I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks making homemade mustard. While it keeps for a long time in the refrigerator, I find the flavor gradually starts to diminish with time, so I like to make a fresh batch every six months or so. I generally make whole grain mustard recipes where you start by soaking the mustard seeds in liquid to soften them up. Most of the time I soak them overnight, but my recipe for Homemade Yellow Mustard calls for letting them soak for two days at room temperature.
There’s a lot of food chemistry involved in making mustard. First there’s the choice of seeds. The yellow seeds are the mildest, while the brown and black seeds are more spicy and pungent. Then there’s the liquid used. The acidity of vinegar or wine helps temper the chemical reaction that makes mustard hot, while plain water makes for a very hot mustard like that sometimes served in a Chinese restaurant. My basic Whole Grain Mustard recipe calls for using half yellow and half brown seeds, and soaking them overnight in a 50-50 mixture of white wine vinegar and water. After blending it up to the desired consistency using a blender or a food processor, I let the mustard sit for a day or two at room temperature to let the flavors mellow, then I put it in the refrigerator.
Beyond the basics, there’s all kinds of spices and other things you can add to your mustard to customize it. Last week I made one batch of Spicy Brown Mustard, which uses all brown seeds soaked in wine vinegar, with added turmeric, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. This one is hot, with the spices adding another layer of flavor beyond the heat. The turmeric adds a bit of yellow color, which makes the brown flecks of seeds stand out. I used less of the spices than called for in the recipe, so the flavor is a bit more subtle. That’s the great thing about making your own mustard: you get to make it to suit your own tastes!
I made another batch using all brown seeds and white wine vinegar, but this time added some horseradish and a little honey. That one will really open up your sinuses when you eat it! The sweetness of the honey acts as a nice counterbalance to the heat of the horseradish. I also like to make a wasabi mustard sometimes, adding either wasabi powder or paste. And speaking of sweet, honey is a popular addition to many mustard recipes. Maple syrup and mustard are a classic combination too, and brown sugar is another good way to add a little sweet flavor to your homemade mustard creation.
Our friend Ange Humphrey has invited me on the WEHT Local Lifestyles show Friday morning to talk about making homemade mustard, which should be a lot of fun. I’ve made a couple of jars ahead of time so we can do some taste-testing. And it will be a family affair, because my wife Lynda will also be on another segment tomorrow to talk about dyeing silk using old ties. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!