Foraging for watercress

Wisconsin Public Radio recently aired a lovely feature in their ongoing “Wisconsin Life” series focused on watercress. As their Tumblr describes, “Carpets of watercress cover many Wisconsin streams and springs in the spring. The tender green leaves are a bright and nutritious taste of the season if you know how and where to find it. Dani Lind and Erika Janik take us watercress hunting in the Driftless area.” Check out the audio story as well as some lovely pictures at Wisconsin Life’s site.

For more on harvesting wild watercress, see this nice article (from 2008, but still fully relevant) by Karen Herzog for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. It features the foraging of UW-Madison paleontology instructor Joe Skulan. As Herzog writes,

Wild watercress any time of year is more flavorful than supermarket watercress, Skulan adds. “It’s like supermarket tomatoes versus ‘real’ tomatoes. There’s no comparison.”

Winter watercress also is curiously fragrant.

“Everything’s more intense in the winter,” explains L’Etoile sous chef Pete Kelly. “Like spinach and cold-weather vegetables, winter watercress tends to be sweeter. It doesn’t look as good as it does in the spring, when it stretches to the light. But it tastes great.”

Stream bank cover and watercress at natural spring near Brooklyn Wildlife Area. Photo by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via Flickr

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