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Pungent, peppery watercress is a strong-flavoured salad leaf. Discover when watercress is in season, and how to store, prepare and cook with it.
With deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, watercress is related to mustard and is one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. It has a pungent, slightly bitter, peppery flavour and is highly nutritious, containing significant amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E. It's sold in either bunches or bags, and is good combined in a salad with milder leaves, or made into soup.
Go for crisp, dark green leaves, with no sign of yellowing or wilting.
Wash and shake dry just before you're about to use it. Both the leaves and stems are edible - just trim off any tough roots.
Watercress is highly perishable, so store it in a perforated bag in the fridge and eat it within a couple of days. Alternatively, treat it like a bunch of flowers and put in a glass of water in the fridge, covering the leaves with a plastic bag – it can last a little longer that way.
In a salad with rocket and orange segments; combine with potatoes in a soup; use in tarts and omelettes; use to make white bread sandwiches or as a garnish for cooked foods such as game.