Dill is a popular herb, well known for providing an aromatic taste to pickles. Dill herb is also used in vinegar, salads, fish and other dishes as well. If you are wondering how to cut fresh Dill from plants, you need all the information you can get. Fresh Dill can’t be simply picked from its plant as it needs to be cut properly.
The Proper procedure ensures that the aroma and the flavours of the Dill remain intact. This includes knowing the right time to do so, the material you need and what to do. If you fail to cut the feathery leaves off, you might end up destroying the real flavour.
What Do You Need?
You need to preserve the Dill weed because it loses its flavour over time. Here is what you might need for properly cutting and storing the Dill weed:
- Water (Dill to be watered before harvesting)
- Sharp pair of scissors
- Snipping tool like kukri
Or, if you have been gardening, you can use the normal sized shears as well, which would work just fine.
For drying and preserving the leaves, you would need:
- Paper towel
- Airtight container
- Ice tray
Cutting the Fresh Dill
The first step in cutting fresh dill weed from the plant is to know the right time to do so. Dill is an annual plant, but its leaves can be harvested in any season. Just make sure that the plant has at least 4-5 leaves. It is said that harvesting of Dill leaves should be done when flowers bloom.
It is also believed that best time to do so is when leaves are pale green, still in young. But it is the older leaves that give the flavour and are called Dill weed.
Getting it Ready
Before harvesting the Dill weed, water it the day before. Make sure that the leaves are cleaned properly. Watering hydrates the weed, gives it more flavour and freshness. Moreover, it reduces a step in the pickling procedure. Try not to water the plant immediately before harvesting. Excess moisture in the plant or leaves can lead to wilting. Similarly, avoid watering the plant after the procedure as well.
The best time to cut the leaves is in the morning. You can remove the fresh leaves from the stem with a pair of sharp and clean shears, scissors or kukri. The leaves can also be removed by hands. Here is how to do it-
1. Cutting the Leaves
Cut the leaves off where they join the stem, preferably when the Dill plant is over eight weeks old and has numerous leaves on it. You need to cut the leaves carefully, without harming the main stalk. While snipping, you can cut more than two-thirds of the leaves and leave the rest.
The leaves should not be removed completely. You need to leave some of them still on the main stem if you’d like to see it grow once again. For this, the stalk of the plant should be intact. There is another way you can do it.
Apart from cutting the leaves separately, you can instead go for cutting the entire stalk as well. You would need the best Kukri to cut the stalk 3 inches above the ground. Don’t worry; you will have it re-grown soon enough. This time, you will have the leaves and not the flowers, though.
A word of caution- Do not pluck or prune all the leaves at once. You still need at least 20% of the leaves back on the main stalk. Removing all the leaves at the same time will eventually cause the Dill plant to die or lose its growth ability.
Even though the whole stalk can be removed as well, it is not preferred because the plant takes a lot of time to grow itself back. We recommend that you harvest the leaves on a regular basis. This will allow you to keep the seeds and not allow pollination to take place. The more regularly you harvest or cut the leaves, the better flavour you get at the earliest. The seeds can later be used as seasonings or for growing more Dill.
2. The Flowers
Gently use the shears or pair of scissors to snip the flower head off. You would need to cut it as soon as the flower begins to open. This is to ensure that the flower is unable to pollinate or set seed. If you do not cut the flower off, the plant production stops after seeds set. As the production declines, so does the overall flavour and effect of the Dill leaves.
3. Dead Foliage
Make sure that when you cut leaves, you remove the foliage (dead). The dead foliage should be pruned during the growing season. Do not simply snip it off from the top. Instead, cut the dead foliage completely, from where it joins the healthy stem.
Now once the Dill has been cut, do not water immediately after. However, follow a regular watering routine. The pruned Dill should be watered by you at least twice weekly. You need to fill at most 1 inch of water each time so that the soil beneath half a foot is watered as well. Any re-growing foliage or flowers should also be watered regularly.
You need to use the Dill leaves fresh to ensure appropriate flavour. The exquisite aroma and flavours vanish over the time on exposure to air and moisture. But it is not always viable to get fresh Dill leaves. So we recommend you immediately store and preserve your harvest of fresh Dill leaves by any of the suitable methods-
Simply allow sunlight and air to dry the Dill leaves for a few minutes. Or, you can put them in the microwave by using a paper towel. Run the microwave for two-three minutes on high and immediately store the leaves in an airtight container. Make sure that the leaves have completely dried and are crumbling. Storing them with moisture content can destroy the flavour.
As temperature and moisture can cause the flavour to vanish, you can freeze the Dill leaves as well. Even though it is moisture, you get no exposure to air. You can freeze the Dill leaves by keeping them in a plastic zip bag to be frozen. You can also place Dill leaves in an ice tray and freeze the ice cubes. While preparing dish or pickles, you can simply add the frozen Dill leaf with all the flavour still intact.
We recommend freezing for preservation. You get the flavour to last much longer with freezing.
And that’s how to cut fresh Dill from the plant and preserve it. With this procedure, you will be able to preserve the flavor of the Dill for long. You can take them out for use in pickles, salads or as garnish anytime. All you need to ensure is that each step is followed with necessary care.
So let us know what you think of the procedure or if you have a better way to do so. Even though Dills can be handpicked, we prefer recommending tools for precision. Whether you use fresh Dill or preserve, it is surely worth an addition to your garden. Subscribe to our blog for more updates on planting Dill and harvesting them.