the dill leaves, take your gardening scissors or shears and simply cut or pinch the whole sprig off right at the stem. If you happen to notice any, consider harvesting the older dill leaves first to make sure they are used before they start losing their dill flavor.
Alternatively, if you don’t want or need whole dill leaves at a time, you can just harvest the tips of some of the leaves. Dill tends to be at its most flavorful just after it has been harvested, so it is best not to harvest it all at the same time if it’s not going to be used immediately.
If you are planning on doing a big dill harvest of your patch, then try not to take more than ⅓ to ½ of an individual plant at a time. This will allow them some time to recover their growth until the next time you want to do a harvest.
How to Harvest Dill Seeds
Again, you will need to wait until your dill plants have flowered before you will start to notice dill seeds growing in the buds. The seeds are about 4 to 5mm long, and when they are developed, dried, and ready for harvest, they will start to turn a tan or brown color.
At this point, you can snip off as many seed heads as you like. For best results, first put a paper bag over the seed heads, bending the stem so the seeds won’t fall onto the ground. Then snip them off at the bend in the stem, letting each seed head fall directly into the paper bag. Once you have finished harvesting, dry dill heads by hanging them upside down with the paper bags still around them in a dark, dry, and warm place.
Once the seed heads have dried, you can release all of the seeds by crushing them between your hands. Then, to separate the chaff from the seeds, lightly blow on the seed and herb while they are on a flat surface.
How to Store Dill
There are a few ways to store dill:
- In the fridge. Wrap whole sprigs of dill in a damp paper towel, put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the crisper of your fridge.
- In the freezer. Freeze it either chopped or whole. Put it into a container or plastic bag and pop it in the freezer.
- Dried dill. For drying dill sprigs, clean them and let them dry. Then tie them together and hang them upside down in a dark and warm area until they are crispy and crumbly. You may also use a dehydrator to dry dill. The seeds should already be pretty dry from when you harvested them from the plant, so just let them continue to dry in the upside-down paper bags.
Now go and make your food dill-icious!