mustards are several species in the genus Brassica whose proverbially
tiny mustard seeds are used as
a spice and, by grinding
and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into a condiment
also known as mustard. The seeds are also pressed to make mustard oil,
and the leaves can be eaten as mustard greens.
mustard (Brassica hirta) grows wild in North Africa,
the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe and
has spread farther by long cultivation; brown or Indian
mustard (B. juncea), originally from the foothills of the Himalaya, is grown
commercially in the U.K., Canada and the U.S.; black mustard (B. nigra)
in Argentina, Chile, the U.S. and some European
countries. Canada grows 90% of all the mustard seed for the international market.
addition to the mustards, the genus Brassica also includes cabbages, cauliflower, rapeseed and turnips.
"bite" of mustard seeds, which likely
a deterrent to seed-eating rodents and birds, made mustard one of the first
spices known to man. Mustard seed is found in Egyptian tombs. Mustard seed was
already proverbially small in the Upanishads (Chandogya
3.14.2-3) and was so common in India that when a woman whose child had died came
to the Buddha and asked that he return
the child to life, the Buddha asked her to go out into the community and bring
back to him a single mustard seed taken from a house where no person had died.
Jesus's parable of
the mustard seed was reported by Matthew (13:31-32), Mark (4:30-32) and Luke (13:18-19).
pungent taste of mustard seeds results from an oil that is not actually present
in the seeds. When mixed with water (or chewed), a chemical reaction occurs between
an enzyme and a glucoside from the seeds, resulting
in the production of the oil allyl isothiocyanate.
mustard is a thick condiment, a yellow or yellow-brown
paste with a sharp taste that is prepared from the
ground mustard seeds, by mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, and
adding ingredients such as flour. A strong mustard can cause the eyes to water,
burn the palate
and inflame the nasal
passages. For this reason, mustard is an acquired taste.
Romans most likely developed
the prepared mustards we know today. They mixed unfermented grape juice, known as
"must" with ground seeds (called sinapis) to form mustum ardens,
or "burning must".
are many varieties of mustard, which vary in strength and flavour. Places known
for their mustard include Dijon (strong) and Meaux in France, and Norwich in the United Kingdom.
There are variations in the subsidiary spices and in the preparation of the mustard
seeds. The husks may be ground with the seeds, or winnowed away after the initial
crushing; "whole-grain mustard" retains some unground mustard seeds. Sometimes
prepared mustard is simmered to moderate its bite, sometimes it is aged.
mustard is not covered by a Designation
of Origin (PDO) or a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) (http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/qual/en/1bbab_en.htmProtected)
under the auspices of the European Union. Dijon mustard is simply a method of
preparing ground mustard seeds, using Brown mustard. Nor does "Dijon mustard"
have an origin in medieval monasteries: In 1856, Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted
verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for the older vinegar.
Mustards are often prepared with some subsidiary spices like cloves, but in the past adulterants
were so commonplace that in 1658 French law proscribed all mustard-making
for sale except from certified makers.
is most often used as a condiment on meat, especially cold meats such as ham;
the French like strong Dijon mustard with steak. It is also used as an ingredient
in mayonnaise and vinaigrette, in marinades and
brands of mustard are Plochman's (since 1852) and French's (Robert Timothy
French, 1880) in the
United States; Amora and Maille (since 1747) in France; and Colman's (Jeremiah Colman, 1804) in the U.K.
was not popular in American cooking until mild "mustard sauce" using white (actually
yellow) mustard seeds, with some additional turmeric for bright yellow coloring,
was made commercially available. "Honey Dijon" appeals in the U.S. to a national
taste for sweetness in unexpected sources. In the U.S., very mild prepared mustard
is often used as a condiment in combination with ketchup.
greens, the leaves of the mustard plant, are one of the greens considered to
be an essential element in soul food. They are more pungent
than the closely-related Brassica oleracea
greens (kale, cabbage, collard greens, et cetera)
and are very frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of "mixed greens",
which can also often include wild greens such as dandelion. As
with other greens in soul food cooking, they are generally flavored by being cooked
for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard
greens are extremely high in Vitamin A and Vitamin K