Mustard comes from the mustard plant, which is a member of the Brassicaceae family along with cabbage and broccoli. The mustard condiment is a combination of mustard seeds and a liquid. Mustard seeds do not become pungent until they are cracked open and mixed with a liquid to form a paste. The paste is referred to as prepared mustard.
While the precise origins of the mustard plant are not known, what is known is that mustard seed has been used since the stone age. The Egyptians seasoned their food with the seeds and the Sumerians mixed ground mustard seeds with the juice of unripe grapes and used that as a seasoning. The Ancient Romans mixed it with wine and used it as a condiment at the table.
The Romans brought mustard seeds with them to Gaul and planted them in the vineyards there. French monasteries were making the mustard condiment as early as the 13th century. There are also records of mustard being used as a condiment in Britain in the late 1300s.
Up until the spice trade brought in new spices like black pepper from the Far East, mustard was the main spice in Europe. The spice trade would introduce mustard to India and it would become popular there as well.
The English word mustard comes from the French word mostarde, which comes from the Latin mustum. Mustum was the word for young, unfermented wine. Ground mustard seeds were mixed with mostarde to make the condiment.
In 1866, Maurice Grey and Auguste Poupon introduced their brand of Dijon mustard. That same year, Jeremiah Colman was given the title of Queen Victoria’s mustard maker. He had developed a method of grinding mustard seeds without them losing flavor.
The first time that mustard was used as a hot dog condiment in the United States was during the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.
There are 40 mustard species. The black, brown, and white varieties are the most commonly used. The yellow mustard that is popular for hotdogs in the US is made with white mustard. Brown mustard is the kind seen in Chinese restaurants. Black mustard is seen in the Middle East.
Mustard flavor profile
Prepared mustard differs in flavor depending on the type, but most types offer a sharp and tangy flavor that complements savory dishes. It can also have a mild peppery heat to it. Ingredients like vinegar can make it tart and enhance the spicy flavors.
Health benefits of mustard
Mustard is beneficial for health because it contains compounds like:
- Minerals: Mustard is a good source of selenium, phosphorus and magnesium.
- Isothiocyanates: Enzymes in mustard seed break down compounds called glucosinolates to form isothiocyanates.
- Vitamins: Mustard is also a source of various vitamins including vitamins A, B-9 and K.
Mustard in your diet may be effective for treating or preventing:
- Cancer: The isothiocyanates and selenium in mustard are known to fight cancer cells.
- Constipation: There is a lot of fiber in mustard, which makes it good at easing the passage of food through the gut.
- Inflammation: Yellow mustard contains turmeric along with mustard seed. The turmeric makes mustard bright yellow and is also a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation.
The most popular way to use mustard is as a condiment for hotdogs, hamburgers and ham sandwiches. It’s also a traditional accompaniment for roast beef and lamb. Use it as a dipping sauce for pretzels, to make a honey mustard salad dressing or to glaze a ham.