By Emi Suzuki
Sumida Farm has nourished the community for 93+ years with watercress grown in the freshwater springs of the Kalauao. The pure, cold Kalauao Springs our watercress grows in is what make it so unique and unlike any you will find on the island or in the world.
One of the greatest challenges with watercress is preserving it; we work hard to ensure it is as fresh as the day we harvested it when you take it home to your family. Thanks to a vacuum cooling system that pulls out the heat and excess water from the watercress we are able to prolong the shelf life of our watercress; however, if the watercress is not handled correctly, the shelf life can be reduced greatly.
Before determining the best way to care for your watercress you must first answer the following questions. How soon will you eat the watercress? What are the conditions for storing your watercress (temperature/humidity)?
Bringing your watercress home
When you bring your watercress home, immediately place it in the crisper of your refrigerator. Heat is not the best friend of watercress, keeping the watercress cold will maintain the freshness. When storing your watercress in the refrigerator the back of the fridge is always the coldest, so make sure to point the leaves of the watercress towards you and the stems towards the back. If your fridge runs cold and the leaves are pointing to the back sometimes they can become frozen which changes the texture and flavor of the watercress.
We recommend wrapping the watercress in a damp paper towel and storing it in a plastic bag or air tight container. Before serving, we always recommend washing the watercress and then placing it in an ice bath for 15-30 minutes to bring the watercress back to life.
When we vacuum chill the watercress, excess water is removed to quickly cool the watercress and prolong its life, but with a quick and easy ice bath the watercress will be rejuvenated. This process will shorten the shelf life of the watercress to around 2-4 days, so be sure to enjoy the watercress right away.
Traveling with your watercress
We often take watercress with us when we travel as omiyage (gifts for friends and family--and yes, you are allowed to travel outside Hawai'i with watercress!). We have been known to revive our 2 week+ old watercress with an ice bath in the refrigerator overnight. When traveling with your watercress we recommend you wrap and pack the watercress in a cooler bag with an ice pack, but avoid freezing the watercress.
For any of the islands' restaurants who serve our watercress to your guests, we recommend you keep the watercress in the butcher paper wrap it's delivered in and to keep it refrigerated. Rehydrate per bunch as needed by soaking for 30 minutes in ice water. You can also remove the butcher paper and place the watercress in a large pot filled with water 1/3rd of the way up the stalks. Keep the watercress in the walk-in fridge and change the water every 2-3 days. This process allows the watercress to be usable immediately after removing from the fridge and retains a relatively similar shelf life of around one week.
All parts of our watercress are nutritious and delicious. Do not feel the urge to chop and throw away the stems! We actually prefer them for the fresh crunch only Sumida Farm watercress can provide. We hope you enjoy your Sumida Farm watercress and let us know how you keep your watercress fresh at home!