Season for Watercress Available Year Round
As its name suggests, watercress grows in freshwater springs, often found in the wild around running streams and babbling brooks. A member of the mustard family, watercress is perhaps the most robust of all the salad fixings with a pungent flavor that is both slightly bitter and peppery, a small handful adding oomph to any salad in need of a pick-me-up. With its bright green leaves, watercress makes for a popular garnish, pairing well with gamey meats, eggs and citrus.
How to Buy and Store Watercress
When searching for the best little bouquet of watercress, seek out freshness. Choose those with crisp leaves and a deep, vibrant color. The larger and darker the leaves, the better. Be sure to avoid any and all signs of wilting or yellowing. Watercress can be refrigerated where it will keep for several days. You can either wrap it or place it stem-side down in a glass of water and cover it, where it might hold on a couple extra days.
How to Cook Watercress
First off: Wash and shake dry your watercress. Scan your greens for any yellow leaves and remove them, as well as thick stalks which can be too coarse to chomp on. Small sprigs are okay though, and are great added to salads. Aside from salads, watercress can be addded to sandwiches, soups and a variety of cooked dishes. Forego your usual garnish, and use watercress instead for a decidedly different flavor. When using watercress in soups, you can either blend watercress raw or cook briefly in stock, milk or water. Keep in mind: Cooking destroys some of its nutrientsm but cooked watercress has a less harsh and more pleasant flavor. You decide.
Health Benefits of Watercress
Watercress is considered a superfood by some... and a weed by others. It contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. But many of its benefits are said to come from its array of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Watercress is thought to be a stimulant, a diuretic, an expectorant and a digestive aid. Owing to a high iodine content, it can have a strengthening effect on the thyroid gland, making it beneficial to hypothyroidism. It also appears to have antiangiogenic cancer-suppressing properties, helping to fend off lung cancer. A 2010 study conducted by the University of Southampton found that consumption of watercress may also inhibit the growth of breast cancer. Go watercress!
Why Buy Natural and Organic Watercress
To ensure you are getting the safest and healthiest watercress, purchase that which has been organically cultivated. Even bettter, grow your own, that is if you leave near a clean stream. Start by planting the seeds indoors and then transplanting the seedlings into the shallowest part of a gently flowing creek. Harvest the leaves when young and tender for the best taste.