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Watercress 101

Everything you need to know about how to use watercress, including the different varieties, how to store it, nutrition information, and more!

Watercress leaves on a white background

It’s finally spring, which means the watercress is hitting the stands! And as we gear up for our watercress spotlight, let’s learn a bit about this leafy green first.

For those unfamiliar with this veg, watercress is one of the oldest leafy greens us humans have eaten. It’s a water-growing plant that’s in the same family as mustard and cabbage, giving it a distinctly spicy, peppery, pungent flavor.

Watercress leaves in a bowl on a white background

How to Buy Watercress

Similarly to how you would buy spinach or kale, when buying watercress in the grocery look for dark, crisp leaves that are free from bruised or yellow spots.

Types of Watercress

In addition to traditional water cress, there are a few varieties which are nearly interchangeable with it. These are actually different plant species, all differing a bit in flavor and texture.

  • Garden Cress: Spicier flavor, like horse radish.
  • Upland Cress: Thinner stems and more delicate flavor. This variety often comes in plastic bags, with the cress still attached to the roots.
  • Korean Watercress: More crunchy and bitter.

How to Store Watercress

Like most leafy greens, watercress is highly perishable so you should only store it for a couple of days. If you bought it in a bunch, either:

  • Wrap the stems in a damp cloth and cover the leafy end with a plastic bag, or…
  • Place the stems in a glass of water (like we do with parsley) and wrap the leafy ends in a plastic bag

(Both methods of storing watercress should be stored in the fridge).

How to Prepare Watercress

Rinse and pat dry, then cut off the thick parts of the stems. Then you can either saute it for about a minute (as you would spinach), steam it, or eat it raw! Here are a few of our favorite watercress recipes:

Watercress leaves in a bowl on a white background

Watercress Nutrition Information

per 1 cup (34 g)

  • Calories: 4
  • Carbohydrates: 0.4 g
  • Fiber: 0.2 g, 0% Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • 106% DV of Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that allows for activation of enzymes in the clotting cascade, which is responsible for blood clotting. Also builds bone by modifying osteocalcin so that it may bind calcium, thus building the bone matrix.
  • 24% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 21% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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  1. Bonnie says:

    Could you please provide the scientific names of the different plants referred to as watercress? Thanks!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Bonnie! While I can’t be 100% sure, I think it’s Nasturtium officinale. 😀