Watercress is a semi-aquatic plant often used in salads, wraps or as an edible garnish. The small, peppery-flavored leaves are a good source of antioxidants and contain iron, folic acid and vitamins C and A. Store watercress properly to keep it crisp and fresh and to minimize loss of flavor and nutrients.
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The better the quality of the watercress to start with, the longer the freshness can be maintained. Select bunches that show no signs of wilting, and avoid those with bruised, torn leaves or crushed stems. Watercress has a bright green color and firm stems at its peak. The leaves begin to darken and the stems become limp as it declines. A slimy texture on the leaves or stems indicates that the leaves are beginning to spoil.
A few bruised or inferior leaves usually make it into the bunch since watercress is typically sold in hard-to-sort-through bundles. Examine the leaves prior to storage, removing any that are discolored or limp. Rinse the watercress briefly in water to remove any soil and contaminants before storage, and dry the leaves thoroughly to prevent quick decline in the refrigerator.
The vegetable crisper drawer provides an optimum storage area for watercress and other leafy greens, as high humidity may cause watercress to wilt or spoil prematurely. Leave the bag slightly open to allow any residual moisture to escape. The towels absorb excess liquid while leaving the bag slightly open allows any residual moisture to escape. Storing the watercress in this fashion will allow it to maintain its quality for about three days.
Watercress also benefits from storage in water. While the leaves do best when kept dry, the stems remain firm if allowed to take in water during storage. Store your watercress in a glass of water to extend the storage time for up to five days, recommends bonappetit.com. Submerge only the stems in water, with the leaves loosely covered with a plastic bag. Replace the water daily or if it begins to discolor.