Botanically speaking, mustard is a member of the brassica family together with vegetables such as cabbage and broccoli, and as such it contains a high level of sulphur that’s responsible for the heat we taste inside, especially in the seeds, Learn More.
Mustard can be increased either for salad use or for its seeds, which are the primary ingredient of the table condiment which most people think of when they hear the word’mustard’. The leaves might be a bit strong for use on their own, but make a excellent combination with other salads of character like rocket, baby spinach or watercress.
The majority of us, however, are more comfortable with mustard in the guise of a potently hot yellow paste that we utilize either in cooking or as a condiment – most famously of course on such regular foods as hot dogs and burgers. Many sorts of table mustard are available, ranging in intensity from the comparatively mild American mustard to the sinus-clearing English variety. French and german mustards also have their own distinctive personalities, and even in France there are many types available – comparison the standard, brown-coloured French Mustard using the milder, creamier, paler Dijon variety.
Table mustards are made by grinding down the seeds of the adult mustard plant and mixing the results with a little liquid, usually vinegar, together with a seasoning of pepper and salt, and maybe a little sugar to take the edge off the heat. The strength of the finished mustard depends in part on the type of seeds are used. Black, yellow and white varieties are available, each with different strengths and attributes, and of course there are many diverse breeds of mustard plant grown, and each will have a slightly different flavour.
Many folks think they don’t enjoy the flavor of mustard, and it is true it can be something of an acquired taste. If you tried it as a youngster and have been put off for life, why not give it another go now that you have a more mature and developed sense of taste?
Mustard also has medicinal uses, and has traditionally been made into a poultice and applied to the skin to relieve inflammation, and also in the treatment of bronchial problems such as chest colds. If you’re tempted to use it in this manner, then use a mixture of 10% mustard to 90% flour, and blended to a paste with water. Be sure though to avoid applying it to sensitive regions, and take great care to prevent the eyes!
Finally, mustard is widely used agriculturally, both as fodder for livestock and as a’green manure’ that can be grown rapidly and then plowed back into the soil to enrich and fertilize it in preparation for growing the principal harvest the following spring.