Step up your Game Day—Homemade Mustards



Caricature1From the Herb Lady: Your imagination’s the limit when it comes to making flavored mustards. All you need are mustard seeds or dry mustard powder, and then the seasonings are up to you.

If you are like most people, the word “mustard” probably conjures up images of ballparks and barbeques. Yet, once you add mustard seeds to your spice cabinet, the word will take on a whole new meaning, as you will also relish the spicy, aromatic rustic taste and fragrance that mustard can add to your meals.Learning how to use mustard seed is easy once you know its particular traits!


Mustard seeds or mustard powder? Either works.

Mustard seeds: Use when you want a whole-grain, crunchy texture. The three types are:

  • Mustard Seed

    Mustard Seed

    Yellow, aka white (Sinapis alba), the mildest and used mainly in American-style mustards and for pickling.

  • Brown (Brassica juncea), zestier and used in European-style mustards (like Dijon), for pickling, and in Indian cooking.
  • Black (Brassica nigra), also used in Indian food; they’re interchangeable with the brown.

Seeds need to soften in liquid for 1 to 2 days before you make mustard with them. This curing is very important in order to impart the tastes you recognize as mustard. Crushing the seed with a pestle and mortar will result in larger pieces of cracked mustard, perfect for making deli-style mustards or pickles.

Mustard powder: For silky smooth mustard. It’s nothing more than ground mustard seed, and the most common brand is Colman’s, a blend of white and brown seeds. Mix the powder with liquid (like water or beer) and let it sit overnight to fully hydrate and develop flavor. Don’t let it sit longer, though, or it will taste harsh.

Making Dry Mustard like Coleman’s Dry Powder

Fresh, whole mustard seeds can be ground into dry mustard to use in a variety of dishes. To make a powder, toast your mustard seeds for 20 seconds in a dry skillet. Cool the seeds, then transfer to a spice grinder and pulse until you have a powder. Pass the powder through a sieve to remove the hulls. Blend a pinch or two of turmeric with the mustard to create the bright yellow associated with the condiment. Commercial dry powders also contain flour as a thickener but I have found this is not necessary.

Mustard powder is also a component in several regional spice blends. Indian cuisine’s garam masala combines mustard with coriander, cumin, turmeric, garlic, and peppers to make a mix used for dry cooking and curries. Spice rubs for barbecue sometimes include mustard powder, along with brown sugar, cayenne, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. A bay-style spice blend contains mustard, celery salt, bay leaves, cloves, ginger, allspice, peppers, cardamom, mace and cinnamon and is commonly used when cooking crab.

Releasing Mustard’s Flavor

Mixing mustard with a liquid releases the sharp, pungent aroma and flavors of the spice. Powdered seeds must be mixed with cold liquid. This combination creates a chemical reaction wherein the mustard oil and an enzyme in the seed produce sugar and the irritants that give mustard its spicy taste and feel on the tongue. When mixed with hot water, the chemical reaction produces irritants that create a bitter flavor. Once mixed with vinegar or salt, the cold-mixed mustard’s flavor stabilizes pleasantly.

Homemade Mustard Tips

  • Sterilize your jars in hot soapy water or the dishwasher.
  • If you want to prolong the shelf life of your mustard, do not use fresh herbs, onions, eggs, etc. But if you will be storing the mustard in the fridge and consuming within a few weeks, add just about anything that suits your fancy!
  • Do not use bowls or utensils made of materials that will react with the mustard, such as aluminum, plastic, copper or cast iron. These materials will leave your mustard with an off taste and the mustard mixture may damage your kitchenware. Use nonreactive items such as stainless steel, glass, etc.
  • If your mustard turns out too thick, thin with a little water or other liquid
  • Allow the flavors to blend and mellow for a few days before making too many adjustments or tossing! You will be surprised how much it changes over time.

Suggestions for Mustard Recipe Ingredients

  • For the liquid – dark beer, ale, red wine, sweet wine, flavored vinegars, apple cider vinegar, pure cranberry juice, lemon (or lime) and water, just water.
  • For spices – salt, pepper, turmeric, allspice, dill, ginger, sage, horseradish, chili powder, Tabasco, maybe even a little liquid smoke !!! You can combine just about anything for your own unique mustards.
  • For Sweetness – honey, molasses, maple syrup, or sugar.
  • Perishable items – (for mustards that will be refrigerated and consumed within a few weeks) minced onion or shallots, blueberries, raspberries, eggs, fresh herbs, fresh minced peppers, lemon (or lime) zest.

Working with Mustard Seeds

Brassica_juncea_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-168

Brassica juncea, Hermann Adolf Köhler (1834 – 1879)

A word of warning: Keep your distance when grinding the seeds. The substance that makes mustard hot—allyl-isothiocyanate—will irritate your eyes and nose if you get too close. When mustard seeds are crushed and mixed with water, they release volatile oils which act like capsai­cin, the hot component of chile peppers.

Freshly prepared mustard is the hottest and most pungent, and typically you need to allow mustard to age for at least a couple of weeks. You can easily manipulate the firepower of your mustard by adjusting heat, cold, and time. Heat tempers the spiciness, while cold preserves it. Time mellows mustard, though mellowing is slowed by refrigeration.

For maximum heat, mix the ingredients, place in sterile jars, cover tightly, and refrigerate immediately. A slice of lemon placed on top of the mustard in a jar will help preserve the kick. The mildest mustards are those that are cooked, then allowed to age. This is why many recipes that call for the addition of mustard to a sauce will direct you to add it at the last minute, because longer cooking will destroy its pungency.

Seeds can be ground partially or fully for prepared mustard recipes, or added to beets, cucumbers (fresh and pickled), green tomatoes, snap beans, cabbage, cole slaw, pickled onions, sauerkraut, relishes, chutneys, and homemade sausages. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of mustard seeds to the cooking water for broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage to enhance flavor.

Use dry mustard as a base for prepared mustard, or add to mayonnaise, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, meatballs, or pâtés. Mustard will stabilize and bind food and emulsions; i.e., it will keep a hollandaise sauce or mayonnaise from breaking.

About ten mustard flowers yield 1⁄4 cup seeds, which in turn yields 1 cup prepared mustard; two or three plants will provide you with this.

The longer mustard sits, the more liquid the ground seeds will absorb, up to seven times their weight. Add liquid as necessary to get the consistency you like.

For even more variety, add a tablespoon of any of the following to each cup of prepared mustard: horseradish, minced chile peppers, capers, minced sun-dried tomatoes, grated fruit peel, chopped pickle, or minced fresh dill, basil, sage, mint, or thyme.

Mustard Collage

Recipes

 Rosemary Thyme Mustard

Makes 1 cup

A thick, creamy, and intensely herby mustard that’s delicious rubbed onto roasts (especially chicken, pork, and lamb) before cooking. You can also dollop a little into stews—both meat and vegetarian—about halfway through cooking.

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
3 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, divided
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Stir together mustard seeds, 2 teaspoons thyme, rosemary, water, and the vinegar in a bowl until seeds are submerged. Let sit at room temperature, covered, 2 to 3 days.
  2. Put mustard mixture in a blender along with brown sugar and salt and blend until mixture is thick but still coarse-textured. Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon thyme.
  3. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled before using.

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Ancient Roman Mustard

Makes about 2 cups

The Romans are the first to be credited with making mustard in the way we know it today. Earlier civilizations, notably China and Egypt, used mustard seeds whole as spices. This recipe is adapted from Apicius, and it is about 2,000 years old.

The result is a heady mustard —black mustard seeds are stronger than normal American mustard — balanced by the richness of the nuts. It’s almost like a peanut butter-mustard mix, with a little vinegar tossed in. It is excellent with roasted or cold meats.

1 cup black or brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, chopped
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2-3 teaspoons sea salt

  1. Grind the whole mustard seeds for a few seconds in a spice or coffee grinder, or by hand with a mortar and pestle. You want them mostly whole. Add the chopped nuts and grind into a paste.
  2. Move everything to a bowl and add the salt and cold water. Mix well and let stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in the vinegar and stir well. When the vinegar is incorporated, pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. Wait at least 24 hours before using. Mustard made this way will last several months in the fridge.

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Spicy Chipotle Mustard

Makes 1 cup

A fiesta in the mouth, this mustard is smoky-fruity from the chipotle chile, and fiery hot. Serve it on grilled chicken breasts, in a pita sandwich with grilled lamb and arugula, or with beef tacos.

1/3 cup Colman’s dry mustard (or make your own; see above)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo, plus 2 tbsp. adobo sauce from can, divided*
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

  1. Stir together dry mustard, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium metal bowl until smooth. Stir in minced chipotle chile (leave sauce behind). Chill, covered, overnight.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of water to a simmer. To bowl of mustard mixture, add egg, salt, and cornstarch and whisk to blend. Set bowl over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in adobo sauce.
  3. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.

*NOTE: You can substitute with any dried peppers that will give you the level of “heat” you’d like . It would be preferable if the pepper were smoked. Chipotle in ADOBO are dried peppers canned in a tomato sauce.

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Beery Yellow Mustard

Makes 2-1/2 cups

1-1/2 cups beer (use a full-bodied one)
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder

  1. Add beer to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let cool. Add yellow mustard seeds and let stand at room temperature until seeds have absorbed most of the moisture, about 2 hours.
  2. Place mustard seeds and remaining liquid in a food processor or blender. Process until chopped and slightly grainy.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large saucepan. Whisk in water, vinegar, brown sugar, dry mustard and onion powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until volume is reduced by a third, about 15 minutes.
  4. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.

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Horseradish Mustard

Makes 1 cup

The feisty, horseradish-like kick of this mustard is tempered by acidity. It’s good with just about everything—use in place of your favorite table mustard.

1/2 cup Colman’s dry mustard (or make your own; see above)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish, drained
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Whisk together dry mustard and vinegar in a medium metal bowl until smooth. Chill, covered, overnight.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch water to a simmer. To bowl of vinegary mustard, whisk in 1/4 cup water, egg, sugar, Horseradish, cornstarch, and salt. Set bowl over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until mustard thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk for a minute, and then let cool.
  3. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.

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Seeded Agave Nectar Mustard

Makes 1 cup

This is similar to honey mustard, but with a softer sweetness. Toasted black mustard seeds give it crunch and intrigue. It’s especially good with chilled pork tenderloin and warm grilled potato salad.

1/4 cup Colman’s dry mustard (or make your own; see above)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 teaspoons oil
2 tablespoons black or brown mustard seeds
1 large egg
1 teaspoon sea salt
2-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder

  1. Stir together dry mustard, vinegar, 2 tbsp. water, and agave nectar in a medium metal bowl until smooth. Chill, covered, overnight.
  2. Put oil and mustard seeds in a small frying pan and heat over medium heat, covered. As soon as mustard seeds start to pop, about 3 minutes, remove from heat. Let cool.
  3. Bring a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of water to a simmer. To mustard-vinegar mixture, add toasted mustard seeds in oil, egg, salt, and cornstarch and whisk to blend. Set bowl over saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, until mustard thickens, 3 minutes.
  4. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.

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Ballpark Beer Mustard

Makes 1 cup

This bright-yellow mustard, like the familiar French’s, gets its color from turmeric. Unlike French’s, it’s quite hot, with a pleasantly beery afterglow and a lemony tang. Good with hot dogs and burgers. Not surprisingly, it’s a great bridge to a nice cold beer.

1/4 cup Colman’s dry mustard (or make your own; see above)
1/2 cup light-bodied beer (such as Coors, Corona, or Full Sail Session Lager)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 egg
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar

  1. Whisk together dry mustard, beer, 2 tbsp. water, and turmeric in a medium metal bowl until smooth. Chill, covered, overnight.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch water to a simmer. To bowl of mustard mixture, add egg, salt, cornstarch, lemon juice, and sugar and whisk to blend. Set bowl over saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, until the mustard just thickens, 4 to 6 minutes.
  3. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.

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Cognac Mustard

Makes 1-1/2 cups

A suave, slightly sweet mustard that tastes great with roasted meats, especially pork and chicken. Also try it on grilled ham and brie sandwiches, or stirred into a side dish of sautéed mushrooms (mix in a spoonful of cream too).

6 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
3 tablespoons cognac
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt

  1. Put mustard seeds, 1/3 cup water, cognac, and vinegar in a bowl and stir to completely submerge seeds. Cover and let sit at room temperature 2 to 3 days.
  2. Whirl mustard mixture in a blender with brown sugar and salt until smooth.
  3. Make ahead 2 weeks, covered and chilled to develop flavors before using.