The Cress and Its Types

When we think of salads, lettuce is commonly the vegetable that comes immediately to mind.  But there’s more to salads than just lettuce.  There are other delicious leaves you can use to make salads tasty in a different kind of way.

There’s cress for instance.  This zesty, peppery aquatic herb can add flavour to fresh salads.  But do you know that there’s more than just one type of cress?

Actually, cress is just a common name given to plants of the Mustard family with small leaves.  The cress can be divided into four basic types: watercress, landcress, wintercress and nasturtium.

Watercress

Like its name suggests, this cress type grows naturally in water – in streams, lakes, ditches, brooks.  Watercress is a perennial herb cultivated for its peppery taste that is often used as garnish in salads, sandwiches.

Also known as summer cress, broadleaf cress, Cressida and curly cress, the watercress is often harvested before its tiny white flower buds appear.  Otherwise, the green, dime-size leaves would taste rank.

A cousin of the flower nasturtium, all parts of the watercress can be eaten but most do not eat its stems.

Aside from being used in food, it is also reputed to have a long list of medicinal uses.  It is believed to prevent baldness, strengthens the kidneys, cleanse the blood among others.

It is most often used fresh to retain all of its vitamins, minerals and compounds.  However, cooking them reduces its pungency and produces a milder flavour.

Landcress

Also called upland cress, American cress, Belle Isle cress and scurvy grass, this cress type grows on land and has a shorter life.

It is also grown primarily for use in salads since the beginning of the 17th century and can be substituted when there’s no watercress around as they are similar in taste, but milder.

Landcress is commonly found in the wild with bigger leaves compared to cultivated ones.  They are not allowed to mature but are often harvested when they are still young and small.

Wintercress

Like what its name says, this cress type can tolerate the harsh cold of winter.  It has light leaves similar to feathers and can be found on roadsides or anyplace with clay soil.

Its basic taste is also peppery like its first two relatives, but much stronger and pungent.  It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and can be eaten raw or cooked.

To avoid having wintercress that’s too bitter, they must be harvested when they are still small.  Wintercress are often prepared they way we do collards and turnip greens.

Nasturtium

This non-crucifer cress has been introduced to Europe in the 1600s from Peru.  Although it doesn’t belong to the same family as water and land cress, it has a peppery taste that is quite similar to the other cresses.

It has scarlet, sometimes yellow flowers that give the impression of being non-edible.

There are many different types of cress; watercress (also known as land cress and American cress) a cress.

Tags:

Comments