I began to be interested in cooking with mustard when I started researching flavorful dishes that I could make for my friend, Sarah, who suffers from diabetes. There are so many wonderful ways in which mustard can be used in place of salt –spreads, vinaigrettes, sauces, salads, brines, rubs—and that should be the topic of another blog.
What I want to write about today is how to make your own wonderful, tasty and exceptional mustard. Not the yellow ballpark mustard, which some people still use for whatever reason, but uniquely flavored and highly textured mustard that you can make for a fraction of what you would pay at the grocers.
Mustard is one of the oldest spices known to humankind. For thousands of years, mustard seed and the mustard plant have factored into our diets, our medicine and our folklore. People claim that it can cure arthritis, kill germs, heal both frostbite and scorpion bites, and treat asthma, weight loss and even gastrointestinal cancer. The Boy-King Tut was entombed with mustard seeds. Perhaps he would have been better off if he had used mustard in advance….
There are many kinds of mustards, ranging in color, spiciness, sweetness and texture. Some French mustards are so grainy that they seem to be nothing more than mustard seeds soaked in vinegar. Others are so finely ground that they simply disappear into the sauces they are flavoring. I like a mustard that is both creamy and grainy.
The mustard recipes I am sharing with you today can be preserved in a hot water bath in four-ounce jars for a very long shelf life. But if you don’t feel up to canning, just store them in your refrigerator. Either way, you should let them sit a couple of weeks to allow the flavors to mellow before you use them. Then you can share them with your friends as a hostess gift or stocking stuffer.
You start with the seeds. For this project, I purchased, in order of their purported spiciness, yellow, brown and black mustard.
Garlic Rosemary Dijon Mustard
This one is lovely.
Heat up 2 cups of pinot grigio and 1 cup of white wine vinegar into a decent sized saucepan and add one large chopped onion, a rosemary spring or two, a chopped head of garlic and a teaspoon each of salt and black pepper to simmer until the onion gets really soft. Strain the liquid into a non-reactive bowl (i.e. not plastic!). Stir in 1 cup of yellow mustard seeds and 1/3 cup of dry, powdered mustard into the strained liquid. Cover and let her soak for a day or two, no more.
After the soaking, dump it all into the food processor and whir it around, adding up to 2.5 cups of water as needed to make it the consistency you want. Dump this mixture into a saucepan to simmer a few minutes, til it’s hot. Transfer to small, sterilized glass canning jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. Screw on the libs and process about 10 minutes.
Meyer Lemon Sage Honey Mustard
You’ll need a lot of sage for this one.
First, finely chop 1/3 cup of sage leaves and set it to one side. Then coarsely chop ½ sage leaves and stems and make it into a tea by simmering that in 1 cup of pinot grigio, When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and steep it for 5 minutes of so. Strain that into a non-reactive bowl, pressing it to get as much liquid as you can. Stir ¾ cup of yellow mustard seed into the strained liquid and let it set about 2 hours. Combine with 1 cup white wine vinegar into a food processor and whiz it until it to your desired texture.
Put everything back into a saucepan and add the zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons, ½ cup honey, your reserved sage and a pinch of salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Transfer to small, sterilized glass canning jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. Screw on the libs and process about 10 minutes.
Combine 6 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds, 2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds, 3 tablespoons cognac and 2/3 C white wine vinegar into a non-reactive bowl and let it sit for two or three days. Whiz it in a food processor with 1/4brownsugard and 1 teaspoon of salt. Heat it up for a bit and then transfer to small, sterilized glass canning jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. Screw on the libs and process about 10 minutes.
Basic Beer Mustard
This makes a wonderful base for all kinds of other recipes, even other flavored mustards. Try adding some curry powder, or some minced chipotles!
Combine 1 cup of brown mustard seeds (or a combination of black, brown and yellow) with 1½ cup dark beer. Bring it to a boil, turn off the heat and let it stand for 2 hours. Blend in the food processor, plop it back into the saucepan and a 1 cup water, 1/2
cup malt vinegar, ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup powdered mustard and 1 tablespoon of onion powder. Simmer about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid a bit. Transfer to small, sterilized glass canning jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace. Screw on the libs and process about 10 minutes.