was raised on cheap, yellow mustard. Not until I was an adult did I taste the savory flavor of a fine Dijon or the clear-the-sinuses heat of a Chinese mustard. But never have I had the opportunity to taste an herbal mustard. So, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to trying this recipe for fermented, whole-grain herbal mustard.
Traditionally made mustards were once the pride of a number of small European villages. The French even have a specific word for the once widely respected trade of mustard maker: moutardier.
The very first mustard recipe ever documented makes our modern versions seem simple in comparison, as it incorporated a number of herbs to bring out the flavors of the food it would eventually be served with. The 4th century recipe included caraway, lovage, coriander, dill, thyme and oregano as well as celery and onion to round out the flavor. It also included the addition of fermented fish sauce, made separately from the mustard ferment, as well as honey and olive oil for sweetness and richness of flavor. As you can see, French’s Yellow Mustard has little to offer in comparison to this flavor-filled, fermented sauce.
While making mustard is generally quite simple to do at home, creating exciting flavors that make your homemade creation more than just an imitation of commercial varieties takes some creativity. Integrating herbal flavors can lead to endless variations in your own homemade fermented mustards. Common choices include thyme and rosemary, but just about any culinary herb can be added to alter the final flavor profile of your mustard.
Once you’ve selected your herbal profile, consider adding other vegetables such as caramelized onions or roasted garlic. If you’re truly adventurous, fruity versions are also an option for taking your mustards to a whole new dimension. Consider a blueberry/thyme mustard with just a mild sweetness as an accompaniment to meat dishes. Maybe try an apple sage mustard for dipping pretzels or topping a pork roast. Following is a basic recipe for a whole-grain herbal mustard with which you can create your own flavorful variety.
A Recipe for Fermented, Whole-Grain Herbal Mustard
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup mustard seeds (yellow or brown)
- 2 Tbsp. salt, divided
- 1/4 cup dry mustard powder
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or balsamic for variation)
- 1-3 Tbsp. fresh herb leaves of your choice
(Optional) up to 1/4 cup pureed fruit or vegetables such as garlic, onion, apple, blueberry, celery, etc.
1. Combine water, whole mustard seeds and 1.5 Tbsp. salt in a bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for at least two hours, but up to overnight. This softens the mustard seeds and prepares them for processing.
2. Drain the mustard seeds through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, discarding the liquid and reserving the soaked seeds for the next step.
3. Place the soaked mustard seeds into a food processor and pulse until they’re crushed and beginning to break apart, but not completely pulverized. This is one of the steps you can use to customize your mustard, allowing for a chunkier or smoother final product.
4. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until just blended. For a chunkier final product, this step can be mixed by hand to leave the mustard seeds larger and avoid pulverizing them.
5. Transfer to a wide-mouth pint Mason jar and seal with a Fermentools airlock and lid. Allow to ferment at room temperature for three days to four weeks. If a shorter fermentation is used, lid and store in the refrigerator until at least four weeks has passed to allow the mustard to develop full flavor before consuming.
Traditionally fermented mustards store indefinitely, but for best results and to prevent drying or oxidation, consume your mustard within one year.
Don’t use just any salt in your ferments. Use Himalayan Powder Salt. This mineral-rich salt is designed to dissolve readily in cool water, cutting down your preparation time. And, naturally rich in trace minerals, it enhances the nutritional value of your end product.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at VermontMangoPlantation.com.
Recipe adapted from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving