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Ground Mustard To Spice Up Your Cooking

Updated on June 14, 2015

Let me Re-Introduce You to Mustard

When you hear the word mustard, you probably think of the fluorescent yellow condiment available at the local hot dog stand. However, ground mustard has many more sophisticated uses.

Whether incorporated as part of a dry rub, or stirred into a homemade salad dressing or soup ground mustard has a distinct flavor that can liven up your recipes.  Mustard is found in cuisines worldwide, but it particularly spices up foods from the Caribbean, Mediterranean and India.  Wikipedia reports that it is "one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world."

Let's take a look at the history of the mustard spice and consider how you can use mustard in your cooking to add new, unexpected flavors to your meals. For the Martha Stewarts of the bunch (and that would not include yours truly) you can even grow your own plants from mustard seeds. Heck, anyone can grow cilantro.... but you can be the mustard master!

Mustard seeds prior to grinding
Mustard seeds prior to grinding

It Started with a Mustard Seed

Ground mustard spice is created by taking the seeds from several different species of mustard plants (two black and one white), and grinding them into a fine dust with a mortar and pestle. A coarser grind can be used to create "stone ground" mustard, which you'll find at your local gourmet cooking store. In fact, you can even use whole mustard seeds in your spice rack. Did you know that it's a key ingredient in most pickle spices?

When creating a mustard condiment, the ground mustard seeds are mixed with vinegar, water, turmeric and other spices.

Mustards come in a range of colors from bright yellow to dark brown. Its flavor is aggressively pungent, with a bit of heat. If you prepare your own homemade mustard condiment, be prepared for more intense flavor than you'll find in a jar of Grey Poupon!

As you probably already know, mustard spreads are excellent on sandwiches and marry well with a variety of meats and cheeses (ham and swiss on rye with coarse ground mustard is my personal favorite!) However, using ground mustard in salad dressings, marinades, soups and sauces can give your meals an unexpected kick.

Ground mustard seed creates the spice
Ground mustard seed creates the spice

Fascinating Facts about Mustard

  • The word "mustard" is derived from the Old French words "must," which refers to a sour wine, and "ardens," which means burning. Gives you a little perspective about the burning flavor of homemade mustard sauces, doesn't it?
  • Mustard is a common name for an entire family and genus of herbal plants. If you are familiar with candytuft, alyssum, watercress and radish, then you know common mustard plants. In fact, more than 100 plant species are included in the mustard genus - from broccoli to cauliflower to cabbage and Brussels sprouts, the weed-like plants grow across northern and other temperate climate regions....Who knew that mustard was so prevalent in our daily vegetable diets and gardens?
  • In addition to using mustard seeds to prepare spices and sauces, the leaves of the mustard plant can be incorporated into salads. The wild greens are bitter, yet tender.
  • Recent research has suggested the possible use of mustard plants for creation of biodiesel, which can be used as a clean, green alternative to motor oil or diesel fuel. Take that, BP!
  • To continue with the potential "green" uses of mustard, some have noted that mustard oil can be used as an effective, chemical-free pesticide, safe for consumers, the environment and bees!
  • Mustard was originally called "Sinapsis," but in Roman times, the spice/condiment became known as Mustum or Mustardum as sour wine was mixed with hot tasting mustard seeds.

The mustard plant
The mustard plant

Use Mustard Spice in your Cooking

There are so many ways in which you can incorporate mustard spice in your cooking. Whether you use ground mustard, mustard seeds, or even prepared mustard, you'll enjoy the slight heat and unique flavor in your marinades, rubs, dressings and more.

I've even included some homemade mustard recipes for you to try out!

Check out the links to the right!

Mustard tastes great with other bold flavors. Whether you go for a stone-ground mustard dip for your pretzels, or a sweet, mustard honey glaze for baked ham, you cannot go wrong.

Growing Mustard Plants

If you want easy (inexpensive) access to mustard seeds, you might want to consider growing your own mustard plants. Fortunately, they are weed-like and can thrive in many environments. No wonder mustard is a spice used world-wide.... it can grow anywhere!

eHow notes that it is super easy to grow mustard in your own garden. Because the plants grow like weeds, you'll want to find an area that is not already occupied by other plants. Give your mustard plants full sun.

1. Plant in early spring, aiming for a late summer or fall harvest. If you are growing from seeds, plant them about 1/2 inch deep, about 3 inches apart. Each row should be about 1 foot separated.

2. After planting, continue to water and fertilize your mustard plants. They will reach maturity about 6 weeks later. Keep other encroaching weeds out of your garden or containers.

3. You can pick mustard greens when they are tender and young, after maturity.

4. For mustard seeds, wait until the plants start to yellow and wilt to harvest. The best time is when pods are still on the plant but before they have burst.


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    • profile image

      alma 3 years ago

      I recently made mac and cheese but didn't know how to use the leftover. Thanks for the ideas.

    • profile image

      Nora 5 years ago

      Ground mustard is an excellent spice to add to deviled egg, gumbo, home-made mac & cheese, spinach dip and potato salad recipes.

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      Steph, There's so much more to mustard than as a standard condiment for hot dogs or hamburgers!

      I especially appreciate that you note that the leaves can be added to salads. I like to include them with an array of other greens, such as spinach and arugula.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Kind regards, Stessily

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      darden88 6 years ago

      Im going to cook something today with mustard, ive never tried it in anything be for so hopefully its really good!!

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Palak - fish curry... yum! I love spicy ground mustard in my sauces and dressings. I'm sure its delicious in curry. Best, Steph

    • Palak Verma profile image

      Palak Verma 6 years ago from Sunnyvale

      Great hub..You know we in India use ground mustard for preparing fish curry.

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      Spice rack 7 years ago


      Your blog gives me an idea about mustard I think I want to have this on my spice rack at home.


    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      I adore mustard, ground mustard is a great addition as you've outlined here today. Thanks for the useful ground mustard tips. :)