The Nitty-Gritty of Grainy Mustard
August 27, 2012 2:40 PM   Subscribe

I want to fall into the world of homemade mustard, as parodied in this Onion article. I've spent today looking for dedicated mustard making sites, forums, communities, and have come up relatively dry.

I'm not used to dipping my toes into a new hobby and not immediately being able to immerse myself in, usually, a number of solid, dedicated blogs, a good forum community, and so forth. For mustard making, I've found a handful of contradictory, poorly-informed, or downright inaccurate blog posts, a few Chowhound threads, and not a whole lot else.

Are there any dedicated communities for mustard making? I realize it's a pretty simple project, without the intricacies of, say, home brewing, but even just finding a well informed and detailed overview is hard. This is the best I've found, and it still leaves me with a lot of questions.

To put my question simply: where can I learn, in detail, about mustard making and its technical variables?
posted by gilrain to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I think you've answered your own question. Mustard is not difficult. Get some mustard seeds, and do something to them.

I like to pound them in a mortar (use a pestle for this: works best that way) and add vinegar/wine/fruit juice. I like fresh black pepper.

I'm not sure you'll find "dedicated communities", because it's so darn easy.
posted by trip and a half at 2:58 PM on August 27, 2012

Response by poster: trip and a half: I think you've answered your own question. Mustard is not difficult.

All right. Well, so it seems like most people agree that soaking mustard seeds in water for up to 10 seconds will make them very hot indeed, after which they decline in heat. You can apparently stop the decline in heat at your desired spiciness by adding acid or chilling.

However, other recipes have you soaking the mustard seeds in vinegar right away, and this apparently results in a plenty spicy mustard which can be allowed to mellow to reduce the heat. Wait though, those other reports said acid will halt the reduction of spiciness!

This contradiction, and other pieces of inconsistent-between-blog-posts information on the process, are making me really wish for a more authoritative source. I've been able to find them for other seemingly-simple processes, so it's surprised me not to find them for mustard.
posted by gilrain at 3:05 PM on August 27, 2012

I think the hard part might be sourcing the most varieties of mustard seed.

I'd start with Market Spice and World Spice, both being local to me, but there's also Penzey's and Kalyustan's (search under spices-- they have plenty of pre-mixed mustards, though the ingredients lists may give you some ideas) which are great places to source spices. After that, start researching foreign sources of exotic mustard, or regional recipes from big wurst-eating nations, or the like.

It'd be great if one made mustard the way one makes aiolis, customizing them to the dish. Apple cider vinegar in a mustard made for bratwurst, for example.

Spices in volume are cheap-- keep notes and do some empirical tasting on the hotness and such. And, you know, maybe you could start that community/blog/so forth.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:07 PM on August 27, 2012

Looks like there are several books on Amazon on this topic - I can't speak to which would be best, but given the lack of online sources, checking a few out of the library might be the way to go.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:15 PM on August 27, 2012

Maybe you can find resources through the National Mustard Museum? Also Design Sponge did a post on mustard recipes and I think the pickled mustard seed recipe is great on its own but also a
good start for experimenting.
posted by brilliantine at 3:17 PM on August 27, 2012

Take a look at the Ball Complete Book of Canning and Preserving. There are several recipes in there (all excellent -- I've made each). Absent a dedicated forum, working your way through the recipes in that book will give you a sense of the techniques involved, and from there you can develop your own styles and recipes.

You might also check out the GardenWeb forums, specifically the one on home canning and preserving. Though it's a forum more generally dedicated to preserving what you grow yourself, there are lots of general canning tips in the home preservation forum. You could probably start a conversation there pretty easily.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:34 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and PS: I've found that Indian markets are the cheapest place to buy the quantities of mustard seed/powder that you need to make mustard. Much cheaper than the regular grocery store.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:34 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I recall an online course that was on Look there, they also had one where they made ketchup.
posted by karlos at 5:09 PM on August 27, 2012

There are The Mustard Men, who review mustards on youtube. Doesn't look like they've been very active lately though.
posted by smcameron at 5:26 PM on August 27, 2012

Seconding mudpuppie's recommendation re: Indian markets being the cheapest place to buy mustard seeds and powder in bulk.

My entry into the mustard making world was these two articles:

How to Make Mustard at Home
Dijon Mustard Recipe

As trip and a half said mustard, at its most basic, is mustard seeds soaked in liquid.

Where you develop the obsession is in the details:
+ which kind of liquid? beer? wine? fruit juice?
+ what other things will you add to it? Which herbs and spices? Dried Fruits? Honey?
posted by baniak at 6:03 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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