Prized for its heat and assertive zip, mustard has been used as a flavor booster since the Middle Ages, if not earlier. For this month’s How-Tuesday, we’re showing you how easy mustard is to make at home, offering a recipe so good, you’ll be looking for excuses all summer long to slather this tasty condiment.
There are three kinds of mustard plants, each producing a different colored seed: black, brown and yellow or white. Made from the harvested seeds, mustard becomes spreadable and pungent when ground and mixed with an acidic liquid, such as wine or vinegar. While whole mustard seeds are commonly available, when buying your mustard seeds, remember that black and brown are the hottest and yellow and white are milder.
To learn the ins and outs of mustard-making, we caught up with the always charming and knowledgeable Michelle Fuerst (esteemed chef from Bay Area trailblazers Zuni Café and Chez Panisse) at local foodie favorite, The Brooklyn Kitchen. Used in dishes around the world (and particularly popular in Asian cooking), mustard seeds need at least 24 hours of soaking before mustard magic can commence. Here, Michelle makes a coarse, slightly hot mustard using yellow and brown seeds. She balances the base with fruity vinegar and a touch of sugar.
Once blended, the mustard should sit at room temperature for one to two days. During this resting period, mustard, as Michelle said, “off gases” and looses its sharp bite.
Mustards are tinker-friendly, and to make yours unique, Michelle suggests adding some pounded garlic, herbs or even beer to her basic mustard recipe. For summertime use, brush mustard on chicken, salmon or rabbit and then grill. It also makes for flavorful vinaigrettes and adds dimension when stirred into countless sauces and pastas.
Basic Coarse and Spicy Mustard
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons wine
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
Soak mustard seeds in vinegar for 24-48 hours.
Blend the soaked mustard seeds until coarsely ground; they should start to turn into a puree. Add the vinegar and continue to puree for 30 additional seconds.
Add the salt, wine and honey or sugar. Blend until the mustard is evenly mixed and spreadable. Thin with water, if needed.
Let mustard sit out at room temperature for 1-2 days before enjoying. Note that the mustard’s heat will mellow during this time. Once desired sharpness is achieved, bottle the mustard and store in refrigerator.
For spicy honey mustard, omit the wine from the above recipe. Blend 3 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon beer into the mustard.
Special thanks to The Brooklyn Kitchen for use of their wonderful kitchen space.