Can I can the mustard I muster?
March 23, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have anecdotes, experience or advice regarding home-canning home-made mustard or barbecue sauce?

Following up on this question, I'm pursuing some mustard-making experiments to great success. This produces a lot more mustard than I can consume, and that even my friends can keep up with. Freshly made mustard seems to keep about a month, according to most recipes, and I'd like to can (in a pressure cooker, hot water bath, or pressure canner) it in order to preserve it for future use rather than waste it. My wife is starting a small baked-goods catering business, so the idea of getting the hang of canning small-run home-made mustards is something that appeals to me long-term as well (i.e. I'm interested in canning, not in suggestions like "freeze it!" or "bury it in a cave!")

There seems to be zero information about canning this condiment online, though. This Ask MeFi thread is about as good as anything I've found, and still doesn't really address mustard directly. Has anyone done it?

If I can't find any tested recipes online, am I best just to buy some pH strips and make educated guesses based on acidity?

Information about barbecue sauce -- the long-term goal of this mustard-making experiment -- would also be welcome.

I am a total canning newbie -- made some apple butter about five years ago in a hot-water bath, and that's it. Thanks!
posted by Shepherd to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2010

In broadest terms you can pressure can nearly anything - meat, vegetables and other things which are too low pH for water bath canning. Mustard isn't clear - if there's a lot of vinegar in it you may be OK. Certainly you could buy litmus strips and test it but if it seems in any way close to the limit I'd go with a pressure canner.

That said, this mustard recipe is described for use with a water bath canner. But it's mostly wine, vinegar and honey. So maybe you would work based on that?
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2010

CanningUSA has processing instructions for both mustard and BBQ sauce, using a boiling water bath for both. I can't really tell who's behind the site, though. It's usually best to follow USDA-approved recipes, obviously.

The Ball Blue Book, which is the canner's bible**, also has a BBQ sauce recipe, along with processing instructions. And here's a mustard recipe as well.

The USDA will tell you not to alter recipes, to use them exactly as written, because they're time-tested. I myself like to monkey with them a bit. As long as I feel like the acidity isn't going to be an issue, I'm not really worried about poisoning myself. You'll have to use your own judgment, though.

Do pick up a copy of the Blue Book, if you can. I also really enjoy The Joy of Pickling. It's got some great, unique recipes in it.

**Newer versions of the Ball Blue Book often call for pre-made Ball- or Kerr-brand mixes. Get an older version if you can. The recipes were much better before the two companies merged and they got into the pre-made spice mix business.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:01 PM on March 23, 2010

Also, you could contact The National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. I mean, I gotta assume they would know.
posted by GuyZero at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2010

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving has a recipe for Oktoberfest mustard, which includes beer. That might be a good starting point for you. My family loves it, and it is a safe recipe to water bath.
posted by xsquared-1 at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2010

I was coming in here to suggest the Ball Blue Book but it looks like mudpuppie and xsquared-1 beat me to it, so I'll just 3rd it. It's a great book, you should pick it up.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2010
The "Does anyone have some Artisan Mustard tips?" thread has lots of information on technique and sources for mustard seeds; the "homade mustards?" one has lots of recipes, including a few that are done in a water bath.

The Harvest forum there is full of knowledgeable people who err on the side of food safety and will probably tell you that using pH strips isn't going to give you the full picture on whether your mustard is actually safe. And, depending on where you are, that you'll need permits and certifications before you can sell anything to the public, but you may already have that covered with the catering business.

Ellie Topp's Small Batch Preserving is a great book, but her mustard recipe calls for freezing or refrigerating, probably because it contains oil. But that's where I learned that using water as the liquid results in a sharper mustard than using vinegar or beer would.

The Ball Book goes by Bernardin in Canada. I second that [on preview: fourth] and the NCHFP as good general sources.

p.s. if you want to can in a pressure canner, be sure that the one you use will fit at least four quart-sized jars (you don't need to be using jars that big, but the vessel itself needs to be that large), and has either a weighted gauge, or a dial gauge that's been tested.
posted by mgar at 1:46 PM on March 23, 2010

Collating some of what I've learned and read so far, it looks like:
  • I should stick to "tested" recipes
  • There are very few "tested" recipes for mustard
  • The "tested" recipes, however, seem to have some wiggle room if I don't add things like flour or low-acid contents
  • The heat of a pressure canner may affect the mustard's flavour profile
I guess the holy grail for me would be some standard checklist of "if your food meets all this criteria, it is safe for canning; if not, it is not" that would apply to anything you're going to throw in a canner/water bath. I'm going to keep reading and researching, but it looks like it's not as simple as I hoped it would be. Thanks for all the info and links so far (but keep 'em coming!).
posted by Shepherd at 5:58 AM on March 24, 2010

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