Keen as Mustard

After that last post for chili, some of y’all are probably rolling your eyes, nudging one another, and asking yourselves  “does she do EVERYTHING the most difficult way possible? I mean seriously, roast and grind the chiles that you freaking GREW YOURSELF and THEN chop the meat by hand? What is she, like a kitchen masochist?” The simple answer to that question would probably be “yes, sort of.” Just kidding.

I do enjoy the process (she says, not defensively at all). And I don’t really cook many elaborate things. I just like simple things to be really tasty and I like to understand what makes it so. And I’ve found over the years that some of the things that seem intimidating, like mayonnaise for example, aren’t that hard. Homemade mayonnaise takes 10 minutes to make and I’ve not yet had a batch break. So if you have the time and inclination to occasionally put in a bit of extra time, I think it’s worth the reward.

So, for things that seem like “why in the world would you make —– when you can buy it?”, I give you the biggest bang for your $2 and 5 minutes of kitchen time:

Homemade Coarse-grain Mustard

My basic recipe comes completely unedited or adapted from one of my favorite and most aspirational blogs,  Hunter Angler Gardener Cook by Hank Shaw. For simplicity, I’ll include the recipe as I made it here, but do spend some quality time wandering around his archives and you won’t be disappointed. His explanations of the chemical reaction that make “the magic” happen are especially helpful.

The nice thing about making your own mustard, other than it being dead simple and effortless, is its endless adaptability. I can’t wait to make some with apricot preserves, Belgian beer, black mustard seeds, smooth mustard powder, or balsamic vinegar. This one has a lot of heat, probably because I used really cold water, but a honey mustard with a bitter-sweet buckwheat honey sounds intriguing too.

Here are the basics:

makes about 1 cup

about 5 minutes active, 12 hours passive prep time

– 6 tablespoons mustard seeds

– 1/2 cup mustard powder

– 2 teaspoons salt

– 3 tablespoons vinegar (2 cider, 1 sherry)

– 1/2 cup very cold water

In a small coffee/spice grinder (or with a mortar and pestle) blitz the whole mustard seeds until they are about 3/4 cracked, but not powdered. Mix the mustard seeds, mustard powder and salt. Pour the vinegar and cold water over it and mix thoroughly. Spoon into a jar and refrigerate for 12 hours before consuming.

After I stood, gazing in disbelief at the jar as I put it in the fridge this morning at how ridiculously EASY it was to make, I let it sit and stew all day. Pulling it out for a taste tonight was the real litmus. And it is really good! Sinus-clearingly hot, fresh and spicy, it tastes like a chewy pretzel’s soul mate. I’m not making pretzels by the way. I buy those. What do you think I am, a glutton for punishment?

P.S.-

Since I had an extra 5 minutes after writing this post, I made another half batch of mustard:

Figgy Mustard

-3 tablespoons mustard seeds

-1/4 cup mustard powder

-1 teaspoon salt

-1 heaped tablespoon fig preserves

-2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

  -2 teaspoons fig balsamic vinegar

-1/4 cup room temperature water, to minimize the heat.

After sitting overnight, it is a lovely spicy/sweet mustard that will be perfect on some broiled smoked sausages.

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11 thoughts on “Keen as Mustard

  1. I’ve ground the mustard finely, then added a mix of course ground hot peppers and a green pepper and honey. Talk about spicy and sweet. . . yum

  2. I have a huge amount of mustard seed lying around after a Penzy’s shopping frenzy, so I’m assuming I can just grind some of the seeds down to powder and then crack the rest. I’m also partial to pickled mustard seeds via Tom Colicchio: take five to six oz of mustard seed, one cup of white wine vinegar, one cup sugar, and one tablespoon of dry mustard, and simmer for about five minutes. The seeds swell up or bloom, and develop a consistency like caviar.

    • Yes, you can even grind all of the seeds down to a powder if you want a smoother mustard. I can relate to the Penzey’s shopping frenzy; spices take up rather a lot of my cabinet space. And the pickled mustard seeds are on my “to try soon” list- i bet they would be awesome with pork and cabbage-thanks!

    • If you’ve ever used mustard seeds in cooking, you know they don’t have that characteristic burn that a spicy mustard has. Mustard seeds have to be cracked and combined with cold water for the chemical reaction to take place that makes mustard hot. Heat damages that chemical reaction between myrosin and sinigrin. So the colder the water, the more intense the reaction. Adding an acid like vinegar arrests the chemical reaction and stabilizes the flavor of the mustard.

  3. I’ve been making it using my various homemade vinegars: blackcurrant, spruce, maple, etc. It’s such an amazing treat, and can be tailored to match with almost anything.

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