Mustard 101

Reuben Bread from French's

Celebrate National Mustard Day

It seems every food gets its own holiday and mustard is no exception. August 6 is National Mustard Day, so here’s a little history on one of our favorite condiments!

Mustard is a member of the Brassica family of plants which bears tiny round edible seeds as well as tasty leaves. Its English name, mustard, is derived from a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens meaning burning must. This is a reference to the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds and the French practice of mixing the ground seeds with must, the young, unfermented juice of wine grapes.

At first, mustard was considered a medicinal plant rather than a culinary one. It was used as a remedy for scorpion stings and in medicines. Plasters made from mustard were even used to cure toothaches. Prepared mustard dates back thousands of years to the early Romans who used to grind mustard seeds and mix them with wine into a paste not much different from the mustard we use today.

Yellow mustard is made from the seeds of the white mustard plant. Tumeric helps give it its yellow color. Salt, water and white vinegar are then added to round out the flavor. Dijon mustard is made from brown mustard seeds, and sometimes mixed with other varieties. Usually 2 types of vinegar, cider and white, are used and the mixture ferments for 12 hours. That’s what gives Dijon mustard its strong flavor.

Yellow mustard has a 15-month shelf life while Dijon stays fresh for a year. Both should be refrigerated after opening to preserve their flavors.
And: mustard packs a lot of flavor in just a few calories and is a cholesterol-free food.

Try mustard in new ways making this Fabulous Reuben Bread or Mustard Seed-Crusted Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce. Or – stay traditional and slather some yellow mustard on a hot dog and savor this ancient condiment.

What’s your favorite type of mustard?

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