SOS Mom Saver: How to Make Mustard

Part of being frugal for me means learning how to use up everything that I have in my house.  I also want to learn how to do as much from scratch as I can simply because then I (and not some big corporation) control what goes into our food.

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for everything; even pre-made foods.  I do use store-bought, pre-made products when I get them free or get paid to take them through couponing.  However, I still see a tremendous benefit in knowing how to make our own foods and even more...in learning how to use everything that we have in our house.

One particular item has been sitting unused in our house for nearly 14 years.  It's a jar of mustard seed that came with the spice rack we got as a wedding gift.  I realize that this seed may have lost some flavor because it's so old, but according to my research, it should still be good.  So...what do I do with it?  Logic would state that mustard seeds are used to make...oh gee...I don't know...mustard?

Remember, everything that we eat now was at one time or another made from scratch.  So it can't be that hard, can it?  Much to my delight, I found that making mustard from scratch is even easier than making ketchup or mayo from scratch which is saying a lot because those are both fairly easy to make.

The easiest way to make mustard involves only two ingredients:
  • Mustard seeds (There are several different types you can use each of which or the combination of which will give you a different flavor.)
    • Yellow will yield the least spicy & most traditional "mustard" taste
    • Brown will give you a dijon-type mustard taste
    • Black will give you the spiciest mustard
    • You can also combine the 3 mustards in various ways to create different tastes 
  • Water
The instructions are equally as simple:
  • Grind the mustard seeds (ideally using a mortar & pestle or a coffee grinder, but if necessary a blender or food processor may be used)
  • Add enough water to the mustard seeds to create a paste of desired consistency
    • If you like thicker, spicier mustard then you'll use less water
    • If you like a thinner or less spicy mustard, you'll use more water
But...(you know there had to be a "but", right)...there are many different variations for mustard.  Using just water will yield the spiciest mustard.  This is part of what I LOVE about making things from scratch, though.  I can change the flavor to suit my family's tastes.

The biggest way to change the flavor of mustard is by using vinegar instead of (or with) water to make the paste.  The type of vinegar you use will change the taste of the mustard.  There is "regular" distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, raw apple cider vinegar (which has a much stronger, more distinct taste), white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar.

There are also other ingredients you can add to your mustard in varying combinations.  Here are several of them:
  • Salt (Here, the flavor can vary based on whether you use table salt, sea salt, or another type of salt)
  • Pepper (Freshly ground peppercorns will provide more flavor than pre-ground pepper.)
  • Turmeric (This spice has a "mustardy" smell & taste.  It's used in mustard mainly to give it the "mustardy" color.)  Is "mustardy" a word?  I guess it is now.
  • Paprika (This is used in traditional store-bought mustard.)
  • Ginger (This will "spice-up" your mustard)
  • Garlic 
  • Honey (You would use this for a honey-mustard.  As if that wasn't obvious.)
It's not required, but if you want to really amp up the flavor, let the mustard sit in a glass jar in the fridge for 2 weeks before using it.  This will allow the flavors to really come out.  The mixture will keep for 3-6 months in the fridge.

I would recommend that you mix your mustards up in small batches (using only a tablespoon of mustard to start) until you find the flavors that your family likes best.  This way, you won't feel terribly guilty about tossing the mixture if your family doesn't like it.

If you prefer not to eat the mustard seeds but still want to use them, you could put the ground mustard seeds in your socks to prevent cold feet in the winter.  No.  Really.  That's apparently what they did in the "good ole days".    Don't you ever wonder how people knew about neat tricks like that back before the internet?  I'm just sayin'...

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