I used to hate mustard. I used to hate a lot of bitter and sour tastes – pickles, sauerkraut (which I’m still working on) and just about anything that made my lips pucker and my eyes squint. If you did too, you’ll love this whole grain beer mustard. It starts out sweet from honey and brown sugar, and is followed by a crunch of spicy mustard seed.
We’ve all heard that our tastes change over time in hopes that children who hate broccoli and all green vegetables may in fact grow up to love them. In a recent conversation with a sommelier, I learned that our tastebuds die off and reproduce by the thousands each day, and in about a week we have brand new tastebuds waiting for us to test them with new flavors. This was brought up when we discussed how spicy and pungent foods may sit on your tongue for a few days, but if you want to cleanse your palate, give yourself a week in between these meals and you won’t affect the rest of your tastes.
Interesting, eh? So yeah, I keep trying mustard, and the more I try, the more I like it.
My idea for this whole grain beer mustard was inspired by Ball. They sent me a case of their gorgeous 4 ounce Jelly Jars that are perfect for condiments and can be easily shared amongst friends and family. Ball creates the best canning jars out there and each case I purchase is always of high quality. If you did not want to can this mustard recipe, you could ladle the mustard into two Ball pint jars and leave them in your refrigerator for up to a few months!
I told you we’d talk about science, history and food from now on, so let’s take a moment to discuss how mustard is made.
A SHORT HISTORY AND CHEMICAL MAKEUP OF MUSTARD
Found first in Europe and China, mustard seeds were the first and only native pungent spice available in Europe. Varieties of mustards date back to the Middle Ages, where each nation had their own distinctive taste.
Mustard seeds are about 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrate and 1/3 oil.* The seed coat is rich in mucilage, a sticky, glue-like substance, which explains why ground white/yellow mustard is used in sausages to help bind the meat particles together.
Mustard can be made from whole seeds or mustard powder (also called mustard flour), which is where mustard seeds are ground and then sieved to remove the seed coat. The seeds and powder have little pungency – it’s only when they are mixed with liquid that the flavors begin the develop. Cooking and applying heat to the seeds or powder will reduce the pungency, so add it to your dishes at the end of the cooking process to retain the heat.
Cold water can be a simple liquid, but why not add beer? When water is used in a recipe, I immediately ask myself – could I use beer instead? Yes, you can!
TWO TYPES OF MUSTARD: SEEDS AND POWDER
When you go to a grocery store, you’ll see several varieties of mustard – Dijon, yellow, stone ground, whole grain, country… the list goes on. Each mustard was made by either whole seeds, yellow mustard powder, or a mix of both.
Yellow mustard can be made simply by mixing mustard powder with cold water (warm or hot water can kill/stop the reaction from happening). Yes, it really is that simple.
- The scientific reaction goes like this: Dry mustard powder, when mixed with cold water, will begin to take on heat for about 10 or 15 minutes where it reaches its peak. After that, the heat dies off. To preserve the level of heat that you want, add an acid (such as vinegar, lemon juice, etc) which will stop the mustard from getting any hotter or from losing it’s heat. Try adding cold water to mustard powder and tasting the mixture every few minutes. When it reaches the level of heat you want, add the acid and let the mixture sit. Serious Eats explains the scientific reaction further.
- You can add other flavors to your yellow mustard to make it more unique. Salt, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric (for added color) and honey are just a few ideas.
Whole grain mustard is slightly different. Mustard seeds come in three varieties: yellow (sometimes called white outside of the US), brown and black, which are listed in order from mildest heat to the hottest. These seeds soak up liquid and will get softer and larger in size before you pulse them in a food processor or blender to break them up. The bitter mustard flavor is inside these seeds and can make a delicious mustard without any powder at all, though this method is more difficult to control exactly how much heat you want. Instead, choose the mustard seeds based on your heat preference.
- The scientific reaction goes like this: Cold water is mixed with the seeds and left to soak overnight. I noticed no difference in absorption between 24 and 48 hours, though some recipes suggest soaking longer than 24 hours. The soaked seeds are processed in a food processor or blender until about half of the seeds are broken up. This will start the heat reaction again, so the seeds are quickly mixed with an acid to stop the mustard from getting too hot. Other flavors can also be added at this time.
For this recipe, I decided to use mustard seeds because I had them on hand and the texture of whole mustard seeds has grown on me (just like the bitter flavors of mustard). Eventually, I’d like to mix whole seeds with mustard powder, but this recipe is a simple starter mustard for anyone interested in trying it at home with some basic knowledge of how mustard works.
The beer I used was Lagunitas India Pale Ale because I adore IPA’s and figured the bitter mustard could use a better beer to pair it with. While the flavor of the beer is mild in this recipe, it still beats using cold water. I suggest using an IPA, pale ale, stout or even an imperial stout in this recipe.
What I love most about this recipe is how it starts sweet with the honey and brown sugar flavors, but then the bite of the mustard seeds gives way to heat and bitter pungency. Serve this mustard with soft or crunchy pretzels, on sandwiches or use it in place of mustard in your favorite entrees.
WHOLE GRAIN BEER MUSTARD
MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS
- 1/2 cup brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup + 1/2 cup beer (I used Lagunitas IPA)
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- Measure out the brown and yellow mustard seeds into a glass or non-reactive bowl. Stir in 1 cup of beer and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and place a lid on top or cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 24 hours.
- In a small saucepan, heat the other 1/2 cup of beer and the rest of the ingredients over medium heat, whisking to combine. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool slightly.
- Add the soaked seeds into the food processor and pulse for a few seconds until about half of the seeds are broken up. Stir in the cooled liquid mixture. Allow the mustard to sit in the glass or nonreactive bowl to chill overnight in the refrigerator before canning. The mustard can remain refrigerated in a glass jar for several months.
- Sterilize 9 of the 4-ounce jelly jars with the lids and bands. In a small saucepan, heat the mustard gently until warm. You don’t want the cold mustard inside hot jars. Ladle the mustard in the jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims dry, then top with the lids and bands and process for 10 minutes. Store in a cool, dry place.
Disclosure: Ball sent me a case of 4-ounce jelly jars to inspire me to create a recipe. All thoughts, opinions, and research are my own.