To My Beloved, Mustard Seed
with Samuel Garrett
mustard mustard seeds seed to seed
For those not yet convinced of the magic of mustard seed, I’m sure there’s something with mustard out there for you. I must be true to what I love, and that love is mustard.
I love mustard. Why? It goes with nearly everything I like to eat: hot dogs, pretzels, steak, fish, deviled eggs, salad dressing, sandwiches, and more. And there are just so many glorious flavors of mustard to enjoy: regular yellow, spicy brown, Dijon, whole grain, English mustard, German mustard, Chinese hot mustard, and beer mustard. And that’s not even a complete list! The pungent, nose-burning magnificence of freshly prepared mustard is nearly beyond comparison. Mustard seed is, dare I say, a magical seed.
As a self-aware foodie with discerning taste and an expansive palate, I like just about every type of food out there but don’t claim to “love” many items. Mustard though…well, mustard “cuts the mustard.” Everyone should love mustard, but alas, they do not. I’m almost afraid to admit that as a child, I utterly disliked mustard. The spicy, fiery flavor of prepared mustard would cause my eyes to swell and nose to run in all the worst ways. As my sense of taste developed and became increasingly welcoming to new and interesting flavors, mustard quickly jumped to the top of my favorite foods list. I became a loving member of team mustard.
The flavor of mustard isn’t often sought after. Rarely do you hear, “I’ve got a real craving for mustard!” or, “If there was one thing I could eat right now, it would be mustard.” Mustard always plays second fiddle to whatever main course or side it is accompanying. Mustard is never the prominent flavor but almost always an accompaniment to the star of the dish. You may think that this would be a disservice to the wonderful and vibrant flavor of the mustard seed, but this is exactly where the mustard seed shines. The flavor mustard seeds bring to a dish doesn’t need to be highlighted; instead it’s used to compliment and accentuate the dish. Its fiery flavor pairs beautifully with almost any dish, providing an acidic and somewhat bitter element that’s intended to liven up the plate.
Of all the seeds Savory Spice carries, mustard seed is one of the most versatile and widely used—both in our signature spice blends and throughout the culinary world. Mustard seeds can be found in American, European, Asian, and Indian cuisines, playing an important part in each. Don’t be fooled by the lack of size in the mustard seed; it’s a small but mighty seed that brings powerful flavor to any dish.
What kind of mustard should I use?
Yellow Mustard Seed – This is the variety most commonly found in American kitchens. Savory Spice carries both regular yellow mustard seeds and a hot Oriental variety. Regular mustard seed has a mellower, rounded flavor profile. Oriental mustard seeds are smaller and hotter than regular yellow mustard seed. The Oriental hot seeds are actually the hottest of the mustard seeds, with a pungent flavor similar to wasabi or horseradish powder.
Brown Mustard Seed – Brown mustard seeds possess a sharp heat flavor that rates as a 2 or 3 on a heat scale from 1 to 10. By comparison, this is only slightly milder than crushed red pepper. These seeds are commonly used to make whole grain and many coarse varieties of mustards. More and more, brown seeds have taken the place of black in Indian cooking.
Black Mustard Seed – After a searching far and wide, we were able to source these amazing black mustard seeds from India. While they look similar to brown mustard seeds, the black seeds are bigger and possess an earthy, far less bitter flavor. Black seeds shed their pods when mature (unlike brown seeds) making it necessary to handpick them, which makes them harder to attain.
Yellow Mustard Powder – This ground mustard is made from yellow mustard seeds and varies in heat level. We carry a Mild Yellow Mustard Powder, Regular Yellow Mustard Powder, and Hot Oriental Yellow Mustard Powder. Traditionally prepared mustard (you probably have a bright yellow bottle in your fridge right now) uses mustard powder.
How do I use mustard seeds?
For pickles & brines:
Whole mustard seeds are an important ingredient when pickling or brining. They infuse a subtle heat into pickling liquids, brines for your protein, or even in a summer shellfish boil. You will, of course, find mustard seeds in our Pickling Spice and Shrimp & Crab Boil.
Sweet & Spicy Brining Spices featuring yellow mustard seeds; works well with shrimp or pork.
For homemade condiments:
One key trait of mustard is the enzyme that gives mustard its pungent flavor—myrosine. This powerful enzyme isn’t activated until it’s submersed in a water-based liquid. That’s why, when making a prepared mustard, soaking the seeds for at least a day is necessary to achieve that signature mustard flavor. The liquid options are almost unlimited: beer, wine, vinegar, water, or apple cider are all flavorful options. Even mustard powder doesn’t get that characteristic bite until you add liquid. For ground mustard seeds, a mix with water and vinegar will provide a quick mustard sauce. Freshly prepared mustard is the hottest and most pungent, so you typically need to allow mustard to age for a certain period of time, to mellow the flavors. The longer it sits, the milder the flavor becomes (up to a point!). For a simple homemade mustard, start with 1 cup mustard powder and add 3 ounces water and 3 ounces vinegar. Mix well and salt to taste. Let stand 10 minutes for mustard to activate then add desired seasonings to make your own custom flavors.
Myrosine! The science behind our love of mustard.
When cooked in oil the taste of mustard seeds will remain subtle, adding a less pungent flavor to things like curry pastes, sauces, or stews. As with most seeds, toasting excites the seeds’ volatile oils and helps release their aromatic flavor. After toasting, mustard seeds mellow out and can be incorporated into a sauce or dressing to provide a nutty, earthy flavor as well as a bit of texture.
Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce, featuring yellow mustard seeds.
Do you have any mustard recipes?
Master Mustard – Using a mix of crushed brown mustard seeds and mild yellow mustard powder, this mustard recipe is highly customizable. Variations include a spicy version, a very unique garlic pale ale for those beer lovers, classic honey mustard, and a sweet and spicy maple chipotle option.
Whole Grain Beer Mustard – Starting with your favorite beer, this recipe combines whole yellow and brown mustard seeds with apple cider vinegar and County Clare Seasoning Salt to produce a one of a kind beer mustard. For slightly different flavors, try using different varieties of beer: stout, lager, pale ale, or porter.
Red Wine Whole Seed Mustard – More of a wine connoisseur than a beer drinker? Use your favorite red wine as the liquid base for this rich and zippy homemade condiment. The hearty red wine flavor pairs well with seasonings like Pike Place Protein Rub and Black Dust Coffee & Spice Rub.
Barnegat Bay Creamy Mustard Dip – This is a cream-based mustard, yielding a smoother flavor profile that still gives you that mustard punch. With our Barnegat Bay Butcher’s Rub, either crème fraiche or sour cream, and prepared yellow mustard, this recipe is a great dip for grilled sausages, potatoes, and vegetables. It can also be used as a spread for sandwiches or thinned out with buttermilk or milk as a salad dressing.
Bucktown Honey Mustard Vinaigrette – While this blend doesn’t use mustard powder or mustard seeds on their own, mustard is a prominent ingredient and flavor in our Bucktown Brown Mustard & Honey Rub. Paired with oil, white wine vinegar, honey, and our Salt & Pepper Tableside Seasoning, this vinaigrette is simple to prepare with fantastic flavor.
P.S. I love you.
If it still isn’t plain to see, I love mustard. It’s nearly the perfect condiment in almost every situation. With its ability to span various flavor profiles and be included in numerous cuisines, the greatness of the mustard seed is unmatched. For those not yet convinced of the magic of mustard seed, I’m sure there’s something with mustard out there for you. I must be true to what I love, and that love is mustard.