Mustard, a well-known condiment culled from the seeds of the mustard plant, adds a familiar spicy sweetness to salad dressings, sandwiches, roasts and sauces. Its flavor varies depending on the type of mustard seed and the spices used. Coarse-ground mustard, also known as stone-ground mustard, offers a milder flavor with a textured consistency. In the kitchen, other types of mustard can be substituted in a pinch.
You can make your own coarse-ground mustard if you happen to have white or brown mustard seeds on hand. Mix them with equal parts apple cider vinegar, a clove of garlic, a bit of honey and a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Add water until you reach your desired consistency. Refrigerate for a day and a half, then remove the garlic and purée the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
Dijon or Brown Mustard
If you don't have mustard seeds, or you need something quicker, the second best choice is Dijon mustard. It's smoother and more tart than coarse-ground because of the addition of wine vinegar during processing. Add Dijon mustard to taste and use more sparingly than the recipe calls for. Sugar or honey may need to be added to counter the sharpness.
Mustard powder works, with some modifications. It consists of brown and white mustard seeds that are dried and then pulverized into a powder. One teaspoon of dried mustard is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of prepared mustard. Add cold water to liquefy, if needed, along with garlic powder, sugar or honey, and a small amount of vinegar to taste.
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In a pinch, grab that yellow mustard that you normally reserve for hot dogs, deviled eggs and potato salad. The signature electric-yellow color is from turmeric, and a high vinegar content adds tartness. This should be used as a last resort, and sparingly, as it changes both the flavor and color of a recipe.
Jessica Brower is pursuing a B.A. in English and literature with The Evergreen State College. Writing since 1999, she has been published in various community publications. Brower's essays were published in "Beyond Parallax," the literary journal of Centralia College, which she also co-edited.