True to its name, watercress grows in water. wild watercress finds a home in shallow streams, springs, lakes, and ponds, with leaves floating on the water’s surface, anchored to the bottom by a thin root system. cultivated watercress—the kind you’re most likely to see in the store—takes root in a hydroponic greenhouse system and is very similar in taste and appearance to its wild cousin; the two can be used interchangeably. And if you happen to spot red watercress—a regional wild variety that’s now cultivated—that’s interchangeable, too.
In the grocery store, you’ll find watercress in bags or bunches. look for bright green leaves and no signs of yellowing or slimy wet spots. The stems can be thick and wiry (more so with wild watercress).
If serving it raw, trim off any that are too tough for your liking. The stems will become more tender with cooking, but they can still be a bit leggy, so are best served with a knife and fork.
Watercress is highly perishable, and you should plan to use it within two days. Fortunately, FineCooking.com has a number of recipes utilizing watercress, so you’ll have plenty of ways to eat it in a hurry.