Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Florida Watercress

Did you know that a Florida company dominates the world's watercress market? I had no idea. To be honest, watercress is something I don't have a lot of experience with. It wasn't something we ate in our family and I remember as a child reading about frilly English teas with watercress sandwiches and wondering very much what it was and where I could get some. When I was twelve I made friends with a girl whose mother threw lavish dinner parties complete with cloth napkins, real china, flower arrangments and place cards. One time they invited me to one of these dinners and I distinctly remember my thrill when a watercress salad was served. Even the word watercress is pretty. I certainly didn't know it was grown in Florida. I think I pictured it clustered in clear, bracingly cold northern brooks. That, however, is not the case. Watercress is grown here in Florida, up in Fellsmere where there are no rocky, glacial streams. This revelation has made me very happy, because I like watercress, even without it's snooty associations. Watercress is good and I prefer its delicate taste in salads over the bitter snap of arugula. Coincidentally, last month when we had the BBQ where one neighbor brought us fifteen pounds of dolphin, another neighbor made a spectacular watercress salad. I asked her for the recipe and she said she didn't have one. She just combined the cress with slices of yellow pepper, fennel, red onion and sliced strawberries. She then dressed it with a simple vinaigrette made with strawberry puree, raspberry vinegar, plain yogurt, olive oil and salt and pepper. The combination was unusual and unexpected, definitely wonderful. I highly recommend it and now even more so because the watercress is local (not a hundred mile local, but in-state local which is my current definition for the purposes of this blog).

Here is an article about B & W Quality Growers where the watercress comes from.

Here is an article from Bon Appetit magazine about watercress in general with tips on choosing and storing the greens. This is also where I got the above photograph.

If you would like to purchase watercress, which doesn't appear to have a particular season and is available year round, I see it in Whole Foods' produce section every time I'm in there. Please correct me in a nice way if I'm wrong about the whole watercress not having a season thing. I'm interested in how that works and this is a new, fairly unfamiliar food for me.

If anyone has any favorite watercress recipes or ways that they like to eat it, please share in the comments section.


  1. Good morning and thank you for your reference to B&W. We have a ton more information available on our website, www.watercress.com.
    Watercress is actually seasonal, but we 'follow-the-sun', and grow on seasonal farms. Currently we harvest from our northern summer farms (Alabama, Tennessee, W. Virginia), and we'll return to Florida in mid-October.
    The real story about watercress is it's nutrition and the growing body of evidence that it has a ton of cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals. Human trials in the UK are finding that daily fresh watercress is at least just as effective on preventing the recurrence of breast cancer than the side-effect riddled tomoxaphen, currently being prescribed.
    Check out the nutritional charts that compare watercress to other veggies, and you'll be eating it everyday(check out nutrition on the website).
    Live Longer...Live Better...Eat More Watercress

  2. I recently was suprised to find out that Florida was such a big supplier of watercress.
    I've read that watercress is best here in the months ending with R's.
    Looking forward to learning more and enjoying the tastes and benefits of this wonderful herb.