How to Store Watercress (fresh, fridge, frozen)

Watercress is an edible plant with a bitter and spicy taste like mustard. You can eat it raw in salads and sandwiches or cooked in soups, sautéed, and stewed. That versatility can make you wonder, how do we store watercress?

Watercress is composed of 93% water, so store it in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. I do not advise you to freeze it, although you can do it for 3 to 4 months.

Store Watercress

Keep reading if you want to know how to store watercress most appropriately.

How to choose good watercress

If you want to preserve the watercress you buy lasts as long as possible, you should choose fresher ones, that is, watercress with leaves in good condition and completely green.

If you notice that the leaves are wilting or that they begin to acquire a yellow hue, do not buy them. Also, check the condition of the stems, which should be firm. 

Nor should you choose watercress with torn or pierced leaves since they will not last long in these conditions. 

If the watercress pack is in the discount section of the store, keep in mind that they are about to wither.

How to keep watercress in the fridge

There are two ways you can apply to store watercress in the fridge:

Store watercress in a moistened towel

You can apply this if the leaves of watercress do not have a stem (at least not much), such as those that come in bags; then, you will proceed as follows:

  • Step 1: Wash the watercress.

Carefully wash the watercress with water to remove any traces of dirt and remove leaves in bad condition. Then, let them drain for a few minutes in the colander.

  • Step 2: Wrap a bunch of watercress with a damp towel.

Place a bunch of watercress on a dampened paper towel (you can also use a clean, damp kitchen towel), and wrap carefully so as not to squeeze too much.

  • Step 3: Bag the watercress.

Then, put the bunch of watercress wrapped in a standard plastic bag, but not tied tightly, so the watercress continues breathing. You can make a couple of small holes in it. 

Although you could also place it in a container and cover it with a dry towel or a non-airtight lid.

  • Step 4: Store the watercress in the fridge.

Then, place the watercress in the coldest part of your refrigerator. The watercress can be in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Store watercress in water

This alternative is in case you have bought watercress with a long stem, so you can treat them as if they were a bouquet of flowers as follows:

  • Step 1: Add water to an elongated container.

You can use a small vase or glass long and fill it with water to cover three-quarters of the stems of the watercress. It is essential that water does not touch the leaves.

You can tie the watercress with a garter or rope to keep them in the “vase.”

  • Step 2: Cover the watercress leaves with a bag.

To protect the leaves a little from watercress around the fridge, cover them with a paper or plastic bag that has some small gaps. The bag should not squeeze the leaves. 

  • Step 3: Store the watercress in the refrigerator.

Now place the “vase” in an area where it fits, so you can also keep the watercress for 3 to 5 days refrigerated.

Can watercress be frozen?

Watercress should not be frozen since it is mainly water; when it thaws, it will be something similar to a porridge, and its flavor will decrease considerably. 

However, if you do not want to waste anything and you plan to use watercress for a soup or stew (check my guide about how to store stew or keep soup for longer here), you can freeze it as follows:

  • Step 1: Wash the watercress.

Carefully wash the watercress leaves, drain them well, and dry them with absorbent paper.

  • Step 2: Prepare a tray.

Place parchment paper, wax paper, or a nonstick sheet on a tray, then spread the watercress so they do not get crowded. 

  • Step 3: Perform the first freezing of watercress.

Put the tray in the freezer for an hour or two until the watercress freezes completely.

  • Step 4: Transfer the watercress to an airtight container.

The container must be resistant to the freezer, although you can also use an airtight bag to freeze.

  • Step 5: Tag.

Label the storage date of the watercress and then stick it on the container.

  • Step 6: Store the watercress in the freezer.

In this way, the watercress can be frozen for 3 to 4 months. You cannot defrost it. You must cook it directly frozen; otherwise, it will become a porridge, and you will not be able to use it.

You can also use fresh watercress and make a soup and then freeze it in ice cubes, or you can prepare a pesto and freeze it during the same 3 or 4 months.

How to preserve pre-washed watercress?

It is common to find in supermarket packaging with pre-washed watercress, which is easy to maintain since you can leave it in its bag and refrigerate it for 3 or 5 days.

Once you uncover the packaging, you must follow the guidelines explained in the previous points. Watercress taken out of the bag will last a maximum of 3 days in the fridge

While the unpacked watercress may be frozen for about three months.

How do you know if the watercress spoiled?

The watercress will spoil if it is wholly withered. In that case, it is not advisable to eat it since its taste will not be pleasant.

If the watercress has black or white spots or lint, it is due to mold, and in this case, I advise you to throw it away since it is no longer safe to eat it.

Finally, if the watercress is very watery and slimy or has a foul smell and taste, do not eat it because its shelf life is over.

How long does watercress last?

Refrigerated watercress3 – 5 days
Frozen watercress3 – 4 months
Unopened and refrigerated pre-washed watercress bag3 – 5 days
Refrigerated pre-washed watercress3 days
Pre-washed and frozen watercress3 months

What is the best way to preserve watercress?

The best way to preserve watercress is to store it in the fridge, either wrapped in a damp towel or in a vase.

I only advise you to freeze watercress if you plan to use it in soups or stews to which you want to add a slight watercress flavor. When the watercress is thawed, not only does it lose its consistency almost entirely, but it loses much of its flavor.

I am done with this post about storing watercress, so check the following posts that may seem attractive.

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