Make Homemade Mustard


Mustard is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. Almost every country and cuisine has a history and use for mustard. Most major religions make reference to the tiny mustard seed in their teachings and mustard has even been used for various medicinal purposes throughout history. The mustard seed is a reference for those of Christian faith. It exemplifies something which is small and insignificant, when planted, grows in strength and power. Pope John XXII was so fond of mustard that he created a new position at the Vatican - 'grand moutardier du pape' (mustard-maker to the pope) - he then gave the job to his nephew.

The founder of Colman's Mustard was appointed as mustard-maker to Queen Victoria. He perfected the technique of grinding mustard seeds into a fine powder without creating the heat which brings out the oil. The oil must not be exposed or the flavor will evaporate with the oil.

Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meals for seasoning and to sometimes mask unpleasant flavors. The origin of the word mustard comes from the Latin mustum ardens, which means burning must, in ancient times mustard was prepared with grape must or unfermented grape juice. It is a member of the Brassica genus of vegetables that includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. The volatile components common to these vegetables are mustard oils or isothiocyanates. In the live plant, they are inactive but, when they are broken or cooked the tissues release the oils giving off sharp flavors and odors. These oils range from mild (cauliflower) to very sharp (mustard). In mustard the pungency develops when the seed is broken and then combined with a liquid. This process activates an enzyme called myrosinase which releases mustard oil, giving mustard its sharp taste. Interestingly, myrosinase acts as a natural pesticide for the mustard plant. Prepared mustard is made from three types of mustard seeds: yellow (white Brassica hirta or Sinapis alba), brown (Brassica juncea) and black (Brassica nigra).