Mustard – that fierce little condiment that gives most meats, many salad dressings and the occasional sandwich some extra pep, is a kitchen and dining room staple. The mustard plant is part of the broccoli and cauliflower family but unlike those vegetables, its seeds are the part which are most coveted when it comes to cooking. There are white seeds which are mild, brown seeds which are pretty strong and black seeds which are the most powerful in terms of taste.
Mustard is made from whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds which can then be mixed with vinegar, lemon or lime juice, wine, water and spices - mustard popular the world over. From South America to South East Asia and almost everywhere in between there is a hankering for mustard.
There are of course, different types. English mustard is typically bright yellow, with a paste-like consistency with plenty of heat and even more bite. It might seem like American mustard but in fact, across the pond their mustard is runnier and a whole lot milder.
French mustard is a light brown paste and super tangy to taste, while Chinese mustard is likely to result in smoke coming out of your ears if you sample too much in one go.
There are a whole load of other types – wholegrains, sweet fruity versions or those fused with the likes of horseradish.
The good news is, it is surprisingly easy to make: you basically just have to crush the seeds within a liquid and add a substance which will preserve it, typically vinegar. Ideally you’d soak the seeds in said liquid for 12 hours before crushing them. Obviously, this is just the outline of a basic recipe – intensity and flavour can be experimented with.
Aside from vinegar, you might choose beer, wine or lemon juice to pair with mustard seeds to make your basic paste or sauce.
From here, the options are infinite. We’d recommend experimenting with different sugars and dried spices – but best of all, add some fresh herbs to your mustard when serving it – rosemary perhaps or some thyme.
Once made, put mustard into little jars and store in the fridge. While it will take an eternity to go ‘off’ it will certainly lose potency over time. The best way to get the mojo back? Add a splash of vinegar and you’ll be right back in the game.