Mustard might be the gateway drug of homemade condiments. I had never ventured to make my own until I whipped up this batch of spicy goodness last weekend. Now I have three cups of mustard seeds waiting in my pantry, and a bevy of must-make mustard ideas in my recipe box. Pretty soon I’ll be canning my own relish and ketchup, just you wait!
Even if I never progress to that level of condiment creativity, I will definitely be making all my mustard from scratch in the future. The process couldn’t be easier; you just mix together mustard seeds and the liquids of your choice, let them hang out together for a few days, and then blend the finished mustard to the desired consistency.
Hank Shaw describes the chemistry and magic of mustard-making better than I ever could, and it was his introductory guide to mustard that sparked my interest in developing a Beer Week recipe of my own. I used Shaw’s advice and this recipe for Guinness Beer Mustard as the starting points for my mustard, and followed my tastebuds to a recipe that fit my needs– namely, to top a sausage, apple and onion sandwich, and to serve with toasted sesame honey sticks during the World Series this week.
I started with a mix of yellow and brown seeds, since I wanted heat from the darker seeds and the bright color of the lighter seeds. To help make their flavor more mild, I toasted them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until they were fragrant, but not popping. (Mustard seeds will pop like popcorn if you toast them at a high temperature.) For the liquid in my recipe, I used Real Ale Brewing’s Full Moon Pale Rye Ale and champagne vinegar. I wish that I could say I chose the beer for a specific reason, but I bought a few bottles on a whim and decided to use it in this recipe without tasting it. Luckily, my gamble paid off, and the slightly bitter, hoppy flavor of the beer came through beautifully in the finished mustard.
Full Moon Pale Ale Mustard (yields about 1 1/2 cups mustard)
3 tablespoons brown mustard seeds
3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, chilled (if this is not available where you live, use another unsweet pale ale)
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons local honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, for color
Toast the mustard seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Remove seeds from heat and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mix cold beer, vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and turmeric in a non-reactive container with a lid. Add cooled mustard seeds and stir to mix everything together. Put the lid on the container and leave it in a cool, dry place overnight.
The next day, put the mustard mixture into a blender or food processor and process it until it reaches the consistency that you like. If necessary, add a little water to thin the mustard. (My mustard reached a spreadable consistency, with some whole seeds intact, after about 3 minutes on low in a Kitchenaid blender, with 1 tablespoon of water to loosen it a bit.) Put the mustard back in the covered container and store it in the refrigerator for at least 24 more hours before serving.
A note about the wait: one of the most important ingredients in this mustard is time. Don’t despair if it tastes too hot and sharp to serve on days one and two of the process; by the third day, it should mellow into a deep and spicy-flavored condiment with just the right bite.