Ode to Mustard (and Uses of Mustard Seeds)
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. For those not yet convinced of the magic of mustard seed, I’m sure there’s something with mustard out there for you.
There are just so many flavors of mustard to enjoy: regular yellow, spicy brown, Dijon or white wine mustard, whole grain, English mustard, German mustard, Chinese hot mustard, and beer mustard. And that’s doesn't even touch on flavored mustards! The pungent, nose-burning magnificence of freshly prepared mustard is beyond comparison. Mustard seed is, dare I say, a magical seed.
The flavor of mustard isn’t particularly 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. Rather than being a slight to mustard seed, this is exactly where the little thing 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 is one of the most versatile and widely used—both in our 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. 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 mild variety. These have a mellow, rounded flavor without the pungent spiciness of hot oriental mustards.
Yellow Mustard Powder – This ground mustard is made from yellow mustard seeds and varies in heat level. We carry a Mild Yellow Mustard Powder and a Regular 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.
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.
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.
Do you have any mustard recipes?
(Flavored) Basic Homemade Mustard – Using yellow mustard powder, this mustard recipe is highly customizable. Variations include a chai cranberry flavor (great for ham or turkey sandwiches) and a curry & ginger infused mustard.
Pickled Mustard Seeds – These can be made well ahead of time, as they keep in the fridge for 3 months. These mustard seeds make a great condiment for brisket, sausage, or turkey. You can also use them in place of whole grain mustard for a little more crunch.
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.