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Mustard (condiment)

Mustard seeds (top left) may be ground (top right) to make different kinds of mustard. The four mustards pictured are a simple table mustard with turmeric coloring (center left), a Bavarian sweet mustard (center right), a Dijon mustard (lower left), and a coarse French mustard made mainly from black mustard seeds (lower right).

Mustard seeds (top left) may be ground (top right) to make different kinds of mustard. The four mustards pictured are a simple table mustard with turmeric coloring (center left), a Bavarian sweet mustard (center right), a Dijon mustard (lower left), and a coarse French mustard made mainly from black mustard seeds (lower right).
Mustard, also known as "mustard cream"[1], is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant (white or yellow mustard, Sinapis hirta; brown or Indian mustard, Brassica juncea; or black mustard, Brassica nigra). The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, vinegar or other liquids, and sometimes other flavorings and spices, to created a thick paste ranging in colour from bright yellow to dark brown. Mustard often has a sharp, pungent flavor, as mixing the ground seed with cold liquid causes the release of the enzyme myrosin, responsible for mustard's characteristic heat[2]. Homemade mustards are often far hotter and more intensely flavored than commercial preparations[3]. A strong mustard can cause the eyes to water, sting the palate and inflame the nasal passages. Mustard can also cause allergic reactions: since 2005, products in the European Union must be labelled as potential allergens if they contain mustard[4]. Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is also a popular addition to sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs. It is also used as an ingredient in many dressings, glazes, sauces, soups, and marinades; as a cream or a seed, mustard is used in the cuisine of India, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, northern Europe, the Balkan States, Asia, the United States, and Africa[5], making it one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world.



The English word "mustard" derives from the Middle English moustarde, a combination of the Old French words moust (must) and ardens (burning)[6]. Moust derives from the Latin mustum, meaning "new wine".


Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice, known as "must", with ground mustard seeds (called sinapis) to make "burning must", mustum ardens—hence "must ard"[7]. A recipe for mustard appears in Apicius (also called De re coquinaria), the anonymously compiled Roman cookbook from the late 4th or early 5th Century; the recipe calls for a mixture of ground mustard, pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish stock, and oil, and was intended as a glaze for spit-roasted boar[8].

The Romans likely exported mustard seed to Gaul, and by the 10th Century, monks of St. Germain des Pres in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production[9]. The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292[10]. Dijon, France, became a recognized centre for mustard making by the 13th Century[11]. The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 70 gallons of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336[12]. In 1777, one of the most famous Dijon mustard makers, Grey-Poupon, was established as a partnership between Maurice Grey, a mustard maker with a unique recipe containing white wine, and Auguste Poupon, his financial backer[13]. Their success was aided by the introduction of the first automatic mustard making machine[14]. In 1937, Dijon mustard was granted an Appellation d'origine contrôlée[15]. Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world[16].

An early use of mustard as a condiment in England was in the form of mustard balls--coarse ground mustard seed combined with flour and cinnamon, moistened, rolled into balls, and dried--which were easily stored and combined with vinegar or wine to make mustard paste as needed[17]. The town of Tewkesbury was well known for its high-quality mustard balls, which were exported to London and other parts of the country, and are even mentioned in William Shakespeare's play King Henry the Fourth, Part II[18].

The use of mustard as a hot dog condiment was first seen at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when the still-popular bright yellow French's mustard was introduced by the R.T. French Company[19].

Preparation and varieties

There are many varieties of mustard which come in a wide range of strengths and flavors. The basic taste and "heat" of the mustard is largely determined by seed type, preparation and ingredients.[20][21] Black seeded mustard is generally regarded as the hottest type. Preparation also plays a key role in the final outcome of the mustard. Mustard, in its powdered form, lacks any potency and needs to be fixed; it is the production of allyl isothiocyanate from the reaction of myrosinase and sinigrin during soaking that causes gustatory heat to emerge. One of the factors that determines the strength of a prepared mustard is the temperature of the water, vinegar, or other liquid mixed with the ground seeds: hotter liquids are more hostile to the strength-producing compounds. Thus, hot mustard is made with cold water, while using hot water results in milder mustard (other factors remaining the same).[22]

The pungency of mustard is always reduced by heating, not just at the time of preparation; if added to a dish during cooking much of the effect of the mustard is lost.

Locations renowned for their mustard include Dijon (medium strength) and Meaux in France; Norwich (very hot) and Tewkesbury, famed for its variety, in the United Kingdom; and Düsseldorf (hot) and Bavaria in Germany. There are variations in the subsidiary spices and in the preparation of the mustard seeds. The husks may be ground with the seeds, or winnowed away after the initial crushing; "whole-grain mustard" retains some unground or partially ground mustard seeds. Bavarian "sweet mustard" contains very little acid, substituting copious amounts of sugar for preservation. Sometimes prepared mustard is simmered to moderate its bite, sometimes it is aged. Irish mustard is a wholegrain type blended with whiskey and/or honey.

Basic Mustards

Basic mustards are the most commonly consumed and often simplest of the mustard varieties, including mustard seed, dry mustard powder, deli-style mustard, Dijon mustard, stone-ground mustard, whole-grain mustard, and yellow mustard.

Deli-Style/Brown Mustard

Brown or "deli style" mustard is also commonly used in the United States. The seeds are coarsely ground, giving it a speckled brownish yellow appearance. It is generally spicier than yellow mustard.

Dijon Mustard

Store brand Dijon mustard in a squeeze bottle.Dijon mustard is not covered by a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) under the auspices of the European Union; thus, while there are major mustard plants in Dijon and suburbs, most Dijon mustard is manufactured outside of Dijon.

Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe.

Mustards from Dijon today generally contain both white wine and burgundy wine. Mustards marketed as Dijon style may contain one or both of these wines or may substitute vinegar or another acid in order to conform to local laws.

Stone-Ground and Whole-Grain Mustards

In wholegrain mustard, the seeds are not ground, but mixed whole with other ingredients. Different flavors and strengths can be achieved by using different blends of mustard seed species. Some variations have additives such as sun-dried tomato mustard and chili mustard.

Yellow "Ballpark" Mustard

A bottle of yellow mustard. Yellow mustard or American mustard[23] is the most commonly used mustard in the United States and Canada, where it is sometimes referred to simply as "regular mustard". This is a very mild mustard colored bright yellow by the inclusion of turmeric. It was introduced in 1904 by George T. French as "cream salad mustard". This mustard is closely associated with hot dogs, sandwiches, and hamburgers. Along with its use on various sandwiches, yellow mustard is a key ingredient in many potato salads, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings. Yellow mustard is often rubbed on barbecue meat prior to applying a dry rub, to form a crust, called bark, on the meat.

Sweet Mustards

Variations of sweet mustards include honey mustard, spiced honey mustard, brown sugar and pecan mustard, prickly pear honey mustard, maple mustard, sesame ginger mustard, and sweet and hot mustard.

Honey mustard

This honey mustard has added peppers and spices. Honey mustard, as the name suggests, is a blend of mustard and honey, usually 1:1.[24] It is most often used as a topping for sandwiches and as a dip for chicken strips, french fries, onion rings, and other finger foods. It can also be used combined with vinegar and/or olive oil to make a salad dressing. The most basic honey mustard is a mixture of equal amounts of honey and mustard; however, most varieties include other ingredients to modify the flavor and texture. Combinations of English mustard with honey or demerara sugar are popularly used in British cuisine to coat grilled lamb cutlets or pork chops. Peppers and spices are sometimes added to give honey mustard a distinct hot and spicy taste.

Fruit Mustards

Although the combination of fruit and mustard may seem unusual, it has been done since the Italian creation of mostarda di frutta in the 14th Century[25]. Large chunks of fruit preserved in a sweet, hot mustard syrup was served with meat and game, and was said to be a favorite of the Dukes of Milan[26]. Variations of fruit mustards include apple mustard, apricot-ginger mustard, berry mustard, cranberry mustard, lemon mustard, orange and honey mustard, and pineapple and honey mustard.

Herb Mustards

Variations of herb mustards include basil mustard, dill mustard, fennel mustard, garlic mustard, lemon-dill mustard, peppercorn mustard, roasted garlic mustard, rosemary mustard, rosemary-mint mustard, tarragon mustard, and tomato-basil mustard.

Hot Mustards

Variations of hot mustards include chipotle pepper mustard, habañero pepper mustard, horseradish mustard, and jalapeño mustard.

Horseradish mustard

Horseradish mustard contains horseradish as well as mustard. The horseradish adds a sour flavor plus additional heat. Horseradish mustard is generally available as either mild or hotter than English mustard.

Old World Mustards

Variations of old world mustards include Dutch mustard, French Dijon mustard, Polish mustard, Russian mustard, Tewkesbury horseradish mustard, Swedish mustard, and sweet or hot Austrian, Bavarian, and German mustards.

English and French mustards

The two most common varieties of mustard in Europe are English and French mustard. The English variety is typically bright yellow in appearance, but much hotter than American mustard, akin to a Wasabi like sensation and is used sparingly. In the UK, the brand Colman's is the most widely known. The French variety is typically darker in color and contains more vinegar, giving a milder taste.

Spirited Mustards

Spirited mustards have added alcoholic spirits or beer for added flavor, but do not contain alcohol. Variations include Arran mustards with highland malt scotch, brandied peach mustard, cognac mustard, Irish "pub" mustard, Jack Daniel's mustard, and stout mustard.

Irish mustard

Irish mustard is a blend of wholegrain mustard with honey and/or Irish whiskey.

Miscellaneous Mustards

There are so many varieties of mustard that some are not easily classified, such as balsamic mustard, black olive mustard, sun-dried tomato mustard, and Maui onion mustard.

Culinary uses

Mustard is often used at the table as a condiment on meat. It is also used as an ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinades and barbecue sauce. It can also be used as a base for salad dressing when combined with vinegar and/or olive oil. Mustard is a popular accompaniment to hot dogs, pretzels, and Bratwurst. Mustard is also an emulsifier which can stabilize a mixture of two or more unblendable liquids such as oil and water. Added to Hollandaise sauce, mustard can reduce the possibility of curdling[27].

Dry mustard, typically sold in cans, is used in cooking and can be mixed with water to become prepared mustard.

Storage and shelf life

Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration; it will not grow mold, mildew or harmful bacteria[28]. Unrefrigerated mustard will lose pungency more quickly, and should be stored in a tightly sealed, sterilized container in a cool, dark place[29]. Mustard can last indefinitely, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation[30]. Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar will often revitalize dried out mustard. Some types of prepared mustard stored for a long time may separate, causing mustard water, which can be corrected by stirring or shaking. If stored for a long time, unrefrigerated mustard can acquire a bitter taste.


Prepared mustard is generally sold at retail in glass jars or plastic bottles although in Europe it is often marketed in metal, squeezable tubes.

Nutritional value

The amounts of various nutrients in mustard seed are to be found in the USDA National Nutrient Database. [31] As a condiment, mustard averages approximately five calories per teaspoon[32].


If someone is very enthusiastic, they are said to be "as keen as mustard."[33]

To "cut the mustard" is to meet the required standard.[34]

Notable mustard manufacturers






United Kingdom

United States


See also

External links



Other links

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