The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, vinegar, lemon juice, wine, or other liquids, salt, and often other flavorings and spices, to create a paste or sauce ranging in color from bright yellow to dark brown. The taste of mustard ranges from sweet to spicy.
Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is added to sandwiches, hamburgers, corn dogs, and hot dogs. It is also used as an ingredient in many dressings, glazes, sauces, soups, and marinades. As a cream or as individual seeds, mustard is used as a condiment in the cuisine of India and Bangladesh, the Mediterranean, northern and southeastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa, making it one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world.
The English word "mustard" derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde (Modern French is moutarde). The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, ("must", young wine) - the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens, (hot, flaming). It was first attested in English in the late 13th century, though it was found as a surname a century earlier.
The Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice (the must) with ground mustard seeds (called sinapis) to make "burning must", mustum ardens -- hence "must ard". A recipe for mustard appears in De re coquinaria, the anonymously compiled Roman cookbook from the late 4th or early 5th century; the recipe calls for a mixture of ground mustard, pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish sauce, and oil, and was intended as a glaze for spit-roasted boar. (Mustard was being used in curries in Asian countries well before Romans started using it. Romans experimented with using mustard paste)
The Romans likely exported mustard seed to Gaul, and by the 10th century, monks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production. The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292.Dijon, France, became a recognized center for mustard making by the 13th century. The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 320 litres (70 imp gal) of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336. In 1777, one of the most famous Dijon mustard makers, Grey-Poupon, was established as a partnership between Maurice Grey, a mustard maker with a unique recipe containing white wine; and Auguste Poupon, his financial backer. Their success was aided by the introduction of the first automatic mustard-making machine. In 1937, Dijon mustard was granted an Appellation d'origine contrôlée. Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world.
The early use of mustard as a condiment in England is attested from the year 1390 in the book The Forme of Cury which was written by King Richard II's master cooks. It was prepared in the form of mustard balls -- coarse-ground mustard seed combined with flour and cinnamon, moistened, rolled into balls, and dried -- which were easily stored and combined with vinegar or wine to make mustard paste as needed. The town of Tewkesbury was well known for its high-quality mustard balls, originally made with ground mustard mixed with horseradish and dried for storage, which were then exported to London and other parts of the country, and are even mentioned in William Shakespeare's play King Henry the Fourth, Part II.
The use of mustard as a hot dog condiment was first said to be seen in the US at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when the bright-yellow French's mustard was introduced by the R.T. French Company.
Mustard is most often used at the table as a condiment on cold meats. It is also used as an ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinades, and barbecue sauce. Mustard is also a popular accompaniment to hot dogs, pretzels, and bratwurst. In the Netherlands and northern Belgium it is commonly used to make mustard soup; which includes mustard, cream, parsley, garlic and pieces of salted bacon. Mustard as an emulsifier can stabilize a mixture of two or more immiscible liquids, such as oil and water. Added to Hollandaise sauce, mustard can inhibit curdling.
The amounts of various nutrients in mustard seed are to be found in the USDA National Nutrient Database. As a condiment, mustard averages approximately 5 calories per teaspoon. Some of the many vitamins and nutrients found in mustard seeds are selenium and omega 3 fatty acid.
The many varieties of prepared mustards have a wide range of strengths and flavors, depending on the variety of mustard seed and the preparation method. The basic taste and "heat" of the mustard are determined largely by seed type, preparation and ingredients. Preparations from the white mustard plant (Sinapis alba) have a less pungent flavor than preparations of black mustard (Brassica nigra) or brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). The temperature of the water and concentration of acids such as vinegar also determine the strength of a prepared mustard; hotter liquids and stronger acids denature the enzymes that make the strength-producing compounds. Thus, "hot" mustard is made with cold water, whereas using hot water produces a milder condiment, all else being equal.
The mustard plant ingredient itself has a sharp, hot, pungent flavor.
Mixing ground mustard seeds with water causes a chemical reaction between two compounds in the seed: the enzyme myrosinase and various glucosinolates such as sinigrin, myrosin, and sinalbin. The myrosinase enzyme turns the glucosinolates into various isothiocyanate compounds known generally as mustard oil. The concentrations of different glucosinolates in mustard plant varieties, and the different isothiocyanates that are produced, make different flavors and intensities.
Prepared mustard condiment may also have ingredients giving salty, sour (vinegar), and sweet flavors. Turmeric is often added to commercially prepared mustards, mainly to give them a yellow color.
Prepared mustard is sold in glass jars, plastic bottles, or metal squeeze tubes. Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration for safety; it will not grow mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria. Mustard can last indefinitely without becoming inedible or harmful, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation. Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar may improve dried-out mustard. Some types of prepared mustard stored for a long time may separate, which can be corrected by stirring or shaking. If stored unrefrigerated for a long time, mustard can acquire a bitter taste.
When whole mustard seeds are wetted and crushed, an enzyme is activated that releases pungent sulphurous compounds; but they quickly evaporate. An acidic liquid, such as wine or vinegar, produces a longer-lasting paste. However, even then prepared mustard loses its pungency over time; the loss can be slowed by keeping a sealed container (opaque or in the dark) in a cool place or refrigerator.
Locations renowned for their mustard include Dijon (medium-strength) and Meaux in France; Norwich (very hot) and Tewkesbury's mustard, in the United Kingdom; and Düsseldorf (hot) and Bavaria in Germany. They vary in the subsidiary spices and in the preparation of the mustard seeds. The mustard husks may be ground with the seeds, or winnowed away after the initial crushing; "whole-grain mustard" retains some unground or partially ground mustard seeds. Bavarian sweet mustard contains very little acid, substituting copious amounts of sugar for preservation. The Tecuci mustard from Romania is a sweet variety very popular in Eastern Europe and is suitable for barbecued meats such as mititei. Sometimes prepared mustard is simmered to moderate its bite, and sometimes it is aged. Irish mustard is a whole-grain mustard blended with whiskey, stout (commonly Guinness), or honey.
Hot table mustard may easily be prepared by the home cook by mixing "powdered mustard" (ground mustard seed, turmeric and wheat flour) to the desired consistency with water or an acidic liquid such as wine, vinegar, or beer, and leaving to stand for ten minutes. It is usually prepared immediately before a meal; mustard prepared with water, in particular, is more pungent but deteriorates rapidly.
The most commonly used mustard in the United States - and tied with Dijon in Canada - is American mustard sold as "yellow mustard" (although most prepared mustards are yellow) and commonly referred to as just "mustard". A very mild prepared mustard colored bright yellow from turmeric powder, it was supposedly introduced in 1904 by George J. French as "cream salad mustard". American mustard is regularly used to top hot dogs, sandwiches, pretzels and hamburgers. It is also an ingredient of many potato salads, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings. It is commonly referred to as "hot dog", "ball park", "yellow", "sunshine" or "prepared" mustard for these applications. In Austria it is called "americanische senf" (American mustard), and is regarded as much milder than local varieties.
Spicy brown mustard is also commonly used in the United States. The seeds are coarsely ground, giving it a speckled brownish-yellow appearance. In general, it is spicier than American mustard. Some "Deli-style" mustard incorporates horseradish which actually makes it a little spicier than spicy brown. A variety popular in Louisiana is called Creole mustard. Typically Creole mustard is much coarser than Spicy Brown.
Beer mustard, which uses beer instead of vinegar, allegedly originated in the 20th century somewhere in the United States Midwest and has remained a popular local condiment.
Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon replaced the usual ingredient of vinegar with verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of unripe grapes. Most mustards from Dijon today contain white wine rather than verjuice.
"Dijon mustard" is not a protected food name. While mustard factories still operate in Dijon and adjoining towns, most mustard described as "Dijon" is manufactured elsewhere. Even that produced in France is made almost exclusively from Canadian mustard seed.
In whole-grain mustard, also known as granary mustard, the seeds are mixed whole with other ingredients. Different flavors and strengths can be achieved through different blends of mustard seed species. Groningen mustard is an example of a mustard with partially ground grains.
Along with Karashi, English mustard is one of the hottest in the world. It is bright yellow in color with a thicker consistency than the mild American mustard. The most famous brand of English mustard is Colman's, who first produced their variety in 1814 as a powder in their yellow tin. William Taylor, based in Newport Pagnell was the first person to sell English mustard in a ready prepared format in 1830.
This dark brown, mild and tangy/sweet mustard, despite its name, is not French in origin. "French" mustard is particular to the UK and was invented by Colman's in 1936. It became a popular accompaniment to steak in particular. Colman's ceased production of French mustard in 2001 after Unilever, who now own Colman's, were ordered to stop selling it by the EU, following its takeover of rival mustard-maker Amora Maille in 2000. Many British supermarkets still offer their own version of French mustard.
Honey mustard, as its name suggests, is a blend of mustard and honey, typically mixed in a 1:1 ratio. It is commonly used both on sandwiches, and as a dip for finger foods such as chicken strips. It can also be combined with vinegar or olive oil to make a salad dressing.
Chili peppers of various strengths are used to make a variety of mustards more piquant than plain mustard. Peppers or hot sauce made from peppers are added to mustards of different base styles such as yellow mustard, brown mustard or spirited mustards.
Fruit and mustard have been combined since the Lombard creation of mostarda di frutta in the 14th century. Large chunks of fruit preserved in a sweet, hot mustard syrup were served with meat and game, and were said to be a favorite of the Dukes of Milan. Traditional variations of fruit mustards include apple mustard (traditional in Mantua and very hot), quince mostarda (or mostarda vicentina, mild and with a jam-like appearance) and cherry mustard. In various areas of Italy, the term mostarda refers to sweet condiments made with fruit, vegetables and mosto, grape juice that gets simmered until syrupy.
The term hot mustard is used for mustards prepared to bring out the natural piquancy of the mustard seeds. This is enhanced by using pungent black or brown mustard seeds rather than the white mustard seeds used to make mild mustards.
Spirited mustards are made with alcoholic spirits. Variations include Arran mustards with whisky, brandied peach mustard, cognac mustard, Irish "pub" mustard with whiskey, and Jack Daniel's mustard.
Sweet mustard is from Bavaria, made from kibbled mustard seed and sweetened with sugar, apple sauce or honey. It is typically served with Weißwurst or Leberkäse. Weisswurstsenf, mustard for weisswursts, is the most frequent name for this sweet mustard. There are regional differences within Bavaria toward the combination of sweet mustard and Leberkäse. Other types of sweet mustards are known in Austria and Switzerland.
Brown mustard is a spice that was cultivated in the Indus Valley Civilization and is one of the important spices used in the Indian subcontinent today. Kasundi is a popular Bengali spicy relish of mustard. There are many different kinds of Kasundi available. It is used during regular meals and with a variety of fruits and street food.
Any part of the mustard plant can also, rarely, cause allergic reactions in some people, including anaphylaxis. Since 2005, pre-packed food in the European Union must show on its label if it contains mustard.