Newest Review: ... shoots are commonly used in sandwiches with boiled eggs, mayonnaise and salt. Cress is a great herb, as it grows so quickly and it is a... more
Your eggs will thank you
Member Name: Stewwydablue
Advantages: Can be grown all year round indoors on a windowsill
Disadvantages: Be careful where the seeds go, it can grow on a carpet!
Cress is probably one of the first things most people ever grow. Most of us will probably remember the project at school where cress was grown on a damp piece of paper towel, as if by magic almost overnight. For some, the green fingered bug is caught at this time and returned to in adulthood when there is the privilege of having a house with a garden. For others, the only time they'll ever come across cress again is those flecks of slightly peppery green stuff mixed in to an egg sandwich bought for the office lunch break.
It couldn't be easier. You don't need a garden, or even soil. All you need is the seeds (which are as easy to buy as sticks of rock in Blackpool, and considerably cheaper too), some water, a tray or container that won't leak (yoghurt pots are ideal) and either some damp kitchen towel or damp cotton wool. Put the seeds on top of the medium (either the kitchen towel or cotton wool), spray with water then sit back and let nature surprise you. If your house is quite dry, you may need to re-apply some water the next day just to keep them damp. When the seedlings are about an inch and a half high, it's ready to start snipping off and using.
Thinking outside the box as a way to entertain them and get your kids interested in gardening, you could carefully cut the top off an egg, rinse it out, fill with damp cotton wool then place the seeds on top and grow as an "egg head". As a younger lad serving with the Army, we would break into people's rooms who had gone home for the weekend, wet the carpet then add the cress seeds. By the time they returned to camp in the small hours of Monday morning, there would be a lovely little jungle on the floor waiting for them. It's an old one, but the old ones are the best.
Types of cress
Surprisingly, there are a few different types. The typical sort of cress that springs to mind (as described above) is known as garden cress, but there is also watercress, winter, meadow, American, Australian and Brazilian cress. Something to remember about watercress though - you should be very careful where you pick it from in the wild - if the water contains harmful bacteria (for example from cattle poo) then this could make you poorly. It's safest to buy watercress that has been grown commercially rather than forage for your own in the wild.
The obvious choice would be to mix it in with egg mayonnaise and have as a sandwich filling. To be honest, I'd say that the only restriction on using cress is your own imagination - if you've got some cress growing on the kitchen windowsill, use it a topping on all sorts of stuff. I wouldn't recommend it as a topping for ice cream though! It works very well with cheese on toast and tossed into salads to give a little bit of spice to bland, watery lettuce. I nearly always eat it uncooked, it doesn't hold it's taste very well if cremated in a pan or oven. However, it does hold up quite well when I've added it into frittatas, and of course some gets sprinkled on the top after the frittata has been cooked. I'd be interested to read your comments if any of you have an interesting use for cress in certain recipes.
An edible small plant that doesn't even need soil to grow - even those with the most un-greenest of fingers can grow cress and enjoy the difference it brings to salads etc. For it's easiness to grow, cheapness to buy as seeds and versatility in the kitchen, it gets five out of five stars from me. Thanks for reading.
Summary: Adds a peppery bite to most things, very easy to grow