The Spice Series: Mustard Seed

This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Mustard Seeds!

Illustration by Christy Beckwith


**Mustard seeds and powder are among the world’s most popular spices. They are both used to make prepared mustards, and you can have lots of fun making combinations of flavors for mustard!

**The ancient Romans were the first to develop the concept of mustard-making. They spread the practice throughout their empire. For example, the Romans too mustard seeds to Dijon, France, and that city became home to the first commercial mustard business (and everyone has heard of Dijon mustard, right?).


**Mustard seeds come in three different forms: (1) White/yellow mustard seeds, which are popular in the United States because they make our typical yellow mustard. They are the largest of the seeds and have the mildest flavor. (2) Brown mustard seeds, which are popular in Europe and Asia, sometimes go by the name ‘Chinese mustard’ and are medium size and pungent. (3) Black mustard seeds, which was from India, are the smallest and the most potent and spicy of the three.

**Mustard seeds have no aroma or flavor, however, when the seed coat is broken and comes into contact with COLD (not hot) water, a chemical process occurs which then produces the distinctive flavor of the condiment mustard.


**This article includes information on the medicinal benefitsculinary uses, and even how to grow your own Mustard Seeds. I hope you like this material, and, as always, if you have any questions/comments/additional sources for me, please post in the comment section below! Enjoy!


Medicinal Benefitshealth-benefits-of-mustard

**First and foremost, the mustard seed comes from the mustard plant, and this plant is from the crucifer family, which includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage. The crucifer plant family is known for being cancer-fighting plants. Mustard seeds have been found to contain concentrated amounts of the same anti-cancer compounds found in those greens. They may be small, but they have remarkable preventative effects on cancers, including colon, lung, prostate, bladder, and ovarian cancers.


**Much research is still being done in the medical and scientific world on the medicinal benefits of mustard seed. Here is the list of what they are extensively researching. Mustard seed may help prevent/treat: Cancer, Cholesterol problems, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Diabetes type 2, Heart Disease, Inflammation (in the form of a poultice), Prostate problems, and respiratory issues.


**One suggestion for curing bronchitis or other respiratory problems is to infuse the mustard seeds in water and let it cool down for 5 minutes. Take the tea three times a day.


Culinary Uses3MustardSeedTypes

**In Indian cuisine, they often take brown or black mustard seeds and fry them in hot oil until they pop. This process lessens the spiciness and leaves behind a nutty flavor. Indian cuisine also uses whole mustard seeds in their chutneys, curries, pickles, spice blends, and legume dishes (called dals).


**The general rule with mustard seeds is: the smaller and darker, the hotter. Black seeds are the spiciest, and often have a nutty aftertaste. Brown seeds are sweeter and more mellow than black, and white seeds have the most mild and subtle flavor of all.

**Mustard seed pairs well with these spices/herbs: Allspice, Black cumin seed, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Fennel seed, Ginger, Star anise, Tamarind, and Turmeric.

**Mustard seeds complement recipes that feature: Ale and beer, Beef, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Curries, Fish, Pickles, Sauerkraut, and Sausage.


**It is easy, fun, and many people say it is addicting to make your own mustard condiments. At its’ very basic level, prepared mustard is made by combining ground mustard seeds with cold water (or another liquid, including: milk, wine, beer, etc.) to draw out some of the heat, it is soaked for about 10 minutes. Then, you add vinegar or another acidic liquid to hold the heat in, and then you add flavorings of your choice. There are countless flavorings to use: other spices, edible flowers, wines, chiles, honey, and countless other options.


**If anyone has a favorite homemade mustard recipe to share, please add a link in the comment section below!


**Of course, you do not only have to use mustard seeds to make prepared mustard. Here are some other ideas:

• Add whole seeds to marinades for grilled food, barbecue sauces, and rubs.

• Toast mustard seeds and grated coconut, and sprinkle over steamed beans.

• Mustard seeds go naturally with all the cruciferous vegetables. Fry seeds in oil until they pop, and sprinkle them over cooked cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collards, or mustard greens.

• Combine mustard seeds with 1 tablespoon each paprika and oregano for a coating on red meats.

• Mix ¼ cup ground mustard seeds with ¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce and the juice of one lime, and smear it over leg of lamb or other lamb roast about an hour before roasting.

• Make mustard vinaigrette by combining 2 teaspoons of mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Slowly whisk in a cup of extra-virgin olive oil.


**If you have any mustard seed recipes, please add them to the comment section below! I love getting new ideas!

**Whole mustard seeds will remain fresh for at least 3 years if properly stored. Whole mustard seeds and dry mustard are usually available in normal grocery stores. However, sometimes it is difficult to find brown and black mustard seeds outside of Indian and Asian stores. You might need to buy those ones online.


How to Growmustard-plantflower

**All three of the mustard-seed plants produce about 20-40 small pods each, and each pod holds about 6 seeds. An acre of mustard plants can give you up to 1 ton of raw seeds. They have pretty yellow flowers in early summer that are attractive as well.


**Mustard greens and mustard seeds come from the same plant. The greens are easy to grow and harvest, and the mustard seeds are easy to thresh from the plant. It is definitely worth trying to grow yourself for either the greens, the seeds, or both! If you want the greens, it is best to use brown mustard seed plants. The white/yellow and black seeds make more bitter leaves, that, while still edible, might not be the taste you were expecting.

**This post is mainly about Mustard Seeds, so I will keep Mustard greens information to a minimum. I will try to add a post on Mustard greens in the future.



**Plant your mustard seeds into the garden as early as you can. They love cool weather, and you can often have both a spring and fall crop.

**Since mustard is in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, do not plant your mustard in the same area that you had had these other family members in the past season, or you will make your mustard vulnerable to the diseases in the soil.

**Make sure to plant in rich, well-drained soil, at least partial sun is desirable as well.



**Mustard can grow nicely in containers. The plants are compact and seldom grow taller than 3 feet high.

**If you leave some mustard seeds on the plant, the plant will self-seed. That’s right: after your first planting, you can let the plant self-seed from then on (however, if you are planning on moving the plant, you will want to make sure you get ALL the mustard seeds from the plant so that it does NOT self-seed).

**4-6 mustard plants will give plenty of seeds and enough greens for a family of 4 to enjoy at least once a week.



**Make sure to keep your mustard plants free of weeds. They do not like competition, so your mustard will only thrive in an area without weeds.

**Water whenever the weather has been dry. If the plant becomes moisture-stressed, it will go to seed early, but the seeds will be less tasty. Try not to let your plant become stressed so that you can get the full-tasting experience with your mustard seeds.

**They are not heavy-feeders, but if you give them plenty of compost, they will grow leaves faster.

**One particular pest problem is cabbage worms. Look over your plants often and pick off any small caterpillars or worms that are eating your leaves.



**You can harvest the mustard greens at any time during the growing season by clipping the desired amount of leaves from each plant. The larger the leaves, the stronger the flavor will be. Make sure to cut them off and not just pull them off.

**You can eat mustard greens raw or cooked. They are full of vitamins A, K, C, and E. They also give you folic acid, calcium, and fiber.


**To harvest the mustard seeds, leave the stalks on the plants until the seed pod has dried. The pods will change from green to brown, and this is when you want to pick them. If you leave to them to ripen even more, the pods will shatter and blow seeds into your garden.

**Pods should be air-dried in a warm place for about two weeks. Spread them out on a screen or old sheet. Once they are dried, gently crush the pods to remove the seeds. You can put the pods in a bag and gently shake, and most of the pods will let loose their seeds.

**The seeds can be stored at this point and used as whole mustard seed, or you can grind them to make prepared mustard.


Illustration by Christy Beckwith

There you go! This is most of the information that I could find about mustard seeds. Please click here for my introduction to my Spice Series.  Again, if you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!




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  1. I’ve had a successful year with celery and an unsuccessful year. First time I bought from a nursery and had celery well past frost. Planted in full sun, average garden soil. Did nothing but mulch it and let it go. Last year bought from a different nursery planted in part shade in a raised bed with soil I mixed. Rich soil that held a lot of moisture. It was miserable. Within a few weeks the plants started wilting beginning with the outside stalks. It eventually progressed to include the heart. At that point I pulled them out. No visible disease. Nothing black or brown. Just wilting and soft stalks until they began rotting. Any ideas? I’m starting from seed this year in a new greenhouse. Hoping I can work it out because that first year has me hooked. The celery was amazing. So much better than storebought!

  2. Thanks to your post I have s great crop of celery. This is my first time planting and your post has been very helpful. It amazes me how fast it regrows itself very quickly.

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