Don’t just scoff at it as if it is nothing more than a condiment. Yes, mustard is the master of the vegan dog. It has played the role of sandwich spread, and some even know it as tasty topping for freshly baked pretzels. We know it in salad dressings, on burgers and more. Mustard makes the rounds.
But, it’s also far beyond just another condiment. It’s an ingredient. Mix it with a little soy sauce or balsamic vinegar and mustard makes great sauces that can enliven sautéed veggies or a bowl of noodles. It puts a punchy smack into marinades that can flavor tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, vegetables or whatever else is going onto the grill.
Then, of course, there is the mustard itself, the way it pairs well with so many things. Sweet mustards are amazing. Spicy mustard is crazy delicious. Or, blend it with ginger or garlic, or perhaps with some fresh herbs, say tarragon, dill or basil. There’s also Dijon, classic yellow, or grainy. There’s French, English and dozens of other takes on how it should taste.
The beautiful thing is, with just a little know-how, we can all be making our own magnificent mustards.
The Staple Ingredients
A basic mustard is a fairly simple concoction, with only a few ingredients and very little to be done in the way of preparing it. You’ll need mustard powder (half a cup) and mustard seeds (three or four tablespoons). You’ll need another few tablespoons of vinegar, any variety from homemade apple cider vinegar to champagne gone wrong. Lastly, there’s an equal ratio of water to mustard powder with a pinch of salt. Regardless of the mustard that will be, it all starts here, with these five things.
One thing to consider in compiling these ingredients is which mustard seeds to use. There are three varieties: white, brown and black. For milder mustards, something along the lines of classic yellow, it’s best to go with white seeds. Brown seeds usually make an appearance in those beloved Dijon mustards. And, black, well, that’s the most pungent and one that will suit the serious mustard lover. Brown will likely be the easiest to find here and probably the right choice for most people.
The Simple Process
With this short list of ingredients, you will now do an equally short set of steps. Firstly, the seeds should be soaking, think around eighteen hours or until the seeds can be crushed by fingers. This is important because hard seeds won’t break down into the sauce. Once the seeds have soaked, you should either blend them up or grind them with a mortar and pestle.
You can continue the process by adding the salt, water, and mustard powder. This mixture should sit getting nice for fifteen minutes or so, and be aware that the warmer the water used, the milder the final mustard will be. Then, you can add in your vinegar and give it all a final fanatical stir, being sure to get any clumps of powder out.
At this point, it will look like mustard, but it won’t taste like mustard. For the first day or two, a new mixture is quite bitter and possibly too spicy. Don’t worry. Wait for a couple of days and it will mellow into what you are after.
The Fanciful Fun
For those of you who just can’t help yourselves, who are fans to tweaking, twisting and turning recipes on their ears, as a last step in the mustard-making process, you can add your personal preferences. The ideas are so plentifully diverse that we can never cover them all here, but these quick alterations are a start.
- Sweet Mustard: Equal parts raw agave syrup (or whatever sweetener you like) and a Dijon blend makes good sweet mustard. This is especially nice when the mustard is made with apple cider vinegar.
- Spicy Mustard: Mustard itself is quite spicy, so make sure not to cut away that sharpness in the basic process of making it. Otherwise, add some fresh horseradish or homemade hot sauce (a teaspoon at a time) for a crank on the fire meter.
- Herb Mustard: Dill and mustard pair like old friends, and together they send a vegan sausage into otherworldliness. Basil or tarragon can work well sweet blends especially, and cilantro makes a little magic as well. Just add a tablespoon a go with maybe a little oil to boot.
- Fruity Mustard: Less popular than the previously mentioned takes on mustard, fruity mustards are funky and delicious. Cranberry mustard (add roughly equal parts fruit and mustard) is amazing for tofurkey sandwiches or lime-jalapeno can really bring a taco home.
The Final Challenge
The ultimate DIY challenge here, which isn’t all that difficult, would be to grow your own mustard seeds. Luckily, mustard plants are fairly easy to cultivate and can be done in typical lettuce beds or pots. The awesome bonus with this, besides knowing it’s all organic and such, is that mustard greens are on the menu while you are waiting for the plant to flower and seed. It sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Why not give it a shot!
Lead image source: Sweet Potato Chickpea Burger With Apricot Mustard and Rosemary Fries