Home

Spinach

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Swiss Chard

Bok Choy

Chicory

Watercress

Lettuce

Endive

Kale

Vegetables

 

 

Name:

Watercress

 

Fact Sheet

Family

Brassica

Availability:

Year round

Character:

Watercress leaves have a zippy, peppery flavour which comes from benzyl mustard oil in the leaves.

Use:

It's great in sandwiches, soups, salads, and makes a great garnish -- adding just as much colour and far more interest than parsley.

Quality Points:

In supermarkets, Watercress has its top leaves wrapped in plastic and its roots in a container of water. In markets, it will be sold in bunches. Look for dark green leaves.

Storage:

Refrigerate in plastic bags. Use promptly.

Preparation:

Use both the leaves and the stems; just give the stems a light trim

Cooking Method:

Watercress shouldn't be dried or cooked as all flavour is lost. Generally, you add it last to cooked dishes to preserve the zing, but some soup recipes will have you cook it longer to mellow the taste

History:

The Greeks and Romans used Watercress. The Romans thought it gave you a clear mind for decision-making. In Europe, it was one of the few fresh greens available in the wintertime. By 1808, commercial cultivation began in England as demand outstripped supply in the wild. In England, Hampshire came to be and still is the centre of Watercress cultivation.

The rail line carrying Watercress to the markets in London was called The Watercress Line. It was shut down in 1973, being replaced by refrigerated trucks.

There were so many superstitions around Watercress because even though people couldn't do nutritional analyses of it, they could see the beneficial results. Even the Victorians held on to a superstition about Watercress: they thought it would cure freckles, hiccups and toothache.

Nutrition:

Ounce for ounce, Watercress has more vitamin C than oranges, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and 150% more folic acid than broccoli. High in vitamins A, B, C, folic acid, iron, calcium, potassium and antioxidants

Comment:

 Watercress is a perennial plant that grows in wet places such as wet meadows, ditches, flat river banks, streams, and springs. It prefers water that is slow-moving: it won't grow in fast water, and it won't grow in still water as it needs cleaner water. Commercial cultivation ensures that it has a constant flow of pure water, so that it doesn't absorb any impurities or pollution. If you are harvesting it in the wild, don't confuse it with "fool's cress", which has toothed leaves that are longer and paler than Watercress leaves -- it's poisonous.