Get to Know Mustard!
Freshly made mustard does not have the bright gold color you are used to seeing. Turmeric adds that sunny yellow to the mustard you use on your hot dogs.
More Than the Seeds
While the condiment is made with mustard seeds, other parts of the mustard plant are also edible: greens are used just like spinach, kale, or arugula. Mustard oil can be extracted from the seeds and can be used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
Steeped in History
Having been used by the Chinese, Greeks, and Romans for thousands of years, mustard is one of the world’s oldest spices.
There are over 40 different varieties of mustard plants, but only three are used in standard mustard preparations: yellow, brown, and oriental.
Using Mustard for Cooking
When seasoning dressings, gravies and soups with mustard, take a small amount of the liquid, add the mustard and stir before returning to the dressing, soup or gravy. This will ensure that the mustard liquefies totally.
The “Heat” in Mustard
In general the mustard’s heat depends on the mustard seed. Initially, mustard seeds are tasteless and odorless. The yellow mustard seed provides less heat than the brown mustard seed, which contains more allyl mustard oil.
An Eternal Condiment
Mustard never spoils! At its most basic mustard can be made with ground or milled mustard seed & cold water. Add vinegar & salt to preserve it and presto! Open containers should definitely be kept in the refrigerator, however. This is especially important with hot mustard, since it loses its flavor and heat in warm storage conditions.
There is more to the production of a good mustard then grinding-up some seeds.
It takes many steps – sometimes time-consuming steps until your mustard makes it to the grocery store.
After the mustard plant develops its pods, the seeds are harvested. Then there are 10 steps, to the traditional production:
After the mustard seeds arrive from the farmer/supplier, the seeds get cleaned.
An initial sifting process separates the tiny mustard seeds (1-2 millimeter diameter) from stems and small rocks.
This is where the seeds are separated from any remaining dirt, husks and other impurities.
Rollers are used to crush the seeds, to turn them into mustard meal or mustard flour.
At this time salt, vinegar and other seasonings (depending on coarse or fine ground) are now added. Depending on the type of mustard seed used, this is where the individual character of the mustard is develops.
The mixture has to now soak a while, during this time the mustards aroma develops. This is similar to the development of the “bouquet” in wine production.
By the way:
Mustard seeds are basically odorless. The aromatic smell and heat develops only throughout during milling process and when coming in contact with liquids.
The mixture is now ground for a second time, so the oily mustard meal and all liquid ingredients are evenly combined. Here is where the mustard obtains its creamy consistency.
Afterwards, the mustard is then transferred into large vats. Here it will age according to recipe until it reaches its final desired flavor.
The mustard is then mechanically packaged, either in pouches, tubes, cups, glass jars, or buckets.
After production is finished the mustard is then delivered to the retailer, ready for sale.
Know Your Mustards
Yellow or Medium Hot Mustard
This is the number one product on grocery shelves, and is often called deli or table mustard. Made with mostly yellow mustard seeds, wine vinegar or brandy vinegar, salt and seasonings, it is best served with cold cut sandwiches and hot dogs.
Produced according to the Dijon method, hot mustard consists of mostly brown mustard seed. Allyl mustard oil, which is released during the grinding process, gives the mustard the desired heat. Good with fatty dishes, it is also used to spice up fish dishes, and for dips and gravies.
Sweet mustard differs in appearance because the seeds are coarsely ground. Sugar and heating during processing gives it a lovely sweet caramelized taste. This sweet mustards goes best with the Bavarian white sausages, a hearty bread, meatloaf, and baked pretzels.
Coarsely Ground Mustard
Made of coarsely ground seeds and with a spicy sharp flavor, coarse ground mustard is best suitable for cooking with meat and fish dishes and making dressings and gravies.