Monday, March 19, 2012

Cutting the Mustard

In ancient times mustard was used more for medicine than as a condiment. Even in more modern times our grandmothers treated chest colds and other ailments with mustard poultices. The chemical heat in the seeds warms and sooths congested chests, relaxes muscles, and opens blood vessels.

But it’s pretty good on a sandwich, too.

To that end, the seeds were mixed with unfermented grape must (hence the name mustard) until the French started mixing them with actual wine and vinegar. Americans in the 20th century Midwest substituted beer for the wine/vinegar.

mustard ingredients

Though we enjoy all sorts of differently flavored mustard around here, it never occurred to me to try and make some until I ran across this set of recipes on Mother Earth News. They all look pretty easy, so I decided to try the Honey Stout Mustard.

Of course, I made a few alterations. First off, I used a locally brewed porter rather than stout, and that really affected the flavor. In short, it made the mustard more bitter than some people might like. I happen to like the bitter flavor of this porter, which is why we had some in the refrigerator in the first place. So I’m happy with the resulting mustard. Just be sure that if you try this, choose a beer/stout/porter you like to drink.

Secondly, you need a lot of mustard seeds for these recipes – a cup each of yellow and brown for this one (there are also black mustard seeds). You can find them in bulk food bins sometimes, but they’re still pretty expensive to buy like that and it’s hard to gauge how fresh they are. The volatile oils are, well, volatile and evaporate quickly, losing potency. So I added mustard seeds to my last order from San Francisco Herb Company, where I also buy peppercorns, cumin, caraway, chili powder and other herbs/spices/teas at significant savings. So far I’ve never been disappointed by their quality, and I got a pound each of yellow and brown mustard seeds for less the $5 total (plus shipping).


Honey Porter Mustard a la Cricket

  • 1 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 16 ounces O’dells Cutthroat Porter (replacing 12 ounces British stout)
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 small shallots, grated (replacing a small minced onion plus 4 pressed cloves of garlic)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (increased from 1 Tablespoon to offset the bitterness of the porter)
  • 1/3 cup honey (increased from 4 Tablespoons to offset the bitterness of the porter)
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard powder (decreased from 1/3 cup simply because I only had that much)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves (replacing 1 teaspoon ground allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric (increased from 1/2 teaspoon just because I really like turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Soaked the mustard seeds in the porter, adding more to cover, for 6 hours. Combined all the other ingredients and heated until reduced by half. Added the mixture without straining (which is why I grated the shallots) to the soaked mustard seeds in a food processor. Processed for nearly five minutes before getting the consistency I wanted. It was thick enough at that point that I didn’t have to cook it down any more, so I simply packed it into sterilized jars.

Mustard is an antibacterial, like honey, so it will keep for a long time on the shelf without any canning or processing. It does lose potency if not refrigerated, though, so I tucked all the jars into the back of the fridge in the garage.

I’d love hear if anyone else tries (or has tried) making mustard. Some of the other recipes on the Mother Earth News site look really good!

1 comment:

  1. I haven't made mustard yet, and I've collected recipes because making mustard is a "Kitchen Intention" of mine. Recipe looks yummy!