Thursday, February 23, 2012

Homemade Mustard - Using (Non)Native Plants

It took me a long time to figure out that mustard can taste good. I actually found out when my wife and I traveled to Germany. In Deutschland, they let you order your sausage by the meter and keep filling your glass till you surrender (or cover it with a coaster). It was there that I got adventurous and decided to give mustard another shot; I'm so glad I did. And then I started paying more attention to this condiment and realized the numerous amount of combinations. I relate this to the eye-awakening experience of finding out that more than fizzy yellow beer exists.

From that point forward, I tried all sorts of different mustard. And that eventually lead me to want to make my own. It didn't seem like it would be too difficult and has a lot of similarities to beer making. Here are the basics:
  • Cold Liquid produces Hot Mustard, Hot Liquid produces Mild Mustard 
    • Similar to Beer Mashing - your temperature will determine how much you denature compounds (myrosin (enzyme) mixes with sinigrin or sinalbin (glucosinolates) that produce the heat (mustard oil))
    • Amount of heat will peak at 15 min, then start dropping
  • Add acid to preserve your heat level
    • Another way to denature compounds - lower pH
  • White Mustard (mild), Brown Mustard (medium), Black Mustard (hot)
  • Must grind or crush the seeds to get access to the compounds
    • Food Processor or Spice Grinder or Mortar and Pestle
  • Make 24 hours in advance to allow bitterness to subside
Now you now the basics, so how about an easy recipe that you can easily adjust for your tastes

MUSTARD - 1 cup serving

  • 6 tablespoons mustard seeds (Collect your own - see below)
  • 1/2 cup mustard powder (Cheap at Ethnic Grocery Stores)
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar (cider, wine or sherry
  • 1/2 cup wine, beer or water 
  • 2 teaspoons salt 
Optional ingredients that I really enjoyed:
  • Chipotles in Adobo sauce with Black mustard (Super Hot)
  • Honey  (Commercial versions are 1:1 ratios)
  • Sour Beer (Great for lowering the pH to set the heat level)

Living in California we have a ton of Black Mustard growing thanks to those Spanish Missionaries. I decided late summer to try and gather my own. The gathering part was quite easy once I figured out a good system:
  • Wear gloves
  • Wear a big basket or bag around your neck
  • With nice thick gloves just grab each stalk and strip the seeds right into your bag/basket
The sorting part is time consuming and I don't have it figured out perfectly (if anyone knows a better way, I'd appreciate knowing)

Start with a gross sort using a strainer or colander - keep sifting. Then I washed the seeds several times in big plastic bowls. And then into the spice grinder and followPublish Post the above directions.

EDIT 2/24/12 - I had to change the title so my environmental friend would not correct me. Black mustard is actually an invasive non-native species. So please collect the seeds.


  1. I might be dense but what you're saying is the following:

    Optionally heat beer/wine/water
    Steep ground mustard seeds
    Add acid (vinegar, sour beer, etc...)
    Combine other ingredients
    Eat after 24 hours

    Is that right?

    1. Yes, you got it.
      Controlling the heat of the mustard is what takes practice. So buy some cheap bulk seeds and experiment with liquid temperatures, times, acid additions, mustard varieties.

      And the mustard can be cellared like beer.
      Cold - keep more heat, more flavor
      Hot - lose heat, lose flavor
      More age - lose heat
      And it is very difficult to have pure mustard spoil - very stable. Only if you add fresh additives like fruit or herbs.

      Good luck and let me know how it works for you.

  2. The mustard is good, mine reminds me of Chinese mustard. I used white seeds (what we had) and cold water, steeped for 15 minutes and added apple cider vinegar and the other ingredients. It's definitely got a nose-clearing kick. I used a mortar and pestle on the mustard seeds, next time I'll definitely use a spice grinder. Probably half the seeds didn't get crushed...

    1. It is surprising how tough mustard seeds are to crush.

      You definitely went for the hot side with 15 min. of cold water. I bet it did have that wasabi-like sinus clearing power.

      I like making this cup batch and then mix about 3 different combos from there. I have been wanting to experiment more with sweet-hot mustard. I like honey mustard(at least mine that isn't too sweet), but there are so many more methods of sweetening.

      Thanks for the update.


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