Mustard is biblical. Mustard is old. Mustard is a condiment. Mustard is an herb. Mustard is a spice. Mustard is good. It’s fun and easy to make your own prepared mustard from scratch. When you do, you may never go back to the purchased stuff! Ever!Mustard showed up in Sanskrit about 5000 years ago, so it’s been around for a bit. And no wonder…it’s fantastic. The Romans gave the world prepared mustard as a condiment and it is in this form that Americans most commonly use mustard. Mustard has been manufactured in the US since colonial times. In the late 19th century, the first American manufacturer was a man named Robert Timothy French. That name is synonymous with “ball park” mustard, the bright yellow stuff of hot dog fame. The bright yellow color is actually from the addition of turmeric to the mix. While there are many varieties of mustard, the most commonly available are brown (Brassica juncea) or black seeds (Brassica nigra), both of which have a nice bit of heat and are quite pungent. The more common white/yellow seeds (Sunapis alba) offer a subtle flavor and less punch…but together, they offer a perfect union of flavor!
In the US we rarely use the seeds in their whole state, unless we’re making pickles or relishes. In Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, mustard is commonly used in its whole form, but it may be toasted first. See how they have changed color, but if you burn them, throw them out and start over, as they have a strong motor oil flavor and The Goddess is unaware of anything other than a piston that goes will with motor oil! The whole seeds are great in cooked relishes. These lovelies were added to the Rhubarb-Hibiscus Bourbon Sauce that went with the Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops; truly a marriage made in heaven…do I hear angels…yes, I think so! I love biting into one those heavenly little yellow orbs, after it has absorbed both the liquid and flavor of a cooked condiment and have them quite literally pop in my mouth. Mustard is without a doubt one of my favorite culinary sensations. Another thing to do, add the whole, toasted seeds to broccoli, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts; they too, marry well, since mustard is a member of the cabbage family…it’s an incestuous thing.
A few things to know about mustard:
- Mustard powder, or dried mustard, needs to be mixed with water which will initiate an enzymatic process that releases its heat and bite.
- To temper that sharpness, add either very hot water or an acid (like vinegar), which will stop that enzymatic reaction.
- To toast mustard seeds, toss them into a hot (dry) skillet and cooking them until they pop! in a most convincing manner; this takes less than a minute.
- Mustard greens (or leaves), are excellent sautéed as you would kale or cabbage; I add some yellow mustard seeds to the oil along with some julienned fresh ginger, before adding the greens. It’s a double-whammy of flavor!
- Whole mustard seed is good added to lentils, rice, soups, stirred into yogurt,
- In general, the spices/herbs/flavors that play well with mustard are: allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, fennel, garlic, ginger, maple syrup, mint, onion, tarragon, turmeric and wasabi
- Use the powder/whole seeds with beef, breads, cheeses, chicken, pork, salmon, sauces (both cream and savory), shrimp and vegetables
In fairness, I originally saw a recipe for Guinness Mustard in a copy of Saveur magazine. I’ve altered it, but I’m no longer certain what those changes were, so this is my version, with some help from the nice folks at Saveur. Get out the Guinness and make some mustard!
Spicy Guinness Mustard
This mustard is especially happy when smeared on grilled pork tenderloin or a corned beef sandwich.
- 1 12-oz. bottle Guinness Extra Stout
- 3/4 cup brown mustard seeds
- 3/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1 cup red wine vinegar (or part balsamic or a flavored vinegar)
- 2 tablespoon maple or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients in a nonreactive mixing bowl; I use a 4 cup Pyrex measure. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for 1–2 days so that the mustard seeds soften and the flavors meld; I usually do 2 days.
Transfer the mixture to the container of a blender and process, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the container with a rubber spatula, until the seeds are coarsely ground and the mixture thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cover. Refrigerate overnight and use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 months. Flavor mellows as it ages.
NOTE: The original recipe suggested using a food processor. It doesn’t work nearly as well as a blender; the food processor just “throws” the seeds around, but doesn’t really grind them up. Though I haven’t used it yet, I would suspect that an immersion blender would work well, provided you used something like a wide-mouthed canning jar to whirl the whole mess in.
Adapted heavily from Saveur Magazine.
Now gather your ingredients. I used a 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup to make my mustards in. I riff on this recipe, sometimes using all yellow mustard, no beer, but water and/or apple cider; I change the herbs and/or spices, etc. Make it your own creation. You can stir in maple syrup or honey after the fact, if you want a sweeter mustard.
It is imperative that you soak these little orbs for at least 24 hours. You can see the mustard on the bottom, the vinegar and Guinness in the middle and the foam on top. The foam will dissipate within an hour, then cover the container with plastic wrap, leave it on the counter for a day or two.
As you can see, the seeds have swollen with Guinness-y goodness and they need to be beaten into submission.
Let the beating begin!!! The original recipe had you using a food processor to make this. Now the blade on my food processor is razor-sharp, but the seeds just sort fly around the bowl and they don’t break down as much as I want them to; this is after about 4-5 minutes of whirling. It doesn’t work for me and it never has, but the blender is a dream. I want the mixture to be part smooth and paste-like, with some of the ground seeds remaining. As I mentioned in the recipe method, I think an immersion blender would work well. I would use a canning jar, like a wide-mouthed quart, to mix the mustard in; then just cover and store it in the jar.
This is what the mustard looks like when made in the blender. If you taste the mustard now, it has a harsh, unpleasant taste. DON’T TOSS IT! Tomorrow is another day and the mustard will have changed, it will be a bit more docile, nicer to deal with, but it will still be very, very delicious.
So scrape it into a container, or several containers (these make great gifts), and enjoy it smeared on…well, I’ll leave that up to you. We’re all adults here….