Growing dill in your herb garden this spring and summer? Learning how to save dill seeds is so easy, you’ll never buy dill seeds or plants again! All you need is a little bit of patience and a paper plate. Let’s get started.
Dill seed heads form when the flower heads on dill plants dry out and are no longer useful for harvesting fresh dill leaves. This annual herb is perfect in the garden for a multitude of reasons. It helps attract beneficial insects to the garden, can be used in many recipes like pickles and salad dressings, and the entire plant, leaves and seeds are edible.
This full sun loving annual herb is best started in early spring, but can really be planted anytime in the spring or summer growing season. As the plants gets taller and are exposed to the late summer heat, they’ll begin to bolt, produce flower stalks and then seed heads. While most garden harvesting should be done in the early morning, the best time to harvest dill seed heads in the late afternoon, to guarantee dry conditions.
Why save dill seed?
Dill seed has a variety of uses both in the kitchen and in the garden. In the kitchen dill seed can be a flavorful seasoning for any soups and stews as well as pickled vegetables. Serious Eats has some great suggestions for how to use dill seed in the kitchen. Find their article here. Dill seed is also perfect for long-term storage and use in months when growing dill isn’t feasible.
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In the garden, dill is a wonderful companion plant that can help to keep pests at bay. (See my guide to companion plants.) It’s also an herb that adds a bit of height and whimsy to the garden area.
The delicate fronds of dill are so dainty and lovely that it’s hard not to admire them. The dill itself can be used in pickling as well as fish marinades, compound butters, and potato salad. If you’re nervous to grow dill in the garden because you immediately associate it with the strong flavor of dill pickles, don’t be! Remember that pickles soak in a dill-infused brine for quite a while, so the flavor is much more intense (and there’s vinegar, so…).
Drying out dill plants
The most effective way to save dill seeds is to let the plants themselves dry out in the garden. I won’t say I’m a lazy gardener, but I am practical. If I can save the step of trimming off the dried plant flowers and placing them in a paper bag to dry, then I will.
Let your dill plants produce their beautiful yellow blooms, then simply wait. Your dill plants will be ready to have seeds collected when they are brown and dry to the touch.
Don’t want to wait that long? Once plants have finished blooming, but aren’t yet dried out, cut blooms with a length of stem off of the main stem using a pair of scissors or pruners. Place the blooms in a small paper bag with stems sticking out of the top of the bag. Tie up bag and hang for a week or more until dill is brown and dry in a well-ventilated area.
Any seeds that may fall off the heads while drying will fall to the bottom of the bag, and the paper bag is breathable, so any moisture that may still be present in the seed head shouldn’t ruin your dill seed harvest.
Harvesting dill seed
Once plants are dry, start harvesting the dill seed. Grab a paper plate and one of the dill heads. This is the best way I have found to separate the dill seeds from the seed head.
Use your fingers and begin rubbing the seeds off of the ends of the plant. The seeds should easily come off and land on the paper plate. You’ll hear them hit the plate. Repeat this process with all of your dried dill plants until you’ve gotten all of the seeds onto the plate.
Discard the stems and the remnant of the dill plant in your compost pile. (See my guide on how to start composting!)
How to Store Dill Seed
Before storing, you want to make sure your dill seeds are indeed fully dry dill seeds. If in the process of harvesting, you think there may still be some moisture present, feel free to lay the dill seeds in a single layer on paper towels and allow to sit for a few days. Moisture will wreak havoc on any seeds ability to store well.
Dried dill seed can easily be stored in an airtight container or glass jar with a well fitted lid if you’re going to use them in the kitchen. (I like this spice jar set that includes labels and a funnel.)
For storing to plant more dill plants later, use a simple envelope marked with the seed type and date or use a small plastic container. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to plant the following year.
For more ideas on seed storage, check out my seed storage post.
Ways to Use Harvested Dill Seed
When it comes to utilizing harvested dill seed, the possibilities are endless.
- Add it to soups to give them an extra savory depth
- Mix it into dips and spreads to enhance the flavor (see my recipe for Fresh Dill Dip for veggies)
- Sprinkle it over salads for a bright, crisp finish
- Toast over low heat in a skillet to give meals a nutty, savory flavor
- Dried seeds can also be used to make herbal tea, and because of its carminative properties, it can help soothe digestion.
- Lastly, use dill seed to season pickles and marinades
Learn how to grow dill at home
If you aren’t yet growing dill in your home garden, I have you covered! Here are helpful tutorials to get you started growing dill at home. And while one article does specify growing dill in containers, these steps can also be used for growing in any kind of garden.
Dill is also a valuable companion plant and natural deterrent of garden pests, so even if you don’t love the taste of fresh dill, consider growing it for the seeds and the other values it brings to the garden area!
More seed saving ideas
- How to Save Tomato Seeds– an easy process of saving seeds to use in growing the following year. This saves so much money and hassle trying to find your favorite seeds for sale each year!
- How to Save Basil Seeds– One of my favorite herbs to grow and the seeds are incredibly easy to save.
- How to Save Zinnia Seeds– A garden’s favorite flower also has easy to dry seed heads for blooms year after year
- Paper Plate
- Dill Plant
- Envelope or Plastic Container
- Begin by letting the flower heads on the dill plant dry out. They will be dry when they are brown and "crunchy" to the touch.
- Trim off the seed heads with a bit of stem connected and place on a paper plate.
- Over the paper plate, begin rubbing the ends of the seed heads to release the dill seeds.
- Once all of the seeds are removed, pick out any stems or miscellaneous pieces.
- Store dill seeds in a marked envelope or a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Or place in a glass spice jar for use in the kitchen.
If you don't want to allow the blooms to dry out completely outdoors. Trim them off the plant and place in a paper bag. Let stay in the paper bag until completely dry, then proceed with the instructions for removing the seeds.