Making your own mustard is ridiculously easy, and allows you to experiment with a rainbow of wonderful flavours.
I’ve started to see a lot of speciality mustards crop up in the stores, but at those prices, you would want to eat them with an ivory spoon, out of a silver pot, not spread them on ham. Luckily, they are also about the easiest thing in the world to make. Trust me, if you can mix up a packet soup, you can make mustard.
I want to give you the formula for mustard, and a few ideas for flavourings, so that you can go off and experiment on your own, safe in the knowledge that there is almost nothing that can go wrong. On one of my first attempts, the mustard went so thick you could use it to stick bricks together, but it was still mustardy, and easy to thin down with a bit of water or vinegar.
There are three basic components to mustard:
The mustard bit:
You can choose from light or dark mustard seeds. You can buy them whole or ready-ground, or you can grind them at home. If you suspect that they have been hanging around in the shop for a while, it might be better to grind your own in the blender, and capture a fresher flavour. I used a combination of yellow mustard seeds, dark mustard seeds and yellow mustard powder (ready ground) in roughly equal quantities for all of these recipes
The liquid bit:
The mustard seeds on their own won’t taste of anything much, but it is when you combine them with a liquid that they release their flavour. They will keep getting better the longer you leave them, and after about a week, your mustard will be at peak deliciousness. There is no particular reason why you couldn’t just use water, or even juice, except that it will not keep, so I use a vinegar or alcohol base. The famous Dijon mustard uses verjus, which is pressed from unripened grapes, but you will probably find that a little hard to get hold of. Try instead a white wine vinegar for a fairly neutral base, or add interest with a craft beer. These recipes also use honey and balsamic vinegar, but feel free to switch it up with whatever you have in the cupboards. One day, I want to make my own mustard using home-made vinegar.
Now, you could totally make mustard just from the two components above, but it would be very runny, and very, very mustardy. You are going to need to fatten it up with something. Commercial varieties will use a cheap padder, and you can do the same if you want the flavour of the vinegar or mustard to be at the forefront. Add a teaspoon of cornstarch and simmer the mixture until it thickens. This will not take long, so keep your eye on it, or you will end up with the solid cement mustard like I did. But why not take this as an opportunity to boost the flavour and uniqueness of your product? Try using fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs or flavoured oils. I used local honey for one mustard, what about maple syrup, apple sauce, horseradish?
Play around with the flavours, add herbs like tarragon or parsley, a splash of booze, fresh chillies, garlic, coriander seeds. Add a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper. With a little time in the kitchen you could create something entirely unique.
These three range from very mild to blow-off-your-socks spicy. Each recipe makes two small pots
Fig and Balsamic Mustard
This one just sounds so fancy, and is very very mild. More of a mustard-flavoured preserve for using liberally with delicate cheeses like a chévre.
1 tablespoon each of light and dark mustard seeds
2 tablespoons of light mustard power
1 cup chopped dried figs
Balsamic and / or White wine vinegar
- In one bowl, blend the mustards and add white wine vinegar to make a paste. Leave to marinate for at least fifteen minutes
- Put the figs into a small pan and add just enough balsamic to cover. Simmer until they are soft. Blend with a wand mixer.
- Combine the mustard paste and the fig purée. Pot into pretty jars
A classic. Quite strong. I pulsed it in the mixer after making, but left most of the seeds whole. Feel free to make a smooth version, either by using only mustard powder, or blending completely after
Half a cup each of dark mustard seeds, golden mustard seeds and golden mustard powder, or omit the dark mustard seeds for a golden honey colour
Four tablespoons of honey
Vinegar. I used Melfor honey vinegar, but ordinary white vinegar will do
1 tsp cornstarch (optional, makes a thicker consistency)
- Blend all the ingredients together in a bowl. Allow to marinate for at least fifteen minutes.
- If using the cornstarch, transfer the mixture to a small pan and warm gently. Keep an eye on it, and take it off the heat the moment you see the mixture thicken.
- Pot into attractive jars
Chilli and tomato mustard
Epic with sausages. Not for the faint-hearted.
Two mild bell peppers
Two very hot chillies
Half a cup each of dark mustard seeds, golden mustard seeds and golden mustard powder, or a combination of your preference
White wine vinegar
One tablespoon of tomato purée
- Combine the mustards, and add enough vinegar to make a paste. Set to one side while you prepare the peppers.
- Remove the seeds from the peppers and chillies and cut into eighths. Heat the oil in a skillet, and place the peppers, skin side down, in the hot pan. Cook over a high heat, not turning the peppers, until the skin is very blackened. Add the chillies for the last minute or so of cooking.
- Put the peppers and chillies in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to cool.
- The skins of the peppers should slide off easily now. Peel and then purée together with the chillies (there is no need to peel the chillies)
- To the pepper and chilli purée, add the tomato purée and the mustard paste. Stir it together and pot.
Your mustards will keep well in the fridge for up to a month.
To keep them for longer, process them in a water bath. To do this, put a folded-up tea towel on the bottom of a large pan. Put your jars in the pan and fill with water. Bring the whole thing to the boil, and cook briskly for ten minutes. Allow to cool before removing the jars. They will now have an airtight seal and will stay good for at least six months in a cool, dry place.