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Friday, May 13, 2011

On Mustard for Picnicking (part Two of Two)

Welcome back, true believers! Today, I shall finish up my discussion of the foods served at the picnic for Grand Ledge Victorian Day.
This was our crew, a fine and gallant bunch. To accompany our luncheon dish of cold roasted chicken, I created a thyme-infused Dijon-style mustard. The recipe came out of a fusion of new and old recipes, as well as basic flavoring techniques.

The mustard was a smash hit at the picnic, winning commendations from the picnickers and visiting soldiers alike (our blankets are a neutral zone where Union and Rebel may eat together in peace and harmony. And booze.)

As is my habit, however, I shall herein discuss a little bit about the creation of mustard over the Steampunk era, and present a few recipes from my collection of cook books.

Mustard, or more properly "Prepared Mustard" is really quite simple. Powdered mustard seeds are combined with a small amount of liquid, just enough to make a smooth paste, and allowed to sit to develop a hot, pungent flavor and characteristic aroma. Its history is long—the name itself comes from Romans making mustum ardens, or "hot must," referring to the original liquid—must, unfermented grape juice with stems and peels included.

In The Good Housekeeper from 1841, the recipe to prepare mustard is given as follows:
Mustard is best when freshly made. Mix by degrees the best ground mustard and a little fine salt with warm water; rub these a long time till perfectly smooth.
Mild mustard.—Mix as above, but use milk instead of water, and sugar instead of salt.
Ignore the curry powder, that's for another thing. Yeah.
The box of ground mustard that I purchased for this endeavor says,
To make up Colman's Powder Mustard to serve as a simple condiment with food, only cold water should be used. Mix with equal quantity of water and allow ten minutes standing time to allow the full flavor to develop.
The water acts as a catalyst that helps yield the essential oil of mustard which produces that unmistakable taste.
The strength of flavor diminishes with time so we recommend that you make your mustard fresh each time.
In Buckeye Cookery, two recipes are given:

Boil one pint vinegar, stir in a quarter pound mustard while hot, add two table-spoons sugar, tea-spoon salt, and one of white pepper; let the mixture boil.
--Mrs. Olivia S. Hinman, Battle Creek, Mich.


Take three tea-spoons ground mustard, one of flour (two if the mustard seems very strong), half tea-spoon of sugar; pour boiling water on these and mix into a smooth, thick paste; when cold add vinegar enough to make ready for use, and serve with salt. This resembles the French Mustard.
--Mrs. Mary Herbert Huntington.
Mustard powder,
onion and garlic powders,
and white vinegar.

The "French Mustard" to which Mrs. Huntington refers is now known world-wide as Dijon Mustard, and in truth the recipe for it does not resemble Mrs. Huntington's recipe in anything more than the most cursory way. True Dijon Mustard is made with dry white wine and/or red wine, as well as some honey, garlic, and onions to contribute to a richer flavor in the mustard.

A modern recipe for simple mustard is presented in my Garde Manger cookbook:
Heywood's Mustard
4 1/2 oz (128 g) dry mustard
1 oz (28 g) sugar
2 tsp (6 g) salt
12 oz (340 g) eggs
16 fluid oz (480 ml) malt vinegar
1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) Tabasco sauce
3 oz (85 g) honey

1. Combine the mustard, sugar, and salt.
2. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.
3. Whisk in the vinegar, Tabasco, and honey. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
4. Beat in a double boiler over hot water until thick and creamy. Cover and refrigerate until cool.
5. Transfer to a clean storage container, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: 1 quart or 960 ml.
Very similar to the recipes from the Steampunk era, with the addition of eggs to speed the thickening process and add richness of flavor and mouthfeel.

My recipe for a Thyme-Dijon mustard is as follows:
Allowing the thyme
to infuse in the wine.
Thyme-Dijon Mustard
2 oz (57 g) dry mustard
6 fl oz (177 ml) dry white wine
1 tsp (3 g) salt
1 oz (28 g) honey
1 fl oz (30 ml) white wine vinegar
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) garlic powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) onion powder
6 oz (170 g) eggs, well beaten (about 3 large eggs)

Mixing the mustard
over a double boiler.
1. Combine the wine, salt, honey, and thyme in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 15-20 minutes. Cool, and strain to remove the thyme.

2. Mix the onion and garlic powders with the ground mustard.

3. Combine the wine mixture with the dry ingredients, and add the vinegar. Mix well until smooth.

4. Add the eggs and warm over a double boiler (medium-high heat,) cooking until smooth and creamy. Bottle and mature overnight.

Yield: roughly 1 pint/473 ml


  1. This recipe sounds amazing. I'm going to pick up the ingredients over the weekend and make it this week.

  2. I shall suggest the Colman's mustard powder which comes in smaller packages than 1 pound. I believe there's a 4 oz or so package commonly available.

  3. This mustard was smack your mother good... spicy as hell, but tasty.


Your opinions and comments always are welcomed, but do be civil... this isn't a kitchen, after all.