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How to Make Fermented Herbal Mustard

How to Make Fermented Herbal Mustard

 I 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.

Different Types of HERBAL MUSTARD

Different Types of HERBAL MUSTARD

Mustard, a widely recognized condiment with a history spanning centuries and global usage, is available in various forms. While yellow mustard is the most familiar type in the US, the condiment comes in diverse varieties, all originating from mustard seeds obtained from the mustard plant.

There are three distinct types of mustard seeds, each sourced from different regions, imparting unique flavors to the condiment:

  1. White Mustard Seeds: These seeds, despite their name, exhibit a light yellow color and are the most prevalent type. White mustard seeds are favored for their milder flavor, making them a common choice in mustard production.
  2. Brown Mustard Seeds: Brown mustard seeds, spicier than white but milder than black, are often found in spicy mustard or stone ground mustard from stores. Their inclusion contributes to a distinct flavor profile.
  3. Black Mustard Seeds: Less common and spicier than both white and brown seeds, black mustard seeds share a similar appearance with brown ones but are slightly larger. Their use adds an extra kick to the mustard.

To make mustard, the cracked or broken seeds are combined with liquid and other spices, creating a sauce. The choice of mustard seeds influences the resulting flavor and color of the condiment. In my version of “How to Make Fermented Herbal Mustard” in this article, I delve into the process of crafting a unique, fermented herbal mustard using these foundational principles.

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A Recipe for Fermented, Whole-Grain Herbal Mustard

As previously noted, there exists a plethora of mustard varieties, several of which can be crafted through the fermentation process. Making mustard through fermentation is a straightforward recipe that requires minimal time and is highly adaptable to suit individual tastes.


  • 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.

Instructions on How to Make Fermented Herbal Mustard

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.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, crafting fermented herbal mustard is a journey into the world of flavors and fermentation. The result is a condiment that not only enhances the taste of your dishes but also promotes gut health through the introduction of probiotics. Embrace the creativity this process allows, experimenting with different herb combinations to tailor the mustard to your liking. Share this delightful creation with friends and family, introducing them to the wonders of homemade fermented condiments.


How long does the fermentation process take?

The fermentation time varies but generally ranges from 3 days to a week. Keep an eye on the mustard, tasting it periodically to achieve the desired flavor.

Can I adjust the spiciness of the mustard?

Absolutely! Adjust the spiciness by experimenting with the ratio of mustard seeds or by adding milder herbs to balance the heat.

Are there specific herbs that work best for fermentation?

While classic choices include thyme, rosemary, and dill, feel free to explore and find herb combinations that suit your taste preferences.

How should I store the fermented herbal mustard?

Store the finished mustard in a sealed container in the refrigerator. This helps maintain its freshness and flavor over an extended period.

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