M is for Mustard

 6 Mustards

“if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”


Mustard has been cultivated for most of recorded human history.  It has been found in the archaeological remains of latrines and cooking pot residue from as far back as the Stone Age, and people were grinding it into a powder and mixing it into a sauce well before the Romans were taking over the world.

“Ancient Egyptians usually, ancient Romans frequently, and ancient hindus probably popped a few seeds into their mouths while chewing meat, which was thus seasoned automatically.  With or without meat in the mouth, mustard seeds do not sear the palate, as you might expect; they are on the contrary pleasantly nutty to chew, with only a delicate tang of the sometimes fiery flavor of commercial mustard.”
From: Food by Waverly Root

This 15th century recipe from Italy creates little traveling balls of mustard.  Once dried, you could carry them in your pouch and moisten them with a bit of wine or vinegar for a ready sauce on the road.  (Think about stopping at a random Inn or Tavern and eating whatever they had cooking in the pot!)

Mustard Balls
15th Century Traveling Mustard Balls


15. Mustard Sauce in Bits , Platina
“Mix mustard and well-pounded raisins, a little cinnamon and cloves, and make little balls or bits from this mixture.   When they have dried on a board, carry them with you whenever you want. Where there is a need, soak in verjuice or vinegar or must.”


Mustard is super simple to make, as easy as grinding yellow or brown mustard seeds and mixing them with a little vinegar for a quick sharp sauce.  You can cook it, steep it and age it, add other ingredients and dress it up however you like. Experiment a little and you will be amazed at the results.

Mixed Mustard.  Boston Cooking-School Cook Book 1896
“Mix two tablespoons mustard and one teaspoon sugar, add hot water gradually until of the consistency of a thick paste.  Vinegar may be used in place of water.”

“From three things may he Lord preserve us:
From valets much too proud to serve us;
From women smeared with heavy fard, good grief!
From lack of mustard when we eat corned beef.”

“Devilled” foods came into popularity in the mid 1700’s; something being devilled meant it was hot from the addition of mustard or other spices.

Mustard Station
Mustard Display at a Relishing History class

Deviled Sauce
(Joy of Cooking, 1943)
1/3 cup vinegar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dry mustard

Dijon with Verjus
Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic “green” juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe. Mustards from Dijon today generally contain both white wine and burgundy wine, and most mustards marketed as Dijon style today contain one or both of these ingredients.

American Mustard
Also called ballpark mustard or yellow mustard due to its bright color, this mildest-flavored mustard is popular at ball parks as a favored condiment for hot dogs. It is made with white mustard seeds mixed with salt, spices and vinegar, usually with turmeric added to enhance the bright color. This style was first manufactured in 1904 by George T. French as “Cream Salad Mustard,” and has become the standard for yellow mustard in America.

(One of my students told me a joke today and I promised I would put it in this blog post: Why did the mustard run so fast in the race?  It wanted to ketchup!  LOL )

Maille Mustard on Tap at the Culinary Expo
Maille Mustard on Tap at the IACP 2013 Culinary Expo

When I was out in San Francisco for the IACP conference last year, there was a display in the Culinary Expo with a Mustard Tap.  It dispensed Maille Mustard in a smooth, creamy flow.  Just what every mustard connoisseur needs!

Whether you enjoy yellow ballpark mustard on a hot dog, spicy brown mustard on a soft pretzel, grainy French country mustard on fine cheese, or a honey mustard dressing on your salad, mustard is one of the most adaptable of spices.
What is your favorite mustard, and what do you put it on?  Share in the comments section!

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