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
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.
- Grind mustard seed into a powder.
- 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.
Sorry no time to wait for permission
mustard making sounds like a fun thing to do with others or for gifts.
Many thanks, Vin
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.
There is more Jones in the archives: February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 December 2009 January 2010 May 2014