Mustard (condiment)

Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant (white/yellow mustard, Sinapis alba; brown mustard, Brassica juncea; or black mustard, Brassica nigra).

The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, vinegar, lemon juice, wine, or other liquids, salt, and often other flavorings and spices, to create a paste or sauce ranging in color from bright yellow to dark brown. The taste of mustard ranges from sweet to spicy.[1]

Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is also added to sandwiches, hamburgers, corn dogs, and hot dogs. It is also used as an ingredient in many dressings, glazes, sauces, soups, and marinades. As a cream or as individual seeds, mustard is used as a condiment in the cuisine of India and Bangladesh, the Mediterranean, northern and southeastern Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa,[2] making it one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world.[3]


The English word "mustard" derives from the Anglo-Norman mustarde and Old French mostarde (Modern French is moutarde). The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, ("must", young wine)—the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens, (hot, flaming). It was first attested in English in the late 13th century, though it was found as a surname a century earlier.[4]


Archeological excavations in the Indus Valley (Indian Subcontinent) have revealed that mustard was cultivated there. That civilization existed until about 1800 BC.[5]

The Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice (the must) with ground mustard seeds (called sinapis) to make "burning must", mustum ardens — hence "must ard".[6] A recipe for mustard appears in De re coquinaria, the anonymously compiled Roman cookbook from the late fourth or early fifth century; the recipe calls for a mixture of ground mustard, pepper, caraway, lovage, grilled coriander seeds, dill, celery, thyme, oregano, onion, honey, vinegar, fish sauce, and oil, and was intended as a glaze for spit-roasted boar.[7]

The Romans likely exported mustard seed to Gaul, and by the 10th century, monks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris absorbed the mustard-making knowledge of Romans and began their own production.[8] The first appearance of mustard makers on the royal registers in Paris dates back to 1292.[9] Dijon, France, became a recognized center for mustard making by the 13th century.[10] The popularity of mustard in Dijon is evidenced by written accounts of guests consuming 320 litres (70 imp gal) of mustard creme in a single sitting at a gala held by the Duke of Burgundy in 1336.[11] In 1877, one of the most famous Dijon mustard makers, Grey-Poupon, was established as a partnership between Maurice Grey, a mustard maker with a unique recipe containing white wine; and Auguste Poupon, his financial backer.[12] Their success was aided by the introduction of the first automatic mustard-making machine.[12] In 1937, Dijon mustard was granted an Appellation d'origine contrôlée.[8] Due to its long tradition of mustard making, Dijon is regarded as the mustard capital of the world.[10]

The early use of mustard as a condiment in England is attested from the year 1390 in the book The Forme of Cury which was written by King Richard II's master cooks. It was prepared in the form of mustard balls—coarse-ground mustard seed combined with flour and cinnamon, moistened, rolled into balls, and dried—which were easily stored and combined with vinegar or wine to make mustard paste as needed.[13] The town of Tewkesbury was well known for its high-quality mustard balls, originally made with ground mustard mixed with horseradish and dried for storage,[14] which were then exported to London and other parts of the country, and are even mentioned in William Shakespeare's play King Henry the Fourth, Part II.[15]

The use of mustard as a hot dog condiment is said to have been first seen in the US at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when the bright-yellow French's mustard was introduced by the R.T. French Company.[16]

Culinary uses

Mustard, yellow
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy276 kJ (66 kcal)
6 g
Sugars3 g
Dietary fiber3 g
3 g
4 g
MineralsQuantity %DV
48 mg
152 mg
1120 mg
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Mustard is most often used at the table as a condiment on cold and hot meats.[17] It is also used as an ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinades, and barbecue sauce. It is also a popular accompaniment to hot dogs, pretzels, and bratwurst. In the Netherlands and northern Belgium, it is commonly used to make mustard soup, which includes mustard, cream, parsley, garlic, and pieces of salted bacon. Mustard as an emulsifier can stabilize a mixture of two or more immiscible liquids, such as oil and water.[18][19][20] Added to Hollandaise sauce, mustard can inhibit curdling.[21]

Nutritional value

The amounts of various nutrients in mustard seed are to be found in the USDA National Nutrient Database.[22] As a condiment, mustard averages about 5 kcal per teaspoon.[21] Some of the many vitamins and nutrients found in mustard seeds are selenium and omega 3 fatty acid.[23]


The many varieties of prepared mustards have a wide range of strengths and flavors, depending on the variety of mustard seed and the preparation method. The basic taste and "heat" of the mustard are determined largely by seed type, preparation, and ingredients.[24][25] Preparations from the white mustard plant (Sinapis alba) have a less pungent flavor than preparations of black mustard (Brassica nigra) or brown Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). The temperature of the water and concentration of acids such as vinegar also determine the strength of a prepared mustard; hotter liquids and stronger acids denature the enzymes that make the strength-producing compounds. Thus, "hot" mustard is made with cold water, whereas using hot water produces a milder condiment, all else being equal.[26]

Mustard oil can be extracted from the chaff and meal of the seed.


The mustard plant ingredient itself has a sharp, hot, pungent flavor.

Mixing ground mustard seeds with water causes a chemical reaction between two compounds in the seed: the enzyme myrosinase and various glucosinolates such as sinigrin, myrosin, and sinalbin. The myrosinase enzyme turns the glucosinolates into various isothiocyanate compounds known generally as mustard oil. The concentrations of different glucosinolates in mustard plant varieties, and the different isothiocyanates that are produced, make different flavors and intensities.

Prepared mustard condiment may also have ingredients giving salty, sour (vinegar), and sweet flavors. Turmeric is often added to commercially prepared mustards, mainly to give them a yellow color.

Storage and shelf life

Prepared mustard is sold in glass jars, plastic bottles, or metal squeeze tubes.[28] Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration for safety; it will not grow mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria.[29] Mustard can last indefinitely without becoming inedible or harmful, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation.[29] Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar may improve dried-out mustard. Some types of prepared mustard stored for a long time may separate, which can be corrected by stirring or shaking. If stored unrefrigerated for a long time, mustard can acquire a bitter taste.[30]

When whole mustard seeds are wetted and crushed, an enzyme is activated that releases pungent sulphurous compounds; but they quickly evaporate. An acidic liquid, such as wine or vinegar, produces a longer-lasting paste.[31] However, even then prepared mustard loses its pungency over time; the loss can be slowed by keeping a sealed container (opaque or in the dark) in a cool place or refrigerator.[32]


Locations renowned for their mustard include Dijon (medium-strength) and Meaux in France; Norwich (very hot) and Tewkesbury's mustard, in England; and Düsseldorf (hot), Bautzen (medium-strength) and Bavaria in Germany. They vary in the subsidiary spices and in the preparation of the mustard seeds. The mustard husks may be ground with the seeds, or winnowed away after the initial crushing; "whole-grain mustard" retains some unground or partially ground mustard seeds. Bavarian sweet mustard contains very little acid, substituting copious amounts of sugar for preservation. The Tecuci mustard from Romania is a sweet variety very popular in Eastern Europe and is suitable for grilled meats such as mititei. Sometimes, prepared mustard is simmered to moderate its bite, and sometimes it is aged. Irish mustard is a whole-grain mustard blended with whiskey, stout (commonly Guinness), or honey. Karashi is a spicy Japanese mustard.

Home preparation

Hot table mustard may easily be prepared by the home cook by mixing "powdered mustard" (ground mustard seed, turmeric, and wheat flour) to the desired consistency with water or an acidic liquid such as wine, vinegar, or beer, and letting it stand for 10 minutes.[33] It is usually prepared immediately before a meal; mustard prepared with water, in particular, is more pungent, but deteriorates rapidly.[31]

Dijon mustard

Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon replaced the usual ingredient of vinegar with verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of unripe grapes.[34] Most mustards from Dijon today contain white wine rather than verjuice.

"Dijon mustard" is not a protected food name. While mustard factories still operate in Dijon and adjoining towns, most mustard described as "Dijon" is manufactured elsewhere. Even that produced in France is made almost exclusively from Canadian mustard seed, particularly from the province of Saskatchewan, which produces 80% of the world's mustard seed exports.[35]

English mustard

It is bright yellow in colour with a thicker consistency than the mild American mustard. The most famous brand of English mustard is Colman's, which first produced their variety in 1814 as a powder in their yellow tin. William Taylor, based in Newport Pagnell, was the first person to sell English mustard in a prepared format in 1830.[36]

French mustard

This dark brown, mild, and tangy/sweet mustard, despite its name, is not French in origin. "French" mustard is particular to the UK and was invented by Colman's in 1936. It became a popular accompaniment to steak in particular. Colman's ceased production of French mustard in 2001 after Unilever, which now own Colman's, were ordered to stop selling it by the EU, following its takeover of rival mustard-maker Amora Maille in 2000.[37] Many British supermarkets still offer their own version of French mustard.

Yellow mustard

The most commonly used mustard in the United States – and tied with Dijon in Canada – is American mustard sold as "yellow mustard" (although most prepared mustards are yellow) and commonly referred to as just "mustard". A very mild prepared mustard colored bright yellow from turmeric powder, it was supposedly introduced in 1904 by George J. French as "cream salad mustard". Yellow mustard is regularly used to top hot dogs, sandwiches, pretzels, and hamburgers. It is also an ingredient of many potato salads, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings. It is commonly referred to as "hot dog", "ball park", "American yellow", "sunshine", or "prepared" mustard for these applications. In Austria, it is called Amerikanischer Senf (American mustard), and is regarded as much milder than local varieties.

Spicy brown/deli-style mustard

Spicy brown mustard is also commonly used in the United States. The seeds are coarsely ground, giving it a speckled brownish-yellow appearance. In general, it is spicier than American mustard. Some "deli-style" mustard incorporates horseradish, which actually makes it a little spicier than spicy brown. A variety popular in Louisiana is called Creole mustard. Typically, Creole mustard is much coarser than spicy brown.

Beer mustard

Beer mustard, which uses beer instead of vinegar, allegedly originated in the 20th century somewhere in the United States Midwest and has remained a popular local condiment.[38]

Whole-grain mustard

In whole-grain mustard, also known as granary mustard, the seeds are mixed whole with other ingredients. Different flavors and strengths can be achieved through different blends of mustard seed species. Groningen mustard is an example of a mustard with partially ground grains.

Honey mustard

Honey mustard, as its name suggests, is a blend of mustard and honey, typically mixed in a 1:1 ratio.[39] It is commonly used both on sandwiches and as a dip for finger foods such as chicken strips. It can also be combined with vinegar or olive oil to make a salad dressing.

Combinations of English mustard with honey or Demerara sugar are used in British cuisine to coat grilled lamb cutlets or pork chops.

Hot pepper mustard

Chili peppers of various strengths are used to make a variety of mustards more piquant than plain mustard. Peppers or hot sauce made from peppers are added to mustards of different base styles such as yellow mustard, brown mustard, or spirited mustards.

Fruit mustards

Fruit and mustard have been combined since the Lombard creation of mostarda di frutta in the 14th century.[11] Large chunks of fruit preserved in a sweet, hot mustard syrup were served with meat and game, and were said to be a favorite of the Dukes of Milan. Traditional variations of fruit mustards include apple mustard (traditional in Mantua and very hot), quince mostarda (or mostarda vicentina, mild and with a jam-like appearance), and cherry mustard. In various areas of Italy, the term mostarda refers to sweet condiments made with fruit, vegetables, and mosto, grape juice that gets simmered until syrupy.

Hot mustard

The term "hot mustard" is used for mustards prepared to bring out the natural piquancy of the mustard seeds.[27] This is enhanced by using pungent black or brown mustard seeds rather than the white mustard seeds used to make mild mustards.[27][40]

Spirited mustards

Spirited mustards are made with alcoholic spirits. Variations include Arran mustards with whisky, brandied peach mustard, cognac mustard, Irish "pub" mustard with whiskey, and Jack Daniel's mustard.[41]

Sweet mustard

Sweet mustard is from Bavaria, made from kibbled mustard seed sweetened with sugar, apple sauce, or honey. It is typically served with Weißwurst or Leberkäse. Weisswurstsenf, mustard for Weisswürste, is the most frequent name for this sweet mustard. Regional differences exist within Bavaria toward the combination of sweet mustard and Leberkäse. Other types of sweet mustards are known in Austria and Switzerland.

Notable brands and manufacturers






United Kingdom

United States

Indian subcontinent

Brown mustard is a spice that was cultivated in the Indus Valley Civilization and is one of the important spices used in the Indian subcontinent today.[42] Kasundi is a popular Bengali spicy relish of mustard. Many different kinds of kasundi are available. It is used during regular meals and with a variety of fruits and street food.


A strong mustard can make the eyes water, and sting the tongue, palate, and throat. Home-made mustards may be hotter and more intensely flavored than most commercial preparations.[43]

Any part of the mustard plant can also, rarely, cause allergic reactions in some people, including anaphylaxis. Since 2005, packaged food in the European Union must show on its label if it contains mustard.[44]

See also


  1. "Condiments Slideshow: Dress Up Food With Mustard and More". Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  2. Hazen, p. 13
  3. García-Casal, Maria Nieves; Peña-Rosas, Juan Pablo; Malavé, Heber Gómez- (2016). "Sauces, spices, and condiments: definitions, potential benefits, consumption patterns, and global markets". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1379 (1): 3–16. doi:10.1111/nyas.13045. PMID 27153401.
  4. "mustard". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. "Indus civilization". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  6. Hazen, p. 6
  7. Antol, p. 16.
  8. Hazen, p. 10
  9. Antol, p. 19
  10. Hazen, p. 10.
  11. Antol, p. 19.
  12. Antol, p. 21.
  13. Antol, pp. 21–22.
  14. "BBC Food – How English mustard almost lost its name". BBC Food. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  15. Antol, p. 22.
  16. Antol, p. 23.
  17. Park, Kun-Young; Kwon, Dae Young; Lee, Ki Won; Park, Sunmin (2018). Korean Functional Foods: Composition, Processing and Health Benefits. CRC Press. ISBN 9781351643696. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  18. "Flavor Story: Ground Mustard | McCormick". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  19. Eats, Serious. "What's the Point of a Vinaigrette? | The Food Lab". Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  20. Akis, Eric. "Ask Eric: Mustard makes magic in vinaigrette". Times Colonist. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  21. Sawyer, p. 24.
  22. USDA National Nutrient Database – Mustard Nutrition, archived from the original on 21 July 2011
  23. Mustard seeds. WHFoods. Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  24. Making the most of... Mustard, BBC, archived from the original on 28 December 2007, retrieved 3 February 2008
  25. What makes mustard hot?,, retrieved 3 February 2008
  26. See Irma S. Rombauer & Marion R. Becker, Joy of Cooking. Bobbs-Merrill, 1975, p. 583; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker, Joy of Cooking, Scribner, 1997, p. 71.
  27. Parkinson, Rhonda (9 November 2009). "Chinese Hot Mustard Dip". Retrieved 12 February 2010.
  28. "KÜHNE SENF". Germany: KÜHNE (manufacturer). 4 December 2015. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012.
  29. Sawyer, p. 11.
  30. Singh, Dueep Jyot; Davidson, John (2016). The Magic of Mustard. Mendon Cottage Books. ISBN 9781311475749. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  31. Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh (31 January 2014). "Sharp practices: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's mustard recipes". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  32. Sawyer, p. 10.
  33. "BBC: Food ingredients". Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  34. Jack E. Staub, Ellen Buchert (18 August 2008). 75 Exceptional Herbs for Your Garden. Gibbs Smith. p. 170. ISBN 9781423608776.
  35. "Great Saskatchewan Mustard Festival – 10 Years of Mustard".
  36. "Newport Pagnell Historical Society -Taylors Mustard & Mineral Works". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  37. "Unilever to ditch Colman's French Mustard brand".
  38. History Archived 16 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  39. Honey Mustard Sauce Recipe Archived 7 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (2011-01-31). Retrieved on 2011-05-27.
  40. Trowbridge, Peggy (12 February 2010). "What makes mustard hot?". Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  41. Ravindran, P. N. (2017). The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Spices. CABI. ISBN 9781780643151. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  42. "Indian spices of mustard in history and uses". Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  43. Hazen, p. 15
  44. "Mustard allergy" Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine. (2011-03-29). Retrieved on 2011-05-27.


  • Hazen, Janet. Making Your Own Gourmet Mustards. Chronicle Books, 1993 ISBN 0-8118-0173-X
  • Sawyer, Helene. Gourmet Mustards: How to Make and Cook with Them. Culinary Arts Ltd., 1990 ISBN 0-914667-15-7

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