Going with the grain: Making mustard

Posted: September 20, 2012

Prepared mustards range widely in texture, color, and flavor because mustard-makers have long sought to put their own unique spin on the product.

Producers choose the mustard seed - white, brown, black - and determine how finely the seeds will be ground or crushed. For some, the choice is governed by personal taste or commercial appeal. For others, the seed is determined as a matter of law.

To make prepared mustards, the ground seeds are mixed with a liquid - often water, white wine, beer, or vinegar - to form a paste. Distinctive flavors are developed by stirring in various other ingredients, which might include spices, herbs, pureed vegetables, even crystallized fruit.

What we choose in the mustard aisle can range from the very mild, yellow American mustard squirted on countless charred hot dogs at backyard barbecues to the sinus-clearing blast of an English mustard freshly made from mustard powder and cold water.

Home cooks who would like to make their own mustard can find a number of recipes in The Mustard Book, by Rosamond Man and Robin Weir.

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