Specialty mustards usually reside the oddly-shaped bottles tucked into the crevices of gourmet food baskets and on the shelves of resort towns. Homemade mustard is one of the less celebrated do-it-yourself culinary arts yet there’s much to be said for grinding up custom-created batches. Here’s the pitch:
- Making your own mustard is easy and yet still impressive. Because it’s not at forefront of the artisanal food parade mustard is all the more special.
- Not to worry, the journey from novice to master can be achieved over the course of creating just one or two batches. In fact the names of most mustards are also the recipes: Cranberry Honey Mustard. Green Peppercorn Mustard. Jalapeno Mustard. Horseradish and Beer Mustard.
- Mustard is not a high-maintenance condiment. Start a batch when the mood strikes. Finish it up a couple of days or a week or two later. It’s a patient, leisurely process.
- Homemade mustard is inexpensive. While the 3 oz. jars of whole mustard seeds found in grocery store can cost four bucks or more, a pound of yellow, brown or black mustard seeds can be gotten at ethnic food stores or online sites like nuts.com for the same price – or less.
- Like jellies and jam, pretty much everybody eats mustard but hardly anyone actually makes their own, which means your domestic skills will be deemed all the more impressive.
Convinced yet? Good. Let’s get started.
Making mustard at home starts with soaking mustard seeds in vinegar, wine or beer until they double in volume. Yellow mustard seeds are a little mellower than brown but they are otherwise interchangeable. Plan on allowing the seeds to soak for at least two days. The seeds will absorb a lot of liquid, so check in on them every day to make sure the seeds remain submerged.
The next step is grinding the seeds to the desired degree of smoothness. A blender does a quicker and better job than a food processor. Flavorings such as herbs or dried fruits can either be added to the mustard seeds during the soak or blended in at the grinding stage. A tablespoon or two of yellow mustard powder (e.g. Colman’s) will add creaminess to an otherwise roughly ground, Dijon-style mustard.
Mustard keeps forever and a day in the refrigerator. It’s also nearly indestructible sitting out on the counter. Food safety experts will warn against storing at room temperature, but the fire of the mustard seeds and the acid in the vinegar create an inhospitable Satan’s sandbox for molds and bacteria.
Like anything else, mustard making can be made more elaborate. But the basic soak and grind is a grand way to go.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO MUSTARD PROVENCAL
Makes 4 cups
- 1 cup brown mustard seeds
- 2+ cups cider vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 T. herbs de Provence
- 3 T. chopped sun dried tomatoes
- 1 T. Colman’s yellow mustard powder
- Water as needed
1.Put the mustard seeds in non-reactive bowl. Add the cider vinegar. The mustard seeds need to be covered in vinegar throughout the soaking process, so add more as needed to keep them just barely covered.
2. After two or three days the seeds will have stopped absorbing the liquid. They are now ready to be processed into mustard. Note: the seeds can rest in the vinegar bath, lightly covered, at room temperature for up to a week.
3. Place ½ of the soaked seeds into a blender. Add half of the garlic, half of the sun-dried tomatoes, half of the powdered mustard and ½ of the herbs. Blend on medium speed for 1 ½ – 2 minutes. As the mustard is grinding in the blender, add water in a thin trickle to keep the mustard churning. Like a milk shake.
4. After one minute taste the mustard. It should still be rather grainy. Do you like it that way? Then it’s done. For a smoother consistency blend it some more.
5. Spoon out the mustard into a mixing bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Mix the two batches well in the bowl for a even flavor and consistency.
Spoon into clean jars. Store in the refrigerator.
PRESERVED LEMON MUSTARD
Makes 4 cups
- 1 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 2+ cups white wine vinegar
- 1 preserved lemon, pulp and seeds removed
- 1 T. whole coriander seeds
- 1 T. Colman’s powdered mustard
- Water as needed
Makes 4 cups
1. Put the mustard seeds and vinegar into a non-reactive bowl. Add vinegar as needed to keep the seeds barely covered during the soaking process. Let soak for two or three days, until the seeds stop absorbing liquid.
2. Roughly chop the preserved lemon (pulp and seeds discarded).
3. Put half of the soaked mustard seeds into a blender. Add half of chopped lemon, coriander seeds and powdered mustard. Blend on medium speed for three minutes. As the mustard is grinding in the blender, add water in a thin trickle to keep the mustard churning, like a milk shake.
4. After three minutes the mustard will be very creamy. Spoon into a mixing bowl. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Use a spatula to mix the two batches well for a even flavor and consistency.
5. Spoon into clean jars. Store in the refrigerator.