Jun 10, 2016

Mustard Facts

People have been eating mustard since biblical times.

Mustard's variety is staggering, but it all comes down to one plant in the Brassica family and three types of seeds it produces: white, also referred to as yellow, because it is light yellow in color; brown, and black. The majority of commercial mustard is made with white or brown mustard seeds, or a mix of the two.

Black seeds are rarely used for mustard. They are sold whole at Indian markets and are common in Indian cooking.

Prepared mustard in a jar is: dried mustard seeds mixed with water and some other liquid, typically vinegar to get that chemical reaction going. Dry mustard or mustard flour is the dried seeds ground to a fine powder. It is in the spice section of the store.

Brown seeds carry more pronounced heat than white seeds. The addition of other ingredients, such as wine or beer instead of vinegar, spices, herbs and the degree to which the seeds are milled give prepared mustard its personality and flavor.

Yellow or American ballpark - The classic hot dog condiment gets its bright hue from turmeric, not from the ground white seeds from which it’s made. It is acidic, but not spicy hot.

Dijon - A silky smooth mustard made with brown seeds. Dijon is made in Dijon, France and must adhere to strict standards as defined by the government, but no such US standards exist. What is sold in the US as 'Dijon-style' mustard is less flavorful than the original.

Deli or American brown - This deli staple made from brown seeds is mildly spicy and not as tart as yellow mustard.

Chinese - Hot dry mustard is ground brown seeds mixed with water. The mustard that comes with egg rolls at a Chinese restaurant is in this category.

English - This mustard is made from white and brown seeds. It is most often seen in powdered form, but also sold in jars.

German - These mustards range in flavor, texture, and heat, but the two most popular styles, both made primarily with the brown seed, are hot and smooth. Bavarian-style, is coarser, milder, and sweeter.

Whole or coarse grain - This is made from a mix of whole and ground seeds, usually the brown.

Mustard, whole mustard seeds, and dry mustard retain their flavor for years. Keep both in a dark, cool spot. Jar mustard, even flavored ones can last for well over a year, but may lose its zing over time. The best way to keep jar mustard fresh is to refrigerate before even opening.

Incidentally, there is a National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin, US.

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