Mustard is made from the seeds of various varieties of mustard plant which are black, brown or white. Mustard plants can be grown all year round, except in areas of extreme cold winters. The plants are fast growing, reaching up to three meters, with bright yellow flowers in the shape of a cross. Mustard seeds are used in cooking and preparing the popular condiment. Mustard seeds have a range of flavours from sweet to hot and pungent. Mustard seeds and oil are a popular ingredient in India cookery particularly fish dishes and chutneys.
Whole, ground or cracked mustard seeds are blended with water, vinegar, wine, spices, and other flavouring ingredients to make a paste. Mustard as a condiment is served with hot and cold meats, in burgers, hotdogs, sausages, sandwiches and as a flavouring ingredient in soups, sauces and as an emulsifier in mayonnaise and salad dressings. Mustard pairs perfectly with boiled eggs, cheese, a spoon added to cheese sauce really lifts the flavour, cauliflower, lentils, onions, dill and tarragon.
The Romans made a version of mustard with grape must or juice. They probably introduced the seed to Dijon in France where perhaps the worlds most famous mustard is made. Acid and heat destroy some of the heat of prepared mustard so ‘hot’ English mustard is made with cold water and milder mustards are prepared with hot water. Prepared mustard has antibacterial properties and so has a long shelf life although it can discolour through oxidisation.
Popular types of Prepared Mustard
Dijon – Dirty yellow in colour Dijon is made with crushed mustard seeds and grape juice or white wine.
English Mustard – English mustard can be bought as a paste or a powder made from a mix of ground mustard seeds, turmeric, and wheat flour and is bright yellow in colour. Made with cold water it is fiery and very pungent and traditionally served with roast beef. English mustard mixed with brown sugar or honey is used to glaze cooked ham or lamb chops
French Mustard –Confusingly French mustard is a popular English variety with a mild, tangy slightly sweet flavour. This dark brown version of the condiment was invented by Colman’s of Norwich and is popularly served with steak.
Mild American Yellow Mustard – Is a very mild, bright yellow version of mustard served with burgers, pretzels, and hotdogs and as a flavouring in potato salad, BBQ sauces, particular those from Carolina and salad dressings. The most recognised variety is French’s.
Wholegrain Mustard – Wholegrain or granary mustard is made from a base mustard blended with whole mustard seeds. The blend of mustard seeds affects the flavour and strength of the finished product. Wholegrain mustard stirred into Béchamel or a white wine sauce base can be served with ham, chicken, and fish.
German Sweet Mustard – Is a speciality mustard from Bavaria similar to wholegrain mustard sweetened with sugar, apple sauce or honey and served with meats and –sausages particularly Weisswurst or white sausage and pretzels.
Flavoured Mustards – There are numerous flavoured mustards available including honey mustard, beer mustard such as mustard made with Guinness, mixed with hot pepper sauce or horseradish and spirits such as whisky and Cognac.