July 04th 2018
If you saw the word ‘senvy’, would you think someone misspelt ‘envy’? This word processing program does! However, all you historical botanists out there will recognize it as the original name for the mustard plant. The name was eventually changed to match that of the paste made from its seeds and unfermented wine, or ‘must’.
Let’s take a close look at this spicy plant that’s native to the Indian Subcontinent (but now harvested in Canada more than anywhere in the world!) and its many culinary uses. We’ll even uncover a surprising Shakespearean recipe connection!
The documented use of mustard for culinary purposes stretches back more than 5000 years. From ancient Sumeria to modern Saskatchewan, the mustard plant has come a long way; though native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean, more than a quarter of the world’s mustard is grown in Canada. If you’ve ever driven through the prairies in the summertime, you’ve probably seen the huge, yellow fields stretching to the horizon.
Brassica hirta Moench, better known (and more easily pronounced!) as white mustard, has many uses. From ground cover to biodiesel source, mustard is a versatile crop. Of course, we love it because of the seeds and all the delicious things you can do with them!
White mustard is one of three commonly used mustard varieties, along with black mustard, and brown mustard. There’s no aroma to the seed, but take one bite and your mouth will be filled with zesty flavour.
Squeezing flavour and profit from a flower
Ground down into a powder, it becomes the base for one of the myriads of prepared mustard varieties so popular at picnics, barbecues, and restaurants. How popular is prepared mustard? Canadians spent nearly $70M on the condiment in 2016. That’s only slightly behind barbecue sauce and more than chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, seafood sauce, horseradish sauce, tartar sauce, and chutney combined.
But there’s more to mustard than just mustard, if you catch our meaning. The seeds are also an integral part of pickling, giving pickles a little bite – or a lot, if you use enough. They also add tang to other sauces and dry rubs.
Ay, there’s the rub!
Speaking of rubs, we did promise to reveal a Shakespearean connection. In the play Macbeth, three witches famously brew a potion full of bizarre-sounding ingredients, including, “eye of newt.” Though it seems as if surgery on an amphibian would be required, “eye of newt” is actually an old name for mustard seed! Perhaps they were simply making a marinade for that night’s mutton dinner?
If witches brews aren’t your business, there’s still plenty of ways you can use premium mustard seeds in your product. Toasting them brings out a hidden nuttiness that adds wonderful depth to a vinaigrette, or to a premade seasoning blend for topping fish and rice dishes. And if you’re doing Indian cuisine, mustard seeds are a must. (Not the unfermented wine kind of ‘must’!)
Mustard = Flavour + Function
It seems like it’s not enough for a seasoning or spice to just taste good anymore. Worldwide, the functional food market is expected to reach a value of $160B this year, with North America accounting for $44B. Expect to see growth in this category as boomers strive for longevity, and millennials focus on holistic wellness.
Mustard seed is a good source of selenium, and also contains omega-3, vitamin B1, and an assortment of other minerals. This makes it a perfect ingredient for wellness-forward flavour solutions.
It might be an ingredient as old as cooking, but we’ve seen mustard seed in some very hip new ways. While we’re not so sure about the ketchup cake with mustard icing that went viral, we’re a big fan of mustard ice cream, and the cocktail possibilities of mustard-infused gin and vodka are very exciting!
From traditional to trendy, mustard seed can enhance nearly any product with its unmistakable flavour. To kickstart your mustard makeover, fill out our online form for more information and to try a free sample.