Herbs & Spices

Mustard is one of the most commonly used spices in the world. Almost every country and cuisine has their own 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. Mustard has been cultivated for thousands of years, it was the primary spice known to Europeans before 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” since, in ancient times, mustard was prepared with grape must or unfermented grape juice. Mustard 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).


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