I've read that early immigrants to our country reportedly combed the hillsides every spring for the first signs of it. The taste, to me, is similar to a radish if not picked early enough. Many find it free on their property growing in and around water. And some grow it on a large scale. It is well-suited to hydroponics but that process wouldn't be free, so I'm so glad watercress grows here on its own.
Watercress doesn't keep, once picked, for very long. So pick only as needed. Also, it contains iron, folic acid, calcium, and vitamins A and C.
According to Wikipedia, New Market, Alabama was known as the "Watercress Capital of the World" in the 1940's...I didn't know that! Wikipedia also tells of an English surgeon, by the name of John Woodall, who suggested using watercress as a remedy for scurvy (because of Vitamin C content). And did you know it is also high in iodine and many health benefits are claimed? But best of all, it can be grown at home and many may find it growing prolifically around their wet areas for free:) Or perhaps you could introduce some to your property??
We've gathered basket fulls since early spring and sauteed it in butter and added garlic, just as we cook kale. We sometimes add a bit of parmasean cheese, and we've been experimenting with using watercress as we would frozen spinach in our lasagna. It's also good when used as a salad green, but the sooner picked the better it is.
Another good thing about watercress is that the more you harvest it the more it grows back (thanks for telling me, Vicki). Anything we can get off the grocery list is exciting, so we'll definitely be experimenting with this wonderful green again and again.
And do you know who else really enjoys it around here? Judson's Duck Duck and Goose Goose! They're often seen foraging around the property, and watercress seems to be one of their favorite green things (as well as green tomatoes). I'm just glad they aren't aware of the more plentiful patches located on the homeplace! Have you any favorite recipes using watercress or other naturally growing free foods?