Monday, June 16, 2008

Garden Journal 6/16/08: The First Fresh Dill of the Year

Quick Comfort Food - Salmon Patties with Garden Scallions & Dill

So what have I been doing for the past nine days besides eating scallions? Dealing with strawberry diseases and potato beetles, clearing weed-choked raised beds, still trying to get more pepper and tomato plants in the ground, wondering if this otherwise much needed late spring rain is ruining my gorgeous garlic crop, repotting my mail order French tarragon plants (which are doing great), and even starting a few heirloom cucumber and summer squash seeds in containers (because there's no unweeded room in the garden for them yet).

Oh yeah, and we've been putting up hay—an enormous, exhausting, sweat-drenched job that takes precedence over everything. It also happens to be one of my least favorite things to do on the farm — yep, I'd rather shovel out the sheep barn than bring in hundreds of bales of hay from the field and stack them in the barn. But it feeds our animals through winter, so it's worth it. At least that's what I keep reminding myself when I can barely get out of bed the next morning.

As for the all garden goings-on, I've been learning a lot, taking plenty of photos, and am hoping to get back to my newly revived regular posting schedule very soon. Meanwhile, a girl's still gotta eat, and last Friday we showcased the first dill from the garden in one of our quick comfort food standbys—salmon patties. These healthy burgers are easy, inexpensive (we use canned wild Alaska salmon) and delicious, and thanks to the dill and our beautiful bounty of scallions, Friday's were the best I've ever made. I'm headed back out into the hayfield now so I don't have a chance to post the recipe yet, but I'm mentioning it because I wanted to make note of the first dill harvest.

The nicest thing about dill—a cold-tolerant annual that is easy to grow from seed and is almost never bothered by pests—is that once you plant it, it almost always comes back year after year on its own. It isn't called 'dill weed' for nothing. I haven't had to buy dill seeds in years.

My only complaint is that my volunteer dill is always ready to pick well before I have any cucumbers, but gardeners getting something for nothing can't be choosy. You can dry your dill, and while the flavor isn't the same as fresh (and I wouldn't recommend using it for homemade pickles), it's a lot tastier than nothing come winter.

So what's your favorite thing to do with dill?

© Copyright 2008, the award-winning blog where we also love adding dill to homemade beer bread and herbed yogurt cheese.


  1. Mmm. Dill.
    We grow a great fernleaf dill at our house that is slow to bolt -- even in a bit of summer heat.

    When our first crop is ready I love a nice borscht made with spring beets and topped with lots of fresh dill and sour cream.

    I also look forward to radish or cucumber raita, served alongside a nice bowl of spicy Indian fare.

    Am making myself positively ravenous just thinking about it.

  2. I have a mild obsession with dill now, an herb that I detested as a child and now can't get enough of. I put copious quantities of it in chicken salad. And our dill is ready now, too, so I'd better go get some chicken.

  3. I've got a recipe that uses both dill and green onions:
    Cucumber and Onion Salad
    3 English cucumbers sliced thinly
    1 bunch green onions sliced diagonally as thinly as possible.
    Marinate this in 1/2 cup white wine vinegar; 1/2 cup sugar; 1 Tablespoon dill; 1 Tablespoon salt; pinch of pepper.
    Lift cucumbers from marinade and serve on lettuce leaves. Garnish with fresh tomatoes if you like.

    I ordered a smoked turkey from Williams Sonoma last Christmas and it was great.

  4. Dill Fav:

    Make yogurt.
    Make rye bread.
    Slice rye bread.
    Slather the slice with yogurt.
    Sprinkle with sea salt.
    Sprinkle with fresh dill.

    My kids love this.

    And I am having dill envy. My two little plants are each under 2 inches tall.


  5. ohhh fresh dill is always the best. Not up here yet though:(
    My mom would always send me out into the garden to collect up the volunteer dill that grew all over the garden. I've made it easier on myself by collecting seeds in fall and planting them in rows or patches in spring. Plus successive plantings means fresh dill all summer long.

    On preserving dill: I have found freezing is way better than drying. Just stuff some into a little baggie or chop it up and freeze it in an ice cube tray. It keeps its flavor way better than dried.

  6. I agree with anonymous, freezing is na exellent way to perserve dill. A friend gave me a large zip lock bag at the end of tomato season to pickle green tomatoes. the dill was great and so are the pickled green tomatoes.
    Great way to use up small green tomatoes when the frost would take them.
    Love your blog. By the way, I'm from Iowa, right now, "The Flooded State." I live about 30 minutes from Cedar Rapids and work there. Keep us in your thoughts nad prayers.

  7. I like to snip in fresh dill when making a vinaigrette for those great spring salads.

    Also favor it in spring frittatas.

  8. My favorite thing to do with dill is dilly beans.

  9. Lovely blog!

    I had a rather short-looking CSA delivery this week, so I traversed the garden, picking "wild" dill bouquets for all my members.

    I really want to mow this weedy area of my garden, but I can't bear to cut down all that dill.

    What do I do with it? Sell it at the farmers market, and puree it with oil and pack it in freezer containers or in metal ice cube trays for my mid-winter borscht.

    Oh, and I make a lovely yogurt-dill-garlic sauce for broiled salmon!

  10. You big tease! I was totally checking those ingredients off in my head as I read them:

    Canned salmon - check
    Scallions - check check
    Fresh dill - CHECK CHECK CHECK

    Woman - you're killing me. The farmshare and the garden are ready for me to make this dish.

    Pretty please post it soon?


  11. I just don't seem to have much luck growing dill. It just grows to a single spindly stem of about 12" then flowers and dies! any tips?

  12. My favorite thing to do with dill also involves salmon - making gravlax.

  13. Those salmon patties look delicious! I can't wait for the recipe.

  14. The salmon patties look delicious. Canned salmon is an item that is often neglected these days. Brings back memories of a wonderful Eastern European dish that my mother used to make with canned salmon, rice, dill, onions, celery, carrots. Everything is cooked up and mixed together, then moulded and covered with puff pastry, brushed with egg (and decorated with the pastry scraps if you're artistic), baked, and then topped with a wonderful dill-flavored white sauce. Makes the humble canned salmon into something quite wonderful and special! I need to go dig up that recipe!

    As to what to do with all the fresh dill--I agree that freezing herbs like that are much preferable to drying. I've never done this with dill, but with tender herbs like basil and cilantro I make a very simple pesto (just pack the blender with the herbs, and drizzle with enough olive oil to make a nice pesto) and whiz up. Freeze flat in ziplock baggies. WIth the basil I usually add a bit of garlic too. This makes a wonderful winter flavoring to things like chili (cilantro)--just drizzle on the top. Or add it to a vinagrette, roast chicken, whatever strikes your fancy. I love getting the taste of these summer herbs in the winter this way.


  15. I love dill in salmon and I love making a cucumber dill sauce. Yum! Because I have such a tendency to grow way too many herbs (dill, basil, mint, and cilantro) I frezze mine in the ice cube trays. Once they are frozen into cubes I transfer the cubes of frozen herbs to a frezzer bag. Then when ever you need some basil or dill just toss it in the dish while cooking. Viola! Fresh herbs in winter. This is my fav Martha Stewart tip. Now I just need a much larger freezer. lol


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

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I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

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