Yellow Mustard Seeds: The Mildest Mustard Seeds

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Yellow mustard seeds — like all mustard seeds — have roots going back more than 5,000 years. They come from various parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and parts of the Mediterranean. They are a Northern Hemisphere spice that was also one of Europe’s main seasonings before the advent of the spice trade. It was the primary source of spicy heat for a long time before Europeans encountered pepper from India. 

The Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians used mustard seeds in their food, and so did the Ancient Romans. The Sumerians combined ground mustard seeds with the juice of unripe grapes called verjus, while the Romans used wine to do something similar. Dioscorides, the physician, prescribed mustard as a topical treatment, and it is still used that way today in some places. 

Yellow mustard seeds are sometimes called white mustard seeds. They come from the Sinapsis alba variety of mustard and are slightly larger than brown and black mustard seeds. The Sinapsis alba plant belongs to the Brassica family, just like the plants that produce brown and black mustard seeds, but it is not as closely related to them as they are to each other. 

Yellow mustard seeds are the seeds ground to make American yellow mustard. It should be noted that the bright yellow color of the mustard comes from the addition of turmeric, not the seeds themselves.

Yellow mustard seeds flavor profile

Yellow mustard seeds have the sharp, tangy flavor found in other mustard varieties but without the heat that you would get from them. The flavor profile of yellow mustard seeds is barely perceptible when used raw; they become aromatic when toasted. Soaking the seeds in water before grinding them can also increase their heat. This variety of mustard gets its flavor from a compound called sinalbin, which is different from the compound responsible for the flavor in brown and black mustard seeds. Sinalbin is responsible for its mild taste. 

Health benefits of yellow mustard seeds

Long used for its health benefits, yellow mustard seeds are beneficial because they contain essential nutrients like:

  • Minerals: Yellow mustard seeds contain several essential minerals, including magnesium, iron, and potassium. 
  • Vitamins: You can get vitamins A, E, and several B vitamins from yellow mustard seeds. 
  • Isothiocyanates: The isothiocyanates in yellow mustard seeds are different from those in brown and black mustard seeds but have many of the same profound health benefits. 

By consuming yellow mustard seeds, you can prevent or treat illnesses like:

  • Obesity: Yellow mustard seeds are great for adding flavor to food without many calories, which means that you can use them to help you lose weight. 
  • Foodborne illness: Yellow mustard seeds have antimicrobial properties that may protect against different kinds of foodborne illnesses. 
  • Cancer: The isothiocyanates in yellow mustard seeds can help to fight cancer. They are particularly effective against stomach and colon cancers. 

Common uses

Yellow mustard is most commonly combined with vinegar and turmeric to make the prepared mustard condiment used on meats, especially cured meats like sausages and ham. Another way to use it is in mayonnaise and in vinaigrettes, where it works as an emulsifier to keep oil and vinegar from separating. It is one of the more important ingredients in another classic sauce: Hollandaise sauce. Use it in marinades and rubs as well as in your pickling brine.


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