I’m off on vacation this week with my husband Scott. While we wander the wilds of Lancaster County, PA, a few of my favorite bloggers will be dropping by to keep you entertained. Up today is Kaela Porter from the blog Local Kitchen. She writes about canning, preserving and eating locally from the Hudson Valley and her blog is one of my favorites. Kaela also happens to be my mustard mentor and so I’m thrilled to post this tutorial today.
Chances are, if you’re here, you can. Maybe you’re a pickle girl, with a love of all things briny; maybe you’re a guy who really kicks out the jams. But I’m here to tell you, if you haven’t tried homemade mustard yet, you are missing out.
Of all the things I make: jams & preserves, chutneys & pickles, salsas and tomatoes galore; mustard is the shining star. The “wow” factor, the double-take, the “you really make mustard?” Friends and family are invariably impressed, even more so when they taste the goods. The paradox is that this most impressive of home-canning treats is by far the easiest one to make.
No slicing or dicing, no blanching or peeling, no running to the store for pectin, no worrying about the set. At its simplest, mustard is simply ground mustard powder + water. That hot mustard you love at the Chinese restaurant near work? Nothing but ‘Oriental’ mustard powder mixed with water: you could make it at home in the blink of an eye.
Homemade Dijon mustard is not much more effort: wine is infused with some onion and garlic for flavor, then whisked with mustard powder and boiled until thick. Pop it in the fridge and in under 30 minutes you’ve got a fancy French mustard, better than most anything you can buy, for only a couple of bucks. No wonder everyone is so impressed by homemade mustard.
Mustard-making at home is comprised of two basic techniques: 1) combining ground mustard powder with liquid for a smooth, thin mustard, that usually has a more subtle flavor (white wine, fresh herbs, and floral infusions are good here); and 2) soaking whole mustard seed in liquid, then puréeing in a food processor for a hearty, grainy mustard (strong flavors shine here, whether it is acidic fruit, a favorite liquor or spicy chiles).
Mustard, both whole seeds and ground, can be expensive at the grocery store, but is quite economical at Penzeys and other spice merchants. And once you have the mustard on hand, the world is your oyster (or pretzel, or sausage, as the case may be). For mustards destined to go straight to the fridge, flavor options are limited only by your imagination: most mustards contain either vinegar or some form of alcohol and as such are acidic enough, even with added herbs or vegetables, for long-term refrigerator storage.
To can mustards for shelf-stable storage, we must, as in all other canning, take into account canning safety: for processing in a boiling water bath, it is best to rely on trusted recipes, or to make substitutions that you are confident will not adversely affect the pH or density (thickness) of the final product.
The canning itself can be a little tricky, simply because the grainier mustards can be thick and viscous, and it is sometimes challenging to keep the mustard boiling hot while filling the last jars. If you’ve ever made a fruit butter, you’ll know what I mean; just make sure to be diligent in bubbling your jars, leave yourself a generous headspace, and do your best to make sure the mustard is piping hot when it goes into your jars in order to prevent siphoning during processing.
Personally? I hate mustard. Loathe it, actually; so the hardest part of mustard making for me is the “adjust to taste” part (because, well, ew). Luckily, my husband, a certified mustardophile, is happy to step into the role of taste tester. And as my mustards have developed quite a following among friends & family, I make a lot of mustard. After the jump, I offer up two basic recipes: a classic Dijon and a sweet & boozy Bourbon Brown Sugar. If you, or someone you love, is a mustard fan, you owe it to yourself to give this a try: you (like me) may never buy mustard again!