Prepared mustard is a standard in many salad dressing, marinade and sandwich recipes. It’s a ubiquitous condiment that consists of ground or whole mustard seeds, liquid and possibly other spices and additions to vary the flavor. Prepared mustard comes in hundreds of varieties, and you can even quickly whip up a version with items you likely have in your own pantry.

The yellow mustard squeezed over the hot dog at your local ball park, honey mustard mixed into a salmon marinade and grainy German mustard served with cold cuts are all variations of prepared mustard. What makes each mustard individual is the type of seeds selected and the liquids and spices added. Some of the most common types of mustard available include:

Mustard’s spice varies according to the seed used, the amount of seed in the mix and the other ingredients. The burn of mustard is a result of enzymes in the seeds that break down when the seed is crushed. This defends mustard plants from bugs, but when mixed with liquid, provides prepared mustard with its hallmark zing that pleases the palate.

The type of liquid used to make the prepared mustard affects the intensity of the heat as well. Vinegar creates a mustard that offers a long finish of heat on the palate and that has staying power in the refrigerator. Mustards with water bases are sharp and hot to the tongue, but the heat doesn’t stay as intense for long storage times — even in the refrigerator.

To create a homemade mustard, first choose your seeds: hot black, medium brown or mildest yellow. Soak the seeds in cold water or another liquid, at least overnight or longer, to soften them. Then grind in a high speed blender with your ingredients of choice. A little white wine vinegar and salt make a classic blend, but experiment with adding honey, brown sugar, pickle juice, wine or anything else you might find appealing in a spread.

The mustard’s flavor will mature over time, so taste it regularly and add more acid or spice as you desire. Homemade mustard can keep for weeks in the refrigerator, but to be safe, use it within approximately a month.