As a kid I used to hate the smell of dill pickles. Too strong.  In those days, for me, catsup was one of the major food groups and salt was an exotic spice.  Years later bride and I began canning preserves for the farmer’s market in Franklin, TN (before they required certified kitchens) and suddenly the taste and fragrance of fresh dill became a gift from Heaven. She dilled pickles, squash, green beans, anything that grew almost. And the jars flew off the table when we offered samples (forbidden now, dammit,  in an open-air market.)

One Saturday a young fellow came by and stopped at our booth. “Dilly beans!” he said. “My grandmother used to make dilly beans!”  He bought 8 jars of memory food.

You would too if you tasted them. I can’t find her recipe, but it was off the Internet or an old family cookbook, I’m not sure which and she’s not with me now to ask. .

So grow dill. It’s such a tall, airy, and beautiful herb, with these elegant umbrel flower heads that make a visual statement in any garden. Dill self-seeds, so start it once and you’re free. Like asparagus, though, once the newbies poke through, mulch well against weeds. It grows in any soil and asks nothing from the gardener except, perhaps, love. Full sun.

 It dries well, but loses a bit of tang. Use it with soups, salads, fish (especially nice), meat (it may be overwhelmed by the meat flavor, it all depends), poultry, eggs and many vegetables, including potatoes.

I love it especially in canning and salads. At the market I sprinkle it in my mesclun mix, among a few other tasties, but mostly just greens, and leave a bag of that open, along with a bag of supermarket salad mix, for customers to inhale. Mine wins every time.

I’m embarrased to say what we charged for it,  but it was along the lines of a very good steak, per oz. And worth it.

Which brings to mind the nice thing about growing and selling your own produce. You might make a dollar, but mostly you make people happy

About lifegrower

Peter V. Fossel has been gardening since he was nine, and has been an organic farmer for the last 20 years. His most recent book, “Organic Farming, Everything You Need to know” was published by Voyageur Press, Minneapolis, 2007. He’s written numerous gardening articles for Organic Gardening, Horticulture, Country Journal, Out Here, and American Profile among others. He was Gardens Manager for The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson in Tennessee before returning to Cape Cod to start his newest organic venture, Swan River Farm in Dennisport, MA.
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3 Responses to Dill

  1. Loved your dill entry! I will try to grow some dill!

  2. Melanie says:

    Dill pickles are a necessity of life! I love growing dill. When nothing else will grow, dill will thrive.

  3. curiositycat says:

    Best soup recipe ever involves beef broth, pork sausage, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and the secret ingredient that makes it wonderful: Dill. Thanks for the entry. Another thing to add to the list.

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