Does mustard cut it for you?
Mustard, it’s a little like Marmite, you either love it or hate it! Some us just have to have on hotdogs or burgers and many dishes would not taste quite the same without it.
Measuring between 1 to 2 mm in diameter, the seeds come from three types of mustard plants; black, brown Indian and white or yellow mustard. Generally, the seeds are ground down and salt, water, vinegar and lemon juice and spices are added to make the savoury paste.
Mustard was first created by the ancient Romans when mustard seeds were ground into a spreadable paste and then mixed with wine and spices. French monks used unfermented wine called ‘must’ and this inspired the name of mustard from the Latin mustum ardens ‘burning wine’.
Dijon, France was recognised as a mustard making centre from the 13th century, though other mustard makers appeared on the royal register from 1292. It was the Duke of Burgundy who enjoyed and consumed loads of mustard – he never went anywhere without it!
It was in 1777 that Dijon mustard makers, Maurice Grey, developed a unique mustard recipe which had white wine in it. The project was funded by Auguste Poupon which led to the production of Grey Poupon mustard. The adverts were well known for using Rolls Royce cars, posh accents and generally purporting their mustard reflected this lifestyle.
Although the names of many of the mustard manufacturers have changed and have relocated, Dijon is still considered the birthplace of mustard. Today, however, Dijon mustard can be made anywhere in the world.
Here are some Mustard facts:
- Dijon Mustard contains just 4 calories per teaspoon
- Mustard is the second most consumed sauce in the US with 16 gallons of it eaten on hotdogs and burgers during the baseball season in the Yankee Stadium!
- Mustard is actually a plant, as opposed to prepared mustard which is a condiment
- Brocolli, turnips, cabbage and cauliflour are close relatives of mustard plants
- Egyptian pharaohs stocked their tombs with mustard seeds for their afterlife
- Other regional mustard varieties include American, English, French, Bavarian sweet, Italian fruit, Midwestern Beer, Creole and several German versions.
- Together, Canada and Nepal’s crops are used for more than half of the world’s mustard production.
- The colour of mustard is not from the seed. It’s from turmeric, added for extra spice and to add brightness.
- You don’t need to fridge mustard – its spiciness could reduce over time, but the ingredients are unlikely to go off.
- Mustard’s pungency and heat comes from enzymes that convert into mustard oil when the seed coating is broken by crushing.
- The effect of the nasal-clearing burn is actually a natural defence against insects
- Yellow mustard seeds are the mildest of all the seeds. Brown and black seeds are much hotter and more pungent.
- The mildest mustards with the longest shelf life are made with yellow mustard seeds and vinegar. The hottest and more pungent mustards are made with black or brown mustard seeds and cold water.
- Mustard has anti-inflammatory properties:
- It was used by the Greeks to ease muscle pain, clear the sinuses, treat toothache and help blood circulation.
- French Monks used the mustard paste to treat wounds.
Mustard is just one of the many ingredients stocked in the Gascony Cookery School Kitchen. We’d love to share to our tasty recipes with you while you learn all about French cooking.
David & Bernard