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Mustard 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, B. nigra). The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, salt, lemon juice, or other liquids, and sometimes other flavourings and spices, to create a paste or sauce ranging in colour from bright yellow to dark brown. The tastes range from sweet to spicy.
Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is a popular addition to sandwiches, salads, steaks, tofu, yogurt, 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 as a condiment and in the cuisine of India and Bangladesh, the Mediterranean, northern and southeastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa, making it one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world.
The English word "mustard" derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde (Modern French is moutarde). The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, ("must", young wine) – the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens, (hot, flaming). It is first attested in English in the late 13th century, though it is found as a surname a century earlier.
The 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". 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 sauce, and oil, and was intended as a glaze for spit-roasted boar.
The Romans likely exported mustard seed to Gaul, and by the 10th century, monks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production. The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292. Dijon, France, became a recognized centre for mustard making by the 13th century. The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 70 gallons of mustard crème in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336. 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. Their success was aided by the introduction of the first automatic mustard-making machine. In 1937, Dijon mustard was granted an Appellation d'origine contrôlée. Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world.
The early use of mustard as a condiment in England is attested from the year 1390 in the book The Forme of Cury which was written by King Richard II's master cooks. It was prepared 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. The town of Tewkesbury was well known for its high-quality mustard balls, originally made with ground mustard mixed with horseradish and dried for storage, which were then exported to London and other parts of the country, and are even mentioned in William Shakespeare's play King Henry the Fourth, Part II.
The use of mustard as a hot dog condiment was first said to be seen in the US at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when the bright-yellow French's mustard was introduced by the R.T. French Company.
Beyond history, archaeological excavations in the Indus Valley (Indian Subcontinent) have revealed that mustard was cultivated there. The civilization existed until about 1800 BC.
Mustard is most often used at the table as a condiment on cold meats. It is also used as an ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinades, and barbecue sauce. Mustard is also a popular accompaniment to hot dogs, pretzels, and bratwurst. In the Netherlands and northern Belgium it is commonly used to make mustard soup; which includes mustard, cream, parsley, garlic and pieces of salted bacon. Mustard as an emulsifier can stabilize a mixture of two or more immiscible liquids, such as oil and water. Added to Hollandaise sauce, mustard can inhibit curdling.
Dry mustard is used in food preparation, and can be mixed with water to use as a condiment. In its dry form, powdered mustard lacks potency; the addition of water releases the pungent compounds. The pungency of mustard is always reduced by heating; if added to a dish during cooking, it gives less pungency than if added afterwards.
Mustard oil can be extracted from the chaff and meal of the seed.
Mixing ground mustard seeds with water causes a chemical reaction between two compounds in the seed: the enzyme myrosinase and various glucosinolates such as sinigrin, myrosin, and sinalbin. The myrosinase enzyme turns the glucosinolates into various isothiocyanate compounds known generally as mustard oil. The concentrations of different glucosinolates in mustard plant varieties, and the different isothiocyanates that are produced, make different flavours and intensities.
Prepared mustard condiment may also have ingredients giving salt, sour (vinegar), and sweet flavours. Turmeric is often added to commercially-prepared mustards, mainly to give them a yellow colour.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE
Prepared mustard is sold at retail in glass jars, plastic bottles, or metal squeeze tubes. Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration for safety; it will not grow mould, mildew, or harmful bacteria.
When whole mustard seeds are wetted and crushed, an enzyme is activated that releases pungent sulphurous compounds; but they quickly evaporate. An acidic liquid, such as wine or vinegar, produces a longer-lasting paste. However, even then prepared mustard loses its pungency over time; the loss can be slowed by keeping a sealed container (opaque, or in the dark) in a cool place, or refrigerator. Mustard can last indefinitely without becoming inedible or harmful, though it may dry out, lose flavour, or brown from oxidation. Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar may improve dried-out mustard. Some types of prepared mustard stored for a long time may separate, which can be corrected by stirring or shaking. If stored unrefrigerated for a long time, mustard can acquire a bitter taste.
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. They vary 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. The Tecuci mustard from Romania is a sweet variety very popular in Eastern Europe and is suitable for barbecued meats such as mititei. Sometimes, prepared mustard is simmered to moderate its bite; sometimes, it is aged. Irish mustard is a whole-grain type blended with whiskey, stout (commonly Guinness), or honey.
American mustard (Yellow mustard in North America)
Spicy brown/deli-style mustard
"Dijon mustard" is not a protected food name. While mustard factories still operate in Dijon and adjoining towns, most mustard described as "Dijon" is manufactured elsewhere. Even that produced in France is made almost exclusively from Canadian mustard seed.
Combinations of English mustard with honey or Demerara sugar are used in British cuisine to coat grilled lamb cutlets or pork chops.
Hot pepper mustard
Sweet mustard (Bavaria)
Mustard is a spice that was cultivated in the Indus Valley Civilization and is one of the important spices used in the Indian subcontinent today. Kasundi is a popular Bengali spicy relish of mustard. There are many different kinds of Kasundi available. It is used during regular meals and with a variety of fruits and street food.
A strong mustard can by its nature make the eyes water, and sting the tongue, palate, and throat. Home-made mustards may be hotter and more intensely flavoured than most commercial preparations.
Any part of the mustard plant can also, rarely, cause allergic reactions in some people, including anaphylaxis. Since 2005 pre-packed food in the European Union must show on its label if it contains mustard.
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