There are many different types of cress; watercress (also known as land cress and American cress) and thale cress are but two, both of which are soil-grown varieties. However, the cress this Entry is concerned with, is the more common mustard cress.
Mustard cress is a combination of the sprouts of white mustard seeds and cress. It has a spicy peppery taste, and the seeds are available in curly-leafed or plain variety.
Cress, along with the sunflower, is one of the easiest plants to grow, and is ideal for a child's first attempt at plant growing; if they eat what they've grown, it can help encourage a healthy diet as well. Unlike the sunflower, you don't need a garden to grow cress; all you need is a suitable shallow container, a few sheets of kitchen roll, sunlight, preferably a sunny windowsill, and plenty of water. And of course, a packet of cress seeds.
Although cress can be grown at any time of the year, it grows best in sunlight.
Fold a few sheets of kitchen roll to a suitable size to fit in the tray, and place it in the tray.
Using a jug, cup, or other type of vessel, slowly pour some water onto the kitchen roll, until there's enough water for the kitchen roll to be soaked, but not swimming in the water.
Generously, and as evenly as possible, sprinkle the cress seeds over the kitchen roll.
Place the tray in an area, such as on a windowsill, where it will get the most sunlight.
You will need to check and water the seeds daily, to ensure that the kitchen roll does not dry out.
After 12 to 14 days, your cress should be fully grown, approximately two inches tall, and ready to be harvested; this can be done with a sharp pair of scissors.
Once cut, use a sieve to rinse the cress under a cold water tap, shake dry, and store in an air-tight container. After harvesting, the cress is unlikely to keep for more than 48 hours.
The above is the basic method for growing cress and it can be grown in just about anything. For instance, take an empty eggshell that has been broken near one end, leaving most of the eggshell whole. Carefully draw a face on the front, stuff the inside with tissue or cotton wool, repeat on a few eggshells, and stand them in an egg carton. Follow instructions from two through to seven, and you'll end up with a cress egg-head having a bad hair day.
Uses For Cress
Now that you've grown and harvested your cress you'll want to use it while it's still fresh and crisp, and before it goes soft and limp. Using cress as a filler for sandwiches is one option, the ideal cress acommpaniment being egg and mayonnaise. Alternatively you could use it as a garnish to add a splash of green to cold finger food, in a sauce, or as part of a salad or even sprinkled on a hot vegetable stew. Then again, you could be really adventurous, and try making cress soup.