The Story of Mustard

Here in beautiful northern Pennsylvania, the Endless Mountains Mustard Company continues a tradition dating back thousands of years -- the creation of wonderful prepared mustards.

The use of mustard seeds as a spice is described in Indian and Sumerian texts dating back to 3000 BC. Mustard plants are mentioned frequently in Greek and Roman writings and in the Bible. In the New Testament, the tiny mustard seed is a symbol of faith.

SaskatchewanLike many other foods with ancient roots, mustard has been heralded as a curative. Hippocrates, among other ancient physicians, used mustard seed medicinally. Mustard stimulates appetite and digestion, and clears the sinuses. Mustard increases blood circulation, hence its use as a dressing to bring increased blood flow to inflamed areas of the body.

One of mustard's greatest health benefits is that it provides tremendous flavor for few calories and little fat. A gram of mustard flour contains just 4.3 calories. Mustard itself contains no cholesterol, only trace amounts of vegetable fat, and is between 25-32% protein.

Mustard is unusual among spices in that it is mainly grown in temperate regions of the world. The American and Canadian Great Plains regions are among the principal suppliers of mustard seed.

Three varieties of mustards produce seeds, which in turn are used in various aspects of cooking.

  • Black mustard seed (Brassica nigra) is the most pungent of the three. It is used extensively in Indian cooking, giving bite to curries.
  • Brassica alba, a native to the Mediterranean region, produces large yellow seeds. These are the ones most often used whole, either added to marinades or pickling brines, or sautéed as part of a seasoning mix. It is also the mildest of the three, and is often used in the production of American yellow mustard. It is the addition of turmeric that gives "ballpark" mustard its intensely yellow hue.
  • Brown mustard (Brassica juncea) is used to make Dijon-style mustards.

Once the seeds are ground into powder various ingredients are added to it to make what is called prepared mustard. The varieties of prepared mustards seem to only be limited to ingredients available and imagination. Beyond the familiar varieties like ballpark and Dijon style mustards, there are more exotic mustards flavored with honey, dill, horseradish, garlic and even raspberry.

The enhanced mustards produced by the Endless Mountains Mustard Company can give a whole new dimension to sauces, dips and dressings, and you can also use them in cooking.

  • Brush on chicken, fish and pork chops, then bread for a moist and delicious change.
  • Add a tablespoon to your favorite meat loaf recipe!
  • Toss into potato or pasta salads to give them extra zip!

Check our Cooking With Mustard page for more great ideas!