The Romans were the first to transform mustard into a condiment. Mixing ground seeds with unfermented grape juice, called "must", they produced "fiery must" or mustum ardens. Hence our word "mustard".
The sheer number of today's brands, whether mainstream or "farmer's market", would have stopped a Roman in his tracks.
Heat, flavour and appearance depend on the colour of the seeds (white-yellow, brown or black), how they are processed (whole, ground or cracked) and the choice of additional ingredients (water, lemon juice, vinegar, verjuice, wine, must, herbs, honey and so on).
Wholegrain styles are the mildest and Dijon styles the strongest; the hottest of all is Colman's English- style, either prepared or in powder form. Yet mustard is so much more than a pick-me-up for cold meats and hot dogs. Add your favourite style to dressings, glazes, marinades, mayos and sauces and wait for the compliments.
Meanwhile, here are some mustardy ideas for glazing your summer hams and dressing summer salads; with the latter, taste after whisking and adjust seasoning as necessary. Enjoy!
Mix juice and zest of 2 oranges with 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
Melt 2 cups cranberry jelly and add 1 1/2 Tbsp wholegrain mustard.
Mix 2 cups maple syrup and 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard.
Mix 1 cup brown sugar with 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice and 1 tsp Colman's mustard powder.
TANGY SALAD DRESSINGS
Combine 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard, a grind or two of black pepper and a generous pinch of salt in a bowl or jar and whisk or shake until emulsified.
Combine 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, juice 1 lime, 2 tsp mild or honey mustard and a pinch of salt in a bowl or jar and whisk or shake until emulsified.
Combine 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt in a bowl or jar and whisk or shake until emulsified.
Whisk 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup whole-egg mayonnaise, 2-3 Tbsp wine vinegar and 1 tsp mustard until combined. Especially good with potato or chicken salad.
- The Southland Times