Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How to make mustard

This season I made little pots of homemade mustard as Christmas gifts for all my friends and family. It went over really well like homemade gifts usually do. I was surprised to learn how easy mustard is to make.

The recipe is super simple.

  1. Grind mustard seed into a powder.
  2. Mix with a liquid.

Okay, I admit, any ol' craptacular mustard follows that recipe. The good mustards will involve a little more nuance than that.

Start with the mustard seeds. I found mine at the local health food store. They come in two basic varieties, yellow seeds and brown seeds. The yellow ones have a milder flavor and the brown ones have some spicy kick to them. I found blending the two types of seeds creates some interesting flavors depending on what sort of mustard you are trying to make.

Next there is the grinding part. I tried using a mortar and pestle and found it to be a pain in the butt. An electric spice grinder is much more efficient. The mortar and pestle does have the advantage of making a better coarse grind, that can add some interesting texture into your mustard. You can also buy the stuff pre-ground as mustard flour or mustard powder. It is usually the yellow seed sold this way and the grind is much finer than anything I achieved with my little spice grinder. Helpful hint: Clean your spice grinder by blowing it out with a can of compressed air. The kind of stuff geeks use to clean dust off electronics. This is a bazillioin times easier than soap and water.

Now comes the liquid part, there is a lot of room for creativity here. The most common liquids used in mustard are water and vinegar. If you need a quick sauce for cooking up mustard glazed pork chops, just mix mustard powder with white vinegar in about a 1:1 ratio and you are all set. But if you are looking for a nicer sandwich garnish you should take a little more care. I spent a lot of time experimenting with the different types of vinegar available. White vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar. Lot's of choices and each one gives a different flavor.

There are more liquids to choose from too. Use wine to make Dijon mustard, beer makes a hearty sauce, honey makes a popular sweet mustard. I even experimented with fruit juices and came up with a great apple mustard using concentrated apple juice. The possibilities are endless.

There is also some nuance to the application of your liquid. The flavor of the mustard is brought out when the liquid activates the enzymes in the mustard seed. Those enzymes are going to react in some unpredictable ways if your liquid is too acidic. Vinegar is usually about 5% acidic. What this means is that you could mix the same amount of mustard with the same amount of vinegar two different times and get two different flavors depending on how those enzymes and that acid react to each other. To get consistent flavor you should activate your mustard with a PH neutral liquid like water. I mix my mustard powder with water at about two parts powder to one part water and make a thick paste. Let this stand for about 10 minutes. After this add whatever vinegar or liquid you want for flavor until it is the desired consistency. This way your recipe will taste the same each time you make it.

Now for some more fun and creativity. Mustard powder does not have to be the only dry ingredient. Add some spices to that bad daddy. A dash of salt helps the flavor. Some garlic powder can zest it up a little. Pepper, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, basil, rosemary, cinnamon. Woo hoo, your spice rack is the gateway to some interesting and unique mustards.

The king of all mustard spices has got to be turmeric. This is the ingredient that gives the store bought hot dog mustard its bright yellow color and unique flavor. I have shared my mustards with some people that don't like mustard and I have discovered that what they usually don't like is the flavor of the turmeric. Without it the mustard is a brown color instead of yellow and the flavor is remarkably different. The mustard haters I know consistently turned up their noses at the bright yellow mustards with turmeric and raved about the brown mustards without. If there is a mustard hater in your family try turning them on to a brown mustard and see if they like it.

So if you have been playing along at home and have mixed some mustard powder with some liquid and created a sauce, the next step is to taste it. If you have done that already, please don't hate me. Pretty nasty stuff huh? Your fresh made batch of mustard is going to taste very strong and a little nasty. Don't panic. Remember those enzymes you activated? Well now they have to age. Leave your mustard sitting on the counter at room temperature for at least a week to ten days. The strong flavor will mellow and it will mature into a nice and yummy sauce. Have some faith. The longer you let it age the more the flavor will mellow. Taste it every few days to follow its progress. If you are after a mild mustard you may want to let it age for a month or more; for a hot and spicy mustard, not so much. As soon as it mellows to a flavor and spiciness you like, move it to the fridge.

Refrigeration is not necessary for most mustard. Mustard seed is naturally resistant to molds and the acidity in the vinegar helps too. But if it continues to sit at room temperature it will continue to age and mellow. To keep a mustard spicy, put it in the fridge. Many commercial mustards and some more interesting mustard recipes have ingredients like egg whites. You will want to put these in the fridge. My apple mustard kept better under refrigeration. Pay attention to the ingredients you are using, if you added fresh garlic or jalapenos or fresh spices you will probably want to move the mustard to refrigeration sooner rather than later.

One last word about utensils and containers. Avoid metal. Mustard is pretty corrosive and if you put it in a jar with a metal lid or use metal spoons or utensils when you make it, the metal can corrode and harm the flavor of the sauce. Glass, plastic and porcelain are safe bets.

And that's it. That is everything I know about mustard. I had the most fun experimenting with different ingredients. I found that it is easy to experiment with small batches, about two tablespoons of mustard powder and the same for your liquid to see if you like the recipe. If it's good, multiply the portions for your next batch, if it sucks you can flush it down the drain for no big loss.

Enjoy your mustard. I like mine with pretzels. I know that I will never blow $3.95 for a small pot of deli mustard ever again.

Montana Jones' yumtastic hot dog mustard
2 Tbsp Ground yellow mustard seed
1 tsp Ground brown mustard seed
Add 1 1/2 Tbsp water, blend to a thick paste and let sit for 10 minutes.
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

For thinner mustard add a couple drops more vinegar, let age for a week or so.

Kokanee™ Beer Mustard
1 Tbsp yellow mustard seed
1 Tbsp brown mustard seed
Briefly grind to a very coarse grind.
Drown the coarse ground mustard seed with an excess of apple cider vinegar. Let sit overnight until the seed has absorbed all the liquid it possibly can then drain any extra liquid. You will be left with a thick goop.

In a new container:
1 1/2 Tbsp fine ground yellow mustard seed
add 1 Tbsp water, blend to a thick paste and let sit for 10 minutes.
Add 1 Tbsp of the apple cider mustard goop.
Dash of salt.
1 Tbsp Kokanee™ beer.

Age for at least a week.

Sweet and Spicy Apple Mustard
2 Tbsp ground brown mustard seed
2 Tbsp ground yellow mustard seed
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp concentrated apple juice

Thin to the desired consistency with more concentrated apple juice. Age for two or three weeks and then refrigerate.

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I was hoping you would include your recipe for Apple Mustard, it sounds yummy!
Once again, Jones you rock!
I'm linking to this page. If you have a problem with it. Let me know.

Sorry no time to wait for permission
appreciate the technical details to be aware of in making mustard. i will try a small batch today since i ran out of my expensive organic variety.

mustard making sounds like a fun thing to do with others or for gifts.
Just found your site after making some mustard from the powder - it tasted very nasty and now I understand why after reading your help page. Looking forward to it maturing and have lots of powder to play with - bought a large pot of it from Makro in Sheffield!
Many thanks, Vin
What did I do wrong???? I ground brown and yellow mustard seeds, added water and waited a week. The smell is horrible -- like something rotten.
excellent post, thank you very much for sharing - peace for all
Very informative, I'm looking to make some jars to mustard and other spices as Christmas gifts this year and that answered all of my questions. Thank you!!
awsome mustard help! thanks
great post, been experimenting with lavander mustard - some useful tips thanks
I made mustard from the recipe below and it was awful, not edible at all. Bitter, nasty, terrible. And I made a huge batch to give as gifts. If you can see what's wrong with the recipe, I'd appreciate any feedback. I'm going to experiment using your suggestions, and small amounts!!

2 1/4 c yellow mustard seeds
3/4 c brown mustard seeds
2 1/2 c cider vinegar
1 1/2 c water
1 head roasted garlic
1/2 c pure maple syrup
2 T salt
soak the seeds in the vinegar and water over night. Place seeds and garlic in processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse mustard. Stir in syrup and salt.
Think just by looking at the recipe there is way too much cider vinegar and garlic, I would cut them in half.
Have you thought of adding a bit of ginger to jazz it up? Shall try your recipe, plus ginger.Pat F.
Recruiting remedies, try aging your mustard. according to the original post, it needs to age at LEAST a week, maybe even a month.
I am not a mustard eater but my husband and son are. I may try without the tumeric and see how I like it. Going to make some this weekend will post the results. Thanks
Great post! VERY helpful. My two cents on cleaning out the spice grinder: a couple tablespoons of rice. Grind it to powder and toss it. It will scour the grinder clean and is great for cleaning out oily residue such as cloves or orange peel.
I am looking for my memories through the stories, the narrative of people. I feel it is difficult but I will try.

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