Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cutting the mustard

Readers, please don't think for a moment that I have abandoned you. Tales are forthcoming about community garden workdays and cooking lessons and working with various farmers markets leading up to the start of the season. (Farmers' market season, that is, though tax season is also breathing down my neck.)

Today -- or tonight, rather -- I offer a simple recipe, one which I have been fiddling with for a couple of years now. I recall the evening my friend Vinnie and his partner had me over for dinner those many nights ago, toward the end of which I left with an old issue of Saveur magazine that contained the base recipe for my now much beloved mustard recipe. There are a few standard ingredients -- namely, the ground spices -- and there are some variables: 1) mustard seeds, 2) vinegar, and 3) beer. The variations on this theme are endless.

The original recipe calls for stout, brown mustard seeds, and red wine vinegar. I tried that the first time and it was inarguably delicious. I gave most of it away as Christmas gifts that first winter. Necessity -- i.e., it being too cold out some nights to head out on my bike when I'd sense the first tinglings of a mustard craving -- has led me to try everything from balsamic to apple cider vinegar, and all kinds of mixes in between. I've sometimes snagged a few cups of yellow mustard seeds, and other times the smaller dark seeds, and still other times a mix of the two from dad (who should probably start buying stock in bulk mustard seed, considering his frequenting of the Middle Eastern spice shop since I picked up this mustard making habit). I've experimented with porters, English ales, apricot ales, my own pumpkin ale. Most recently, one of the last bottles of the Tall, Dark, and Belgian made its way into a batch of exceptionally spicy, stone-ground mustard. (The real secret that puts the current batch over the top? Garple.) Slathered on corned beef for a St. Patrick's Day gathering or two this weekend, stirred into horseradish for a sandwich, or mixed into salad dressings, I assure you, this mustard holds its own.

Okay, enough stalling: here's the recipe so you can make your own
Basic Spicy Mustard


  • 12-ounce bottle of beer
  • 1 1/2 cups whole mustard seed
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in a glass, plastic, or ceramic mixing bowl (or if you're really careful with the beer pouring, this fits EXACTLY into a glass quart jar -- yeah, I just threw down that challenge).

Cover with a towel or recycled sandwich bag and let the mixture sit on your counter for about 2 days. This allows the flavors to talk to each other and the mustard seeds to soften.

Puree in a food processor, pausing occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. After about 3 minutes, you'll suddenly see the mustard thicken and become creamy. (It's kind of like magic. At least Kenton and I think so.) You're done! And friends and family will be so impressed, while you secretly know all it took were a few simple ingredients and a couple days of patience.

You can smear some on a sandwich right then, but be sure to put the rest into a glass container, or a few smaller containers, and store in the refrigerator. It starts off quite spicy, but it'll mellow after a few weeks. Use it within about 6 months... not that I've had ANY mustard last that long around here....

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ibti!

    This mustard sounds amazing - I am going to try it tonight!

    We've met very briefly once - at the Slow Food DC potluck. I introduced myself to you and gushed about your yellow beet day pickles! ;-) I had first heard about your fermentation greatness at Rooting DC...

    I have a question to ask you, so wondering if you mind sending me a quick message rsoucieatgmaildotcom.

    - Thanks!

    Riva Soucie


Thanks for your comment! Just making sure this isn't spam.... Thanks for your patience. :)Ibti