When and How to Harvest Dill and How to Freeze It

Learn when and how to harvest dill to make the most of this fragrant, much loved herb.

young dill in garden
Harvest dill when it is young and tender before flower heads have formed.

Watch the Video: How and When to Harvest Dill

Dill is one of those herbs that’s tricky to preserve. The flavor tends to fade quite quickly. I have dried dill in the past, but find no matter what I do, the flavor is gone within a couple of months. Freezing dill is the best option in my opinion.

When to Harvest Dill

The best time to harvest dill is when it is young and tender, before flower heads form. You can even start harvesting dill when it is quite small with only four or five stems growing from the center stalk.

harvest and freeze dill
You can harvest from dill this size. Take the outer large stems and leave the center in tact for more fronds and a continuous harvest.

Here in Winnipeg, I have found end of June, early July a good time to harvest dill. This is when the dill has the most flavour and pests like aphids haven’t moved in yet.

tender young dill in garden
Harvest tender young dill end of June, before it flowers and pests move in.

The best time to pick the fronds or leaves is usually a long time before pickling season. The good news is that dill typically regrows quickly and will send out flower heads in time for pickling season.

If you want to prolong the harvesting season, remove the flower heads as they are forming.

harvest and freeze dill
Remove the flower heads as soon as you notice them to prolong the harvest season. Don’t worry, dill is very hardy and will produce more seed heads in time for pickling season!

Once dill flowers, all the plant’s energy will go towards flower and seed production. At this point, the leaves get lest moisture and they start to get tougher, drier and less flavorful. You’ll find that once the seed heads form, the fern like branches get tough and the tips will start to turn yellow or brown. You definitely want to harvest before then.

harvest and freeze dill
Once the flower heads form, the leaves lose moisture and flavour. Pick before this stage, but leave some for pickling and to collect seeds for dill bread.

Dill flower heads are great for preserving dill pickles, dilled beets, dilly beans, etc. And once the seeds form, they’re great to harvest as well. The seeds can add great dill flavor to things like this Cottage Cheese Dill Bread.

How to Freeze Dill

I prefer to freeze dill when I have an abundance in the garden or extra from the store. I find frozen dill holds its flavor much better than dried dill. Dill dries quickly and beautifully – but it loses it’s flavour within a month. Freezing is a better option for keeping the flavour.

Step 1 – Consider How You Will Use Frozen Dill

It is often recommended to freeze herbs in oil or water to help retain their flavor. That’s great if you’re adding the herb to soups or sauces. But, that’s not how I use dill. Most often, I use chopped dill in salads and fresh dips. For this reason, I prefer to freeze dill once chopped and lightly dried so that I can sprinkled the frozen dill into a fresh recipe.

Step 2 – Wash

Wash dill to remove any dirt or critters that may be stuck to the dill.wash dill to freeze dill

Step 3 – Pat Dry

In order to prevent the dill from clumping when frozen, it’s important to thoroughly dry the dill either before or after cutting. Use either a salad spinner or lay between two clean towels and pat dry.dry dill

Step 4 – Remove tough stems

I’m a little compulsive when it comes to removing the tough stems from herbs. Is that just me or do you like to do that too?

strip dill from stems

Step 5 – Chop

Chop dill to desired size.

chop dill to freeze dill

Step 6 – Freeze

If the dill is dry of surface water and separates nicely, fill small containers or freezer bags and freeze for six months to a year. If it is still quite wet, let the chopped dill dry out for an hour or so before placing in freezer containers. This will help ensure it won’t freeze in one big lump.

Cleaned, patted dry, chopped and ready to freeze.

And that’s it. Pretty easy isn’t it.

Perfect for all your dillicious recipes throughout the year.  Here are some of our favorites that include dill.

Dill and Cottage Cheese Bread
Dill & Feta Flatbread Appetizers
Dillicious Egg Salad
Dill Pickled Beans
Sour Cream and Dill Veggie Dip
Dill White Sauce
Apple & Beet Salad
Tzatziki
Cauliflower and Peas with Dill

cauliflower and peas
Mmm, can’t you just taste that fresh dill with garden peas and cauliflower.

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

Similar Posts

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions! I’ve only used dill a few times before and I end up wasting the leftovers because I don’t know how to store it long-term. I followed these instructions today and I’m looking forward to using dill more often in my recipes.

    1. Your welcome Deepika. I’m like you and don’t like to waste food, glad you found this post helpful.
      All the best,
      Getty

  2. I’ve been freezing chives, garlic scapes and green onions this summer because my CSA box has way more than I can use in a week. I’ve washed and dried them and hen chopped into sort of 1″ pieces and lay them on a 1/4 tray that I use for my quick freezing. When they’re frozen I just drop them in a ziplock bag, push out the air and seal. I’ve frozen fresh curry leaves by just putting them in the bag and then used them in cooking without a problem – they seem just like they’re fresh. I’m wondering if I could do the same with basil?

    1. Basil is super sensitive, it will discolor and turn mushy if you freeze it as is. To keep the color, blanch (drop in boiling water) for 10-15 seconds until it wilts, dry and freeze. That said, I have chopped basil and frozen it – it ends up almost black but you do get the flavor. I prefer drying basil or making pesto – the oil coats it and prevents discoloration for the most part.

  3. I’m also obsessive about removing stalks from my herbs! I usually dry my dill, but I will try freezing it after reading this post. If your dill goes to seed, you can save the seeds and plant them where and when you want them next year.

    1. Good to know I’m not the only one! I allow my dill seed to spread as it wishes, so there’s plenty of dill everywhere in my garden. I also save some of the seed to use in recipes, it is quite flavorful. Hope you enjoy the frozen version.

  4. Since dill does self seed, and pops up everywhere as a weed, I don’t weed it out until it is big enough to harvest some leaves. Wash, dry and package in Ziploc bags, freeze. Tell my friends not to let it thaw, open top of bag, push up frozen dill, cut off with sharp knife, push back in, and re-zip. Only one bag in the freezer!

    1. Hi Dodie, great idea. I usually chop mine before I freeze, but I can see this working – not thawing being key.

  5. Got my own bachelor’s method. I freeze bundles of dill sprigs from the store in a resealable plastic bag. When I need some, I trim off the ends, and sprinkle it on whatever I’m making. Same method works for parsley also.

Comments are closed.