Powerful Little Mustard Seed
History of Mustard Seed
Mustard seeds have been traced to ancient times but the origins are lost in history. Initially, mustard was considered a medicinal plant rather than a culinary one and was used for scorpion stings. A hundred years later Hippocrates used mustard in a variety of medicines and poultices, used to cure toothaches and a number of ailments.
Egyptians tossed the seeds on their food and mustard seeds were placed in King Tut’s tomb. Wealthy Romans ground the seeds and mixed them with wine. Westerners had mustard seeds long before pepper.
The word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde he. Then there is the famous parable from the Bible where Jesus says, “"If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, 'May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,' and it would obey you!”
Types of Mustard Plants
There are 40 species of mustard plants and the ones that are used for commercial mustard are black, brown, and white mustard. White mustard is what is primarily used in yellow mustard and is grown in the Mediterranean basin. Brown mustard originated in the Himalayas and is the basic mustard found in Chinese restaurants and is the basis for mustard found in American and European restaurants.
Black mustard is popular in the Middle East and Asia Minor. It has to be hand harvested, so it is not used much in other areas. Mustard is a member of the Brassica family which bear tiny edible seeds and edible leaves. Interestingly enough the mustard plant is in the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard, kale and kohlrabi
Mustard popularity was declining in the mid 1700’s due to new spices arriving from the Americas and the Far East. The market was revived in France, in the city of Dijon when Burgundian Jean Naigeon substituted verjuice for the vinegar in prepared mustard. The mustard was less acidic and the smooth, suave Dijon mustard assumed its place in history.
Function of Mustard
Mustard in the kitchen has three main functions: a condiment, a flavoring agent or spice, and a vegetable. Mustard is good to bind a sauce and is used commercially to create the proper texture in sausages and prepared meat products. Of course, mustard is used out of the jar on sandwiches, hot dogs or other prepared food. A spoon full of mustard is good on a piece of grilled fish, on sausage or roast beef.
The use of mustard flour is a condiment in most common Asian cuisine. It is used on egg rolls and this mustard is hot and sharp
Mustard Types and Uses
Mustard as a flavoring agent must be used skillfully beginning with the choice of mustard. Out of hundreds of mustard types available today, there are only a few that are suitable for most cooking. To maximize the flavor, mustard should be added late in the cooking process because heat destroys much of the mustard’s distinctive taste. Many sauces are made using mustard, such as honey mustard sauce.
Mustard flour is part of many traditional recipes, such as gingerbread and chocolate cake. It is used as other spices and it contributes a depth and richness of flavor that is not necessarily identified as mustard. Some claim mustard flour heightens the flavors of all foods.
Beside the basic yellow mustard, some of the more well know varieties of mustard are deli-style mustard, Dijon mustard, Stone-ground and Whole-Grain mustard, sweet mustard, honey mustard, fruit mustard, herb mustard, Horseradish mustard, hot mustard, Old World Mustard, English and French mustard, Spirited mustard, mustard garlic, Irish mustard, Australian mustard, and other miscellaneous mustard
Mustard Field in Bloom
How to Make Mustard
Mustard doesn’t require refrigeration because of its antibacterial properties, but it will lose pungency more quickly and should be stored in a tight sealed container. Mustard doesn’t have any particular great nutritional value, but the good news is there are no calories.
To add just a few little interesting facts:
- More than 700 million pounds of mustard are consumed annually worldwide. Mustard is the second most popular condiment in the U.S. second only to peppercorns. National Mustard Day is August 1st.Pope John XXI loved mustard so much that he created a new Vatican position—grand moutardier du pape (grand mustard-maker to the pope)—and promptly filled the post with his nephew.
- New York’s Yankee Stadium uses more than 1,600 gallons plus 2,000,000 individual packets of mustard annually.
- Ancient Chinese considered mustard an aphrodisiac.
- An old German custom had the bride sew mustard seeds into the hem of her wedding gown to assure her dominance of the household.
- Mustard seeds are spread around the outside of the house to ward off evil spirits in some cultures, and is more common in Denmark and India.
- Jewelry is made using the mustard seed, necklaces and bracelets..
In summary, all parts of the mustard plant are edible and obviously it is a very popular condiment. It is much more than the condiment you put on your hot dog at the ball park, although that is a good part of the whole sporting experience.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.