Wild mustard is native to the entire old world from Europe to the Middle East and Asia. It’s unknown exactly when the mustard plant was domesticated, but it has been vastly bred. Not only do domestic mustard plants come from the wild mustard, vegetables in the brassica family like cabbage, cauliflower, and kale also come from mustard.
Mustard seeds have been a documented food since 206 B.C. when records indicate they were eaten by the Han Dynasty of China. The Romans ate them whole or ground and were possibly responsible for introducing traditional mustard to Europe.
Medieval French mustard consisted of ground mustard seed, honey, and either wine or vinegar. By the mid-1600’s French dijon mustard makers formed a guild to ensure the quality of their recipes.
About the Plants
While the tangy condiment can be made from the seed of any mustard plant, commercially it’s most often Sinapis alba. This plant grows up to 3 feet in height and has sparing toothed leaves that are used as edible greens.
The yellow flowers appear in the summer as the weather warms. The flowers pollinate, wilt, and give way to hairy seed pods. Each pod contains approximately 6 seeds, one plant can produce 3500 seeds.
The seeds are left to partially dry on the plant until they are brown and starting to crisp. Another option is to pull the whole plant from the ground and hang them upside down in a covered location to dry. Once dried, the seeds are separated from the chaff and stored until they are used or planted.
Making homemade mustard is easy and you can experiment with all kinds of recipes. here is a simple yellow mustard recipe:
- 1/2 cup Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 cup White Wine
- 1/2 Cup Vinegar (White or Apple Cider)
- 1 Tbps Sugar
Simply combine the above ingredients in a jar and let them marinade for 2 days at room temperature. Then, blend them together until smooth.