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The Watercress Company

The Watercress Company

You can’t get much more British than watercress grown in beds fed by spring water that has filtered down through the chalk of the South Downs over thousands of years, feeding the crop with minerals and vitamins.This unique and highly niche crop has been cultivated in the UK since the 1850s and was more than likely harvested from wild fresh water streams for millennia before that.The Watercress Company has been growing this peppery leaf since 1894 and has beds in Hampshire and Dorset, the UK heartland for watercress.

Traditionally watercress was harvested in winter when the crop was bronze and more adept to coping with the harsh winter conditions. That cultivar died out and was slowly replaced with a green variety that was more suited to a summer production period. This is what we refer to as watercress today.

UK farmers produce watercress throughout the year, but UK watercress is more available in the summer months than in the winter.At this time, UK supermarket shelves and restaurants are supplemented by watercress grown in beds overseas, but which have been set up and run by UK farmers so effectively even Spanish or US grown watercress is British.

Watercress is one of the healthiest produce available.It is a fantastic source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese to name a few; watercress contains over 50 vital vitamins and minerals!

Generally eaten raw, watercress in fact has many culinary uses; just remember that when cooked it needs to be treated as gently as possible. Stir it into soup, use it in a stir-fry, wilt into pasta or mix into mash but it’s essential not to damage the enzymes which, when activated by chewing produce an array of different Isothiocyanates (ITC’s) that are proven to have cancer fighting properties.

Watercress is best consumed as fresh as possible, so buy it regularly, not in bulk, and store it in the fridge to keep it as cool as possible.