Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

If you are anything like me you might remember being a kid and having a hot dog with ketchup and mustard. I remember that when I would lick the excess off my finger it would always make me drool, or should I say salivate. That's because mustard seeds have a spicy and pungent flavour known to stimulate the appetite and can increase salivation by as much as eight times. When we look at digestion the more saliva the better, especially in terms of digestive enzymes. They help to promote digestion because of the flow of much-needed enzymes and neutralize toxins which prevents indigestion and bloating. Avoiding that dreaded "bloat" is much appreciated when wearing that tight little black dress.

Mustard seeds are known as a medicinal spice and has used therapeutically for thousands of years. The seeds are rich in antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, K, E, B-complex, calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. They are also high in essential fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6, and oleic acid.

Have high blood pressure? They are great for lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol, oh and speeding up the metabolism, and helping reduce the frequency of migraines.

In some studies Mustard seed has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and specific types of cancer. Unfortunately much more research is needed with regards to cancer research...

Mustard seeds have a powerful  anti-fungal and anti-septic properties which makes them good for cleansing the digestive tract and detoxifying the body. They are one of the best treatments for skin diseases as its rids the blood of excess impurities and slows the activities of the sebaceous glands which throw off cellular debris. Mustard seed powder works exceptionally well in the bath as it increases the blood flow to the skin and removes toxins from the body. People who take Epsom salt baths like to add a little baking soda and those who know about it even throw some of mustard powder in. 
SO how do I use them? Much like adding turmeric, I add mustard seeds (in ground power form) to many dishes. The seeds can be used whole, ground, or powdered in soups, sandwiches, potato, vegetable, and wild rice dishes. I've even added them to my hummus, I add lots of stuff to my hummus. If you love prepared mustard, consider making it fresh at home by grinding/crushing mustard seeds and mixing with some apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and spices of choice like turmeric. Raw honey can also be added for additional flavour and health benefits. Don't want to make your own? You can find the powder at most health food stores, make sure you get a high quality source. 

So lets talk spice, the level of heat or the spiciness of the seeds is dependant on a few factors. Yellow mustard seeds (also called white) are the mildest, while brown and black seeds much hotter and more pungent.

That said, the liquid used to moisten those seeds and bind the mustard also plays a role.  Dried mustard seeds or powders aren’t really photon their own, but when combined with water the natural enzymes in the seed work to liberate the compounds creating a pungency or heat. Another factor is the acidity of the liquid used. The more acidic the liquid, the slower this reaction will take place, and the longer the final heat will last. Mustards made with vinegar will have a long-lasting, slow burn, while those made with less acidic liquids like pure water, will be extremely pungent when freshly prepared, but lose that punch more quickly.

The temperature of the water can also affect heat level—hot water will deactivate mustard enzymes and break down some of the pungent compounds, while cold water will keep them all intact. The mildest mustards with the longest shelf life are made with yellow mustard seeds and plenty of vinegar, while the hottest mustards are made with black or brown mustard seeds and cold water so keep this in mind when making your own. 

Some things to keep in mind when making your own. A byproduct of breaking the mustard seed is bitterness,this can be quite unpleasant for some. Fortunately this takes only a few days to go away so sit it aside and wait. Keeping mustard I’m the fridge doesn’t do it any favours either in terms of potency. 

Yellow mustard seeds are traditionally mixed with vinegar and honey, whereas bro mustard seeds will have more of a spicy kick and are mixed with less vinegar and the bran is left on the seed. I like to mix the brown variety with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to give it a slightly earthy undertone. 

Want a more aesthetically pleasing mustard, try making whole grain mustard. You find the mustard seeds just enough to form a bit of a paste. You would add in white wine instead of the higher acidic vinegar (same process is for dijon) You will want to use brown or black seeds for this one. Keep in mind it will pack a punch!

Want to add a little something extra? Substitute the white wine for beer, this would be… you guessed it, a beer mustard. Stouts like guinness work extremely well for the flavour compliment.

I’ve even seen people use spirits, although for this you wold want to add vinegar along side the alcohol. Whiskey or bourbon give a nice taste. It’s a great substitute for dips.

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