Mustard – From Spicy Hot To Mild
Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae family also known as the cabbage family. There are three types used in cooking, black, brown, and yellow or white. The seeds of these different types give off little discernable aroma even in its ground form, the aroma is released through an enzyme in the seeds called myrosinase when the seeds come in contact with liquids, this is what creates the hot, pungent taste that is typical of the herb. Not all mustards are hot and they range from the sharp, irritating, biting hot, making the eyes water and clearing the sinuses, to the mild types that is tangy and pleasing to the palate.
The white variety originated in the Mediterranean with pale yellow to gold seeds. The black variety originated in Asia Minor has dark brown seeds, and the brown variety originated in the Himalayas and has larger seeds.
The herb is one of the oldest known herbs and has been used since earliest recorded history for its medicinal properties as well as culinary uses. The herb is even referred to in the Bible as being among the greatest of herbs. The herb was used among the Greeks and Romans, by the French and was considered an important spice in Central Europe.
The yellow variety of the seeds are the most readily available, whole black seeds are rare and as a result they have been replaced by brown seeds in production and it is often difficult to tell the black and brown variety of the seeds apart.
There are quite a few varieties of mustard generally found in prepared form, jars with a separation of the spice and the vinegar that it is prepared in should be avoided, because this indicates that the preparation is too old. The prepared spice lasts longer when stored in the refrigerator.
The whole seeds are stable but must be kept dry, since the herb absorbs moisture quite well.
The yellow seeds are used mostly for the prepared concoction and for pickling spices. The dark brown seeds are used in Indian cooking, and the brown seeds are used In Europe for the prepared concoction.
The seeds have also been used for medicinal purposes as a stimulant, diuretic and for general muscle relief.
For additional information about mustard click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
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