Ever consider making your own artisanal mustard? Its easier than pie. Way easier.
Here’s how and why it works:
Prepared mustard is a combination of mustard, an acid based liquid (AKA vinegar) and flavoring – preferably liquid. And salt. Can’t forget that. What happens is that as liquid is added to the crushed mustard and is absorbed by the mustard causing an enzyme (myrosin) and sugars (Sinalbin) to react and release the characteristic mustard flavours. Since a highly significant part of the preparation is a vinegar of some kind, and that you are using more than a squirt of salt, most mustards will be perfectly happy outside the fridge.
The underlying formula is (by weight):
- 1 part mustard
- 1 part vinegar
- 1 part flavoring
- salt at 5% the weight of the mustard
- sweetener is optional.
So drilling down a bit: I like to grind up whole mustard seeds, both brown and blonde, and use them in conjunction wtih yellow mustard powder. You can go anywhere you want with this, but you do have to grind up and break the whole seeds. You could even toast some of the seeds by heating a dry frying pan until its quite hot, throwing in the seeds and slamming a lid on right after, Once they star popping, take them off the heat. (Its sort of like popcorn)
You can use any kind of vinegar, from wine and wine vinegar to pickling vinegar. My preference is for apple cider vinegar as it is not too strong, and imparts a subtle sweetness to the mustard. You can also combine vinegars. Play with it!
The flavoring you select gives the name to your mustard. For my basic, everyday Dijon style I use apple juice. Its sweet, not too strong flavour balances out the vinegar and mustard. Some other possible flavorings could include:
- chutneys or jams you have available
- roast garlic
- dried fruit (e.g. dates and apricots)
- tomato products: sauce, dried tomato, paste, combinations of….
Salt should be 5% of the weight of the mustard you use. That said, you can experiment with more. At 5% you can’t really taste the salt, so don’t use less.
Sweetners are not part of the actual formula though they do tend to find their way into most mustards, either as a separate addition, or in the flavoring (chutneys and dried fruits for example). The stronger the vinegar base, the more sugar that will be needed to balance it. The right amount of sweetner can make or break the mustard.
A 250 ml jar – 1 cup – is the most common quantity that mustard is sold in. If you use 75g as your basic ratio weight (75g mustard, 75g vinegar, 75g liquid flavoring) you will get a cup of mustard.
Some final thoughts
- Mustard is initially very strong and powerful in its taste but it will weaken in time. Therefore, when you taste and adjust, imagine it in its more integrated and slightly gentler form. Also, only make what you are likely to use over the following 2-3 months. The reason commercial mustard mild is because its been a long time between its preparation and your mouth.
- Give it a couple of weeks for the flavours to mingle and for the mustard to settle down a bit.
- If you have used a drier flavoring – for example dried fruit, garlic or horseradish – you will need to add liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Do this after a day or so. You can use whatever you like: water, juice, even wine or beer.
- On the other hand, after a day or two the hydration may be a little too much. To correct this add a little mustard powder and a pinch of salt.
- One of the quickest ways of turning out a delicious predictable artisanal mustard is to use a favorite chutney as the flavour.
- Do NOT, under circumstances bring your hands (which are likely to have some fresh mustard powder on them) in contact with the various orifices and mucous membranes of your body. Do not rub your eyes especially. It will be painful and you will need to rinse thoroughly. Latex gloves are strongly suggested.