Second only to ketchup in popularity
Next to ketchup, mustard is another quintessential American condiment. Mustard and ketchup even go well together, especially on your juicy burgers, cold meats, barbeques and most especially hotdogs. Would you like to know a little bit more information, as well as its history? Then read on.
General preparation of the mustard
No matter where in the world you go, basically all preparations of the mustard sauce are virtually the same. After harvesting the seeds, you crush them in order to separate their bran from the hull, in most cases. Depending on what type of mustard condiment you want, you may or may not continue to completely crush and grind them. Then you add some water, vinegar, or other liquids as well as an assortment of spices; some mustard preparations require heat for simmering. If the mustard is simmered, it is then cooled and then stored in jars or bottles. Some people let the mustard age for a bit longer in large vats and containers to enhance its flavor.
Mustard is a plant which belongs to the Brassica family of plants which also includes cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
From medicine to food stuff
Long ago, mustard was used for medicinal purposes rather than for food. Historical records show that Greek scientist Pythagoras applied mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. Ancient people praised the medicinal benefits of mustard; it was used as a poultice for wounds and other inflammations on the body.
For a time the mustard paste wasn’t widely used yet as a condiment in either Greece or Rome. The Romans introduced the mustard seed to what is known as France today. The French monks at St. Germain des Pres in Paris were among the first ones to prepare mustard sauce, and eventually France had adapted to the preparation as well as consumption of it.
Mustard had grown to be a commodity in France by the 13th century, mostly sold in containers by vendors who peddled their sauces in Paris. Mustard preparation became such a successful business that regulations were imposed on mustard manufacturers, requiring them to use clean utensils and equipment for the preparation.
Origins of the now-famous Dijon mustard
Mustard fell out of favor during the early 18th century due in part to the arrival of new spices from other countries, especially those from the Far East. The French city of Dijon was responsible for reviving the mustard market when one of its residents named Jean Naigeon substituted verjuice (a sour juice extracted from some unripe fruits such as grapes) for vinegar as a souring agent of the mustard. The use of verjuice resulted in a less acidic-tasting mustard sauce which was more agreeable and smooth to the palate. And the world-famous Dijon mustard was born in 1856.
Mustard’s popularity in England and the United States
In England, the earliest-known evidence to indicate mustard as a condiment is supported by the book The Forme of Cury which was written by King Richard II’s master cooks. The mustard paste was prepared in the form of mustard balls (made with flour and cinnamon) for the purpose of giving them a longer shelf life.
Mustard had gone on to also flourish in England, and such companies as Keen & Sons (established in 1747) led the mustard production. But a flour miller named Jeremiah Colman made mustard a national phenomenon by building several expansions that were devoted to the manufacture of mustard paste.
In the United States, manufacturer R. T. French Company (now called French’s) was one of the first mustard condiment manufacturers. The company (which was started by brothers Robert and George French as a flour mill) introduced the use of mustard as a hotdog condiment at a St. Louis World Fair in 1904. The company called it “cream salad mustard,” which became the creamy yellow mustard. It was a hit, and soon became a mainstay in American cuisine. French’s, with its trademark red pennant logo, is one of the leading mustard condiment manufacturers in the US.
We hope you’ve learned a little bit more about the mustard, whose information and past as well as present glory are as rich as the condiment itself.