Mustard (condiment)

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Mustard, yellow
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy276 kJ (66 kcal)
Carbohydrates8 g
- Sugars3 g
- Dietary fiber3 g
Fat3 g
Protein4 g
Magnesium49 mg (14%)
Sodium1120 mg (75%)
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
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Mustard seeds (top-left) may be ground (top-right) to make different kinds of mustard. The other four mustards pictured are a simple table mustard with turmeric coloring (center left), a Bavarian sweet mustard (center-right), a Dijon mustard (lower-left), and a coarse French mustard made mainly from black mustard seeds (lower-right).

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 flavorings and spices, to create a paste or sauce ranging in color from bright yellow to dark brown.

Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is a popular addition to sandwiches, salads, 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 in the cuisine of India, the Mediterranean, northern and southeastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa,[1] 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. 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.[2]


Rashi says that Abraham served calf tongue with mustard to the angels who visited him.[1]

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".[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292.[6] Dijon, France, became a recognized center for mustard making by the 13th century.[7] The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 70 gallons of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336.[8] 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.[9] Their success was aided by the introduction of the first automatic mustard-making machine.[9] In 1937, Dijon mustard was granted an Appellation d'origine contrôlée.[5] Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world.[7]

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.[10] 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,[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

Culinary uses[edit]

Mustard, yellow
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy276 kJ (66 kcal)
Carbohydrates8 g
- Sugars3 g
- Dietary fiber3 g
Fat3 g
Protein4 g
Magnesium49 mg (14%)
Sodium1120 mg (75%)
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

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 reduce the possibility of curdling.[14]

Dry mustard, typically sold in cans, is used in cooking and can be mixed with water to become prepared mustard.

Nutritional value[edit]

The amounts of various nutrients in mustard seed are to be found in the USDA National Nutrient Database.[15] As a condiment, mustard averages approximately 5 calories per teaspoon.[14] Some of the many vitamins and nutrients found in mustard seeds are selenium and omega 3 fatty acid.[16]


The many varieties of mustard come in a wide range of strengths and flavors depending on the variety of mustard seed and the preparation method. The basic taste and "heat" of the mustard is determined largely by seed type, preparation and ingredients.[17][18] Preparations from the white mustard plant (Sinapis alba) have a less pungent flavor than preparations of black mustard (Brassica nigra) or brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). The temperature of the water and concentration of acids such as vinegar also determine the strength of a prepared mustard; hotter liquids and stronger acids denature the enzymes that make the strength-producing compounds. Thus, hot mustard is made with cold water, whereas using hot water results in milder mustard (other factors remaining the same).[19] The pungency of mustard is always reduced by heating, but not just at the time of preparation; if added to a dish during cooking, much of the effect of the mustard is lost.

Mustard oil can be extracted from the chaff and meal of the seed. In its powdered form, mustard lacks potency; it is the soaking that causes gustatory heat to emerge.


The mustard plant ingredient itself has a sharp, hot, pungent flavor.

Grinding and mixing 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 flavors and intensities.

Other ingredients in the prepared mustard condiment mixture account for the flavors of salt, vinegar (sour), and sugar (sweet).

Storage and shelf life[edit]

Prepared mustard is sold at retail in glass jars, plastic bottles, or metal squeeze tubes.[21] Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration; it will not grow mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria.[22] Unrefrigerated mustard will lose pungency more quickly, and should be stored in a tightly sealed, sterilized container in a cool, dark place.[23] Mustard can last indefinitely, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation.[22] Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar will often revitalize 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 for a long time, unrefrigerated mustard can acquire a bitter taste.


Yellow Romanian mustard

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. 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), and/or honey.

Yellow mustard[edit]

A bottle of American yellow mustard.

Yellow mustard is the most commonly used mustard in the United States and Canada. A very mild prepared mustard colored bright-yellow by turmeric, it was introduced in 1904 by George J. French as "cream salad mustard". Yellow mustard is regularly used with hot dogs, sandwiches, pretzels and hamburgers. It is also a key ingredient in many potato salads, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings.

Spicy brown/deli-style mustard[edit]

Spicy brown or "deli style" mustard is also commonly used in the United States. The seeds are coarsely ground, giving it a speckled brownish-yellow appearance. In general, it is spicier than yellow mustard. A variety popular in Louisiana is called Creole mustard.

Beer mustard[edit]

Beer mustard, which substitutes beer for vinegar, allegedly originated in the 20th century somewhere in the United States Midwest and has remained a popular local condiment.[24]

Dijon mustard[edit]

Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe.[25] In general, mustards from Dijon today contain white wine rather than verjuice.

Dijon mustard is not covered by a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) under the auspices of the European Union. As a result, while there are major mustard plants in Dijon and suburbs most "Dijon" mustard is manufactured elsewhere.

Whole-grain mustard[edit]

In whole-grain mustard, also known as granary mustard, the seeds are mixed whole with other ingredients. Different flavors and strengths can be achieved through different blends of mustard seed species.

Honey mustard[edit]

Honey mustard is a blend of mustard and honey, typically 1:1.[26] It is commonly used both on sandwiches, and as a dip for finger foods such as chicken strips. It can also be combined with vinegar and/or olive oil to make a salad dressing.

Combinations of English mustard with honey or Demerara sugar are used in British cuisine to coat grilled lamb cutlets or pork chops.

Fruit mustards[edit]

Fruit and mustard have been combined since the Lombard creation of mostarda di frutta in the 14th century.[8] Large chunks of fruit preserved in a sweet, hot mustard syrup were served with meat and game, and were said to be a favorite of the Dukes of Milan. Traditional variations of fruit mustards include apple mustard (traditional in Mantua and very hot), quince mostarda (or mostarda vicentina, mild and with a jam-like appearance) and cherry mustard. In various areas of Italy, the term mostarda refers to sweet condiments made with fruit, vegetables and mosto, grape juice that gets simmered until syrupy.

Hot mustards[edit]

The term hot mustard historically usually referred to mustards prepared to bring out the natural piquancy of the mustard seeds.[20] This is enhanced by using pungent black or brown mustard seeds rather than the white mustard seeds used to make mild mustards.[20][27]

Spirited mustards[edit]

Spirited mustards have added alcoholic spirits, beer or Ale for added flavor, but do not contain alcohol. Variations include Arran mustards with Whisky, brandied peach mustard, cognac mustard, Irish "pub" mustard with Whiskey, stout or Ale Jack Daniel's mustard, and stout mustard.

Sweet mustard (Bavaria)[edit]

Sweet mustard is made from kibbled mustard seed and sweetened with sugar, applesauce or honey. It is typically served with Weisswurst or Leberkäse. There are regional differences within Bavaria toward the combination of sweet mustard and Leberkäse. Other types of sweet mustards are known in Austria and Switzerland.

Notable mustard manufacturers[edit]






The Netherlands[edit]




United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]


A strong mustard can cause the eyes to water, sting the palate, and inflame the nasal passages and throat. Homemade mustards are often far hotter and more intensely flavored than commercial preparations.[28]

Mustard can also cause allergic reactions: since 2005, products in the European Union must be labelled as potential allergens if they contain mustard.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hazen, p. 13
  2. ^ "mustard". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
  3. ^ Hazen, p. 6
  4. ^ Antol, p. 16.
  5. ^ a b Hazen, p. 10
  6. ^ Antol, p. 19
  7. ^ a b Hazen, p. 10.
  8. ^ a b Antol, p. 19.
  9. ^ a b Antol, p. 21.
  10. ^ Antol, pp. 21–22.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Antol, p. 22.
  13. ^ Antol, p. 23.
  14. ^ a b Sawyer, p. 24.
  15. ^ USDA National Nutrient Database – Mustard Nutrition 
  16. ^ Mustard seeds. WHFoods. Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  17. ^ Making the most of... Mustard, BBC, retrieved 2008-02-03 
  18. ^ What makes mustard hot?,, retrieved 2008-02-03 
  19. ^ See Irma S. Rombauer & Marion R. Becker, Joy of Cooking. Bobbs-Merrill, 1975, p. 583; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker, Joy of Cooking, Scribner, 1997, p. 71.
  20. ^ a b c Parkinson, Rhonda (2009-11-09). "Chinese Hot Mustard Dip". Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  21. ^ "KÜHNE SENF". Germany: KÜHNE (manufacturer). 
  22. ^ a b Sawyer, p. 11.
  23. ^ Sawyer, p. 10.
  24. ^ History. Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  25. ^ Jack E. Staub, Ellen Buchert (18 Aug 2008). 75 Exceptional Herbs for Your Garden. Gibbs Smith. p. 170. 
  26. ^ Honey Mustard Sauce Recipe. (2011-01-31). Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  27. ^ Trowbridge, Peggy (2010-02-12). "What makes mustard hot?". Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  28. ^ Hazen, p. 15
  29. ^ "Mustard allergy". (2011-03-29). Retrieved on 2011-05-27.


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