Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.


Making Mustard at Home

by Sandra Bowens

Here's one that's full of our favorite recipes because we wrote the book! It is also full of information, helpful hints and ideas for using herbs and spices in your kitchen.

The art of making mustard is not as mysterious as you may think. It is fun, easy and inexpensive. It's also rewarding to come up with your own individual combinations that taste good. These creations go on to inspire other recipes when you put your homemade mustard to work in the kitchen.


Gourmet mustards that you have prepared at home make a thoughtful gift. Decorative jars accompanied by home-baked crackers (try those at All About Cayenne prepared without the hot spices) would be especially appreciated by your friends who are watching their weight--mustards have no fat and not many calories.


The hardest part of making mustard from seeds is waiting those first few days for the flavors to mellow so you can see if it turned out as planned. If you use mustard flour you need only wait ten minutes or so.


What's the difference?


Mustard made from the pre-ground seeds, called mustard flour, is nearly instant. It is also quite hot. This pungency is reduced somewhat as the paste sits. Mustard prepared with flour is easy to make in small batches as needed.


Making mustard from the whole seeds requires a bit of time as the seeds should soak and the prepared mustard tastes much better after it has "ripened" for a few days. Because of this, you will not get a clear flavor just after mixing. The Beer-Thyme recipe below seemed to have way too much vinegar just after mixing but a few days later the flavors balanced out.


What you need


Mustard from flour requires nothing more than a bowl and a spoon. For mustard from seeds you will need a blender or food processor for grinding. All of your utensils and mixing vessels should be glass, stainless steel or ceramic, anything but aluminum. Mustard can cause oxidation of aluminum.


If you think you will really enjoy making your own mustard you might consider buying the seeds and flour by the pound to economize.  The most recent copy of Penzeys Spices catalog lists a one pound bag of mustard seed for $4.60 while a 1/2 cup glass jar goes for $3.05. Similarly, a four-ounce tin of Coleman's mustard powder purchased at a local retail store cost about the same as a one pound bag from Penzeys.


 You can buy little jars made especially for mustard but just about any small jar with a tight fitting lid will do. You should make sure all storage containers are as clean as possible, of course.



What to do


You need only mix equal parts mustard flour and water to make a simple smooth prepared mustard. Change the flavors by adding herbs, spices, salt or sweeteners. Assorted vinegars provide pleasant tanginess while the sweetness of fruit can be achieved by using juice and zest. It's easy to experiment with different tastes when you are using mustard flour because you don’t have to make a lot of it at one time.


For grainy mustards, soak the seeds in a liquid for at least two hours or overnight before grinding them in a blender or food processor. You will want to soak any add-ins like dried fruit along with the seeds. Make your mustard with a bit of fresh herbs, vinegar and salt to create just about any flavor combinations you can imagine.



What you should know


Heat activates an enzyme that kills the flavor of mustard so don't be tempted to hurry the soaking process by boiling your seeds. When using in a recipe, add mustard near the end of cooking.


Mustards will keep for about a month. If you use perishable ingredients be sure to store it in the refrigerator.


Refrigeration prevents the heat of mixtures made from ground mustard from increasing; when your mustard reaches the optimum heat level you desire, transfer to the refrigerator.


Names may become confusing when dealing with seeds. Yellow mustard seeds are often referred to as white and brown mustard seeds are sometimes called black.


Your homemade mustard will not be the brilliant yellow common to commercially prepared spreads. A bit of turmeric for coloring may be added if you desire this brightness.



Recipes to try



Beer-Thyme Mustard


1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

3/4 cup flat amber beer (or beer of your choice)

1 Tablespoon mustard flour

1 Tablespoon dried minced onion

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon salt


Soak the mustard seeds in the beer overnight. About 20 minutes before you are ready to make the mustard, stir the mustard flour, minced onion and thyme into the soaked seed mixture and allow to sit.


Place the mustard mixture to a blender along with the vinegar and salt. Grind until it is the consistency of a paste, with some seeds remaining visible. This may take a minute or two. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and let stand at room temperature 4-5 days before using. Store in refrigerator.


Makes about 1 1/4 cups




Grainy Mustard with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil


1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds

1/4 cup brown mustard seeds

8 sun-dried tomato halves

1 cup dry white wine

4 teaspoons mustard flour

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup, packed, chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt


Soak the mustard seeds and tomato halves in the wine overnight. Combine the soaked seeds with the remaining ingredients in the container of a blender; grind to a paste. Transfer to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate 4-5 days before using.


Makes about 2 cups




Dilled Honey Mustard


5 teaspoons mustard flour

1 Tablespoon water

1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill weed

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Allow to sit at room temperature at least two hours for maximum flavor.


Makes 1/4 cup



Don't miss the Rosemary-Orange Mustard at All About Rosemary.


Learn more about mustard seeds at All About Mustard.



 This is no cookbook but a serious look at spice history, cultivation and use.

Start with coriander, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper, and turmeric, work a little magic and finish with more than fifty different, delicious Indian dishes.

Herbal vinegars are some of the most versatile elixirs you can keep on hand or give as a gift. Here you will find inspiration, ideas and recipes for other delicious concoctions.

 A luscious book from the Herbfarm kitchen-nursery filled with unusual ideas for using fresh herbs. See's review of this book.

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