Thursday, October 29, 2009

Veggie Might: Make Your Own Mustard

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

What do you do when you need a quick meal, have veggie dogs leftover from camping, but the only mustard is the fancy balsamic garlic mustard you picked up in at the New England Maple Museum in Vermont? (Oh, we’ll visit there again, CHG campers, don’t you worry.)

If you’re me, you wonder if you could make your own mustard out the beaucoup yellow powder taking over your spice cabinet. (Then you eat the veggie dog with the fancy mustard.) But it got me investigatin’.

I read up on mustard making at Mother Earth News, a blog called Montana Jones, and the trusty How to Cook Everything Vegetarian cookbook by Mark Bittman.

Turns out, you get pretty weak mustard from just adding water and vinegar to commercial mustard powder. But with only a touch more effort, you can get some sinus-clearingly fantastic mustard with yellow and brown mustard seeds.

Chow simplifies the mustard seed situation better than anyone, but here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Yellow mustard seeds can vary in color from brownish yellow to white. Yellow mustard seeds are best known and most readily available to Americans.
  • Brown mustard seeds are dark brown or black and easily found in spice shops and Indian groceries.
  • Black mustard seeds also range from dark brown to black but are smaller, more pungent than the other two varieties, and primarily used in Indian cooking. Black mustard seeds will also confuse your enemies!
The making is simple: soak the mustard seeds in the water, vinegar, spice mix for a few hours to overnight, puree, and TADA! Mustard. The nuances are only slightly more complicated.

Mustard loses its power over time. If it’s too strong at first, let it sit a while—a few hours up to a week—before you serve. Store your homemade mustard in glass, ceramic, or even plastic containers. Mustard will ingest a metal container. Mmm….ore-y. Fresh ingredients will affect shelf life, but homemade mustard will keep for a couple of months or longer.

Whether you use a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle, Mark Bittman warns you will not get commercial smoothness with home equipment. He’s right, as far as I can tell, but I like mine with a coarse texture.

I made two batches and let them sit overnight: one just straight-up the MB way, though I used garlic powder instead of fresh, and one with horseradish. Both were explosivo when I zapped them in the morning before work but had mellowed to perfection by lunchtime. My tofu sandwich rocked my socks.

Once you have the basic recipe down, you can be creative and experiment with spices and sweeteners. Soon you’ll be making your own fancy mustard and selling them at museums all across the northeast.


If you like this recipe, you might always like:

Spicier Brown Mustard
Yields 8 oz, or approximately 24 teaspoons
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
NOTE: Alas, Leigh’s camera perished in Lake George last week. This placeholder photo comes from Cookthink. It's a nice site, and you should visit there.

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Generous pinch of salt

Horseradish Mustard
Yields 8 oz, or approximately 24 teaspoons

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2-inch cube of fresh horseradish, chopped
Generous pinch of salt

Instructions are the same for each recipe.

1) Combine ingredients in a glass or ceramic container with a lid. Plastic is okay, but metal is a no-no.

2) Let stand overnight or at least 2–3 hours.

3) Puree in a blender or food processor until the desired consistency is reached. (I tried one batch in each and found the blender to have a slight edge on smoothness.) Add a drizzle of water to keep the blades whirling.

4) Pour back into glass container and let it mellow for a day or so.

5) Serve on your favorite sandwich or veggie dog and know spicy mustard.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price per Serving
9.2 calories, 0.5g fat, 0.3g fiber, $0.02

Calculations (for horseradish version)
2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds: 104 calories, 6g fat, 4g fiber, $.19
2 tbsp brown mustard seeds: 104 calories, 6g fat, 4g fiber, $.19
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar: 12.5 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, $.04
1/2” cube of horseradish: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.07
[1/2 tsp garlic powder: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02]
generous pinch of salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $.02
TOTALS: 220 calories,12g fat, 8g fiber, $.51
PER SERVING (TOTALS/24): 9.2 calories, .5g fat, .3g fiber, $.02

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