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Mustard has been one of the most widely grown and used spices in the world for many centuries. It is believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt and exported to Europe by the Romans who used it for both food and medicine - as a cure for anything from hysteria to snakebite to bubonic plague. In these early times a popular drink was unfermented grape juice - and this was often seasoned with mustard seeds. The unfermented grape juice was called MUST. This is believed to be the origin of the word mustard.

Prepared mustard as we know it began in Dijon, France in the 13th century.

In the early 19th century Colmans of Norwich, England became the world's first mustard millers - milling the heart of the mustard seed to a fine powder, mustard flour - and they established mustard as an industrial food ingredient.
Dry milled mustard products are now essential ingredients in many formulations such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, tomato sauces, processed meats, seasoning blends, etc. and of course prepared mustard. They are used for their flavour contribution and in many cases for the unique functional properties of mustard.

Brown or Indian Mustard Brassica juncea

Originates from the hybridisation of Brassica nigra and B. campestris which probably happened in South Western Asia and India. Nowadays grown mainly for making mustard.

This species originated from the hybridisation of Brassica nigra with Brassica campestris and this probably happened in South Western Asia and India where the natural distribution of the two species overlaps. Like B. nigra, it has been grown for oilseed, greens and as a spice. Prior to the 1940's, B. juncea was considered to be inferior to B. nigra in the making of mustard but in the 1940's a new yellow-seeded variety of B. juncea was imported into the USA from China and became widely cultivated because, unlike B. nigra, it could be mechanically harvested. This is because this particular variety of B. juncea retains its seeds till after mechanical harvesting whereas all the B. nigra varieties have seeds that fall from the plant unless harvested when ripe by hand which is a lot more time consuming especially as this harvesting has to be done repeadedly through the growing season.

Mustard is a member of the crucifer family. Mustard greens are a popular dish in the Southern U.S. and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. Mustard sprouts have a strong spicy flavor and are usually blended with alfalfa or clover sprouts.

Brown Mustard. Mustard becomes pungent when the crushed seeds are mixed with COLD water to activate the appropriate enzymes. Boiling water, applied to dormant enzymes kills them, vinegar inhibits them, and both create a weak aroma but bitter taste. Mustard seed stimulates circulation, which invited their use in love potions. They treat bronchitis, give a warming footbath, and, in a mustard poultice, reduce inflammation treating chilblains and rheumatism. The oil is a lubricant. In China Brown Mustard seed is used to treat colds, stomach problems, abscesses, rheumatism, lumbago, and ulcers. Leaves treat bladder inflammation. Mustard makes a good companion plant in your garden as it attracts these beneficial parasites that feed on cabbageworms. It also repels damage causing aphids.

True Dijon mustard is made using 100% brown mustard seeds - the chemical make-up of the brown seed bran gives it its distinctive flavour.

Yellow Mustard Seed

Yellow mustard seed originated in Europe. The seeds are pale straw yellow colour and about 3mm in diameter. The taste is mild and "eggy" - not pungent.

Yellow mustard is the most functional of the mustard seed types being high in protein and naturally occurring tocopherols with anti-oxidant properties. High levels of cold water soluble gums are present in the bran.

Yellow mustard is used mainly to produce "mild" prepared mustard for table use. It is also used in salad dressings, pickles and processed meat products. Brown and oriental mustard are used mainly for "hot" table mustard, and some for oil and spices.