A Favorite Herb
Dill seed is one of the many herbs I harvest. It is a messy process. And time consuming. Dill heads that are not totally dry need to be hung upside down in a paper bag. If you do not use the bag, seeds drop all over the ground.
A secondary method is to allow the seed to dry on the stalk. This is possible if you live in a very dry climate or are encountering a lengthy dry spell.
Harvesting dill seed is labor intensive, much like coriander seed. Perhaps commercial growers have machines. But this hobby herbalist does not. While some herbs such as sage and basil can be hung to dry then crumbled as needed, dill takes more work. A lot more!
First separate the seeds from the umbels. This part of the plant is shaped like an umbrella and holds the yellow gold flowers which then produce the seed. If you have used the bag method some seeds may have dropped to the bottom of the bag. But often the heads still contain seed.
After separating the seed from the umbels, the cleaning process begins. But NO Washing! Water may cause germination.
Cleaning dill seed is much like cleaning grains by hand. Sifters and colanders are needed. Wind or fans can help too.
Sifters with graduated-sized screens
Processing the Dill Seed
Seeds saved for sowing in the garden next year can simply sort into an envelope or other seed storing container. However, dill seed to use in cooking requires cleaning the chaff. This outer cover of the seed is not desirable for consumption. It is a multi-stepped process to separate the seed from the chaff.
A warning- the process can be messy. Furthermore, working outdoors can result in a forest of dill next year.
I first use a colander to separate the largest of the stems from the seed material. Then I use a larger mesh sifter or sieve and shake down into a smaller meshed sifter. The lighter, smaller chaff passes through. Mostly seed remains.
An alternative method uses a light breeze outdoors or a fan indoors. The seed can be sifted back and forth utilizing the moving air to shake the chaff off the seed. Occasionally seed will also blow out/away. Indoors can get messy.
Harvesting edible dill seed is time consuming. Saving dill seed for growing next year is so much easier. However, I do like to have dill seed on hand for both winter soups and breads. So, I will take the time to at least harvest enough to fill a small spice jar. Now you know why spices are so expensive in the grocery store.