I’m certainly not talking about colors in the rainbow! White (usually advertised as yellow), brown, and black, these are species of mustard seeds. White is the mildest, followed by brown then black. White and brown are the most common for making the condiment, mustard, which is super easy and allows for tons of creativity. The black variety is used most often in Indian cookery.
I started my mustard making adventure a couple of years ago by diving in head long (as I often do) and ended up making some batches that were, well to put it bluntly, ‘eat your face off’ fiery hot. Seriously, I mean like more fiery hot than straight wasabi – I’m not kidding! Some people like that sort of pain and if you want a quick cure for a stuffy nose some of my initial experiments would have worked wonders.
The intensity of mustard is derived from the chemical reaction that occurs when the seeds come in contact with liquid. Now please bear with me on this next point because what I’m about to tell you is completely counter intuitive. Just go with it… the hotter the liquid used to ‘bloom’ (soak) the seeds the milder the resulting condiment will be. Conversely, for a more intense bite to your mustard use cool or cold liquid. It’s chemistry which without a doubt is really cool, but please don’t ask me to explain it 🙂
The most basic mustard is the stuff served in Chinese restaurants to dip our egg rolls in. It is simply made by adding water to mustard powder. If you mix these two ingredients together you have indeed made mustard! But you can get creative…
I venture to say that there are almost as many variations on mustard as there are stars in the sky. From the addition of nuts and jams to unripe grape juice (verjus) which is used in traditional Dijon style, you can make it your own unique version by adding your favorite herbs and spices. And of course the uses for mustard vary widely too – decorate that hotdog with a bright blast of yellow, add a teaspoon to vinaigrette dressings, use it in marinades for chicken and fish… Mustard isn’t just a versatile condiment or stand alone ingredient either.
It is, by nature, anti-microbial which means that without any additions little critters have a snowballs chance in hell of survival. Add vinegar and salt, which is generally a given when making the condiment, and holy cow the critters are doomed! They dare not even try to invade, and this, my friends, makes mustard a must-have for our apocalyptic larders :-). Besides being a great pantry essential, mustard has medicinal properties.
Mustard aids in digestion and has antiseptic properties. Mustard contains sulfur which has been used to treat skin diseases and when a mustard plaster is applied to the chest it can aid in clearing sinuses and decongest the lungs. Its loaded with selenium and magnesium and has been shown to help severity of asthma, reduce frequency of migraines and lower blood pressure. Wow… natural medicine!
Here are some mustard making basics:
- The approximate ratio is 1:1 mustard seeds to liquid.
- The mustard seeds, once mixed with the liquid, need to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours to “bloom” or soak.
- Use your food processor, immersion blender or other such implement (or not) to grind the mustard to your desired consistency after the “bloom” period.
- Salt and vinegar are flavor enhancers. Add them after the “bloom” period. Generally, 1-2 teaspoons per cup of prepared mustard.
- Mustard, at first, is very bitter, so I really don’t recommend a taste test until after the “bloom” and the addition of at least the salt.
- Mustard without the addition of perishable ingredients can be stored at room temperature.
- The mustard plant is part of the brassica family. Yep, it’s right there with cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
White, brown and black… thanks for visiting Palatable Life.