The Main Mustard Ingredient
The main ingredient for any mustard is mustard seeds. There are white, yellow, brown and black seeds which come from the mustard plant. The most commonly found is the creamy yellow type, which is the least pungent. The brown type (or Indian mustard) is stronger in flavour, while the black mustard seed is the most powerful of all.
Whole mustard seeds have a pleasant nutty bite to them and can be used to add piquancy to salad dressing and hot sauces. They are especially good when served with fish, chicken and pork and are also delicious added to creamy potato salad, pickles and chutneys.
If you are new to using mustard seeds(especially the two hotter varieties) try with discretion to begin with, increasing the amount as you become more familiar with the flavours.
Dry mustard can be used as it is in cooking, or it may be mixed to a paste with a little warm water. Once mixed it should be left at least 10 minutes to allow time for the flavours to develop. It is only when the powder is mixed with a liquid that the essential oils are released, giving mustard its pungency and sensation of heat.
Types of Mustard
The variety of ready-prepared mustards come in a bewildering number of mouth-watering flavours. These can be made from milled mustard flour or from coarsely crushed seed (the proportions of which vary depending on the type). Some are mixed with vinegar, others with grape juice or wine (and sometimes beer), and often contain various spices, herbs and seasonings, such as honey and horseradish.
English mustard is made from the yellow seed processed with black seeds, wheat flour and turmeric.
German mustard, which is mild and sweet-flavoured, is a mixture of brown and white mustard flour moistened with vinegar and flavoured with various spices.
The mild-flavoured American mustard, popular with children, generally uses only yellow mustard seeds with the addition of sugar, vinegar and salt.
Dijon mustard is made from milled, husked black seeds, flavoured with wine and spices.
The pungent and spicy grainy types of mustard are a mixture of whole, crushed black and yellow seeds with additional flavourings added for individuality.
Mustards of all types can be used to great effect, not only as a condiment, but also as a culinary ingredient. They add bite and piquancy to all types of savory dishes from scrambled eggs, sauces and dressings to barbecued food, soups, casseroles and cheesy biscuits.