Mustard is without a doubt the healthiest seasoning and it is easy to grow! The diversity and hardiness of these plants make them great choices for farmers of all levels of experience. They bloom happily and some stems give seeds in as little as 60 days, plus mustard vegetables are a nutritious bonus ingredient throughout the growing cycle. Later to reach maturity, mustard plants will soak up a lot of seeds, ensuring continuity while providing more than enough to create tasty sauces.
If you are wondering if growing and making your mustard is worth the effort it is. A can of mustard can go for five to ten dollars, as of this writing. The value of mustard seeds for a dollar can give you more mustard than can fill your coffee rack, plus green vegetables for salads and sautés.
The mustard plant is resilient and will grow in almost any type of soil. It is also resistant to many of the common pests and plant diseases. Although it can choose, mustard rich, well-prepared soil with a pH value above 6.0. It will do best in terms of constant humidity and will thrive in cool weather at about 45 degrees Fahrenheit. If these optimal conditions are given, the plant should germinate between the fifth and tenth day after sowing. In colder weather, the seeds take longer to germinate.
Within a month after germination, the mustard plant will have developed and grown a fully mature variety screen – this quality makes mustard a good cover crop.
Five to ten days later it starts to grow. The flowering period often takes between one and two weeks, but sometimes it can take longer. In the following weeks, pods begin to develop from the flowers. When the seeds have turned green to brown or tan, the seeds will have reached maturity.
The seeds must be harvested before they become too brittle, otherwise the pods will bulge and seeds will spread to places where they are not welcome. Researchers seem to agree that the optimal moisture content for storing mustard seeds is 10 percent. If the seeds contain too much moisture, they will probably be spoiled in storage.
An easy way to ensure that this does not happen is to check if the seeds are moist or pulp before placing them in storage. If they are, they must be dried first. They can be placed on a fine mesh screen. As an alternative, the entire plant can be cut down and covered with a bag before it is hung upside down. When the seeds dry, they will fall harmlessly into the bag. The drying process usually takes about two weeks.
Once you have grown, harvested and dried your mustard seeds, the next step is to prepare and flavor your mustard to your desired taste. It is quite easy to do and all that is required besides your mustard seeds is cold water. The mustard seeds must be ground to a fine powder to release their spice.
How to process mustard seeds at home
For this, a shock and mortar would be most appropriate. But if they are not available, there is a simpler and less powerful method. The seeds should be soaked in cold water for one or two days. They become soft and visibly swollen.
Once they are nice and goopy, put them in a food processor without separating the seeds from the water. Use a low or pulse setting to whip it into coarse mustard. If you want a smoother structure on your mustard, you can run it through a fine sieve to achieve the desired result.
Add flavor to your mustard
After a few days, homemade mustard begins to lose its kick. To prevent this, an acid is added. Vinegar is most often used, although lemon juice and cider are also relatively common. This allows the mustard to retain its flavor indefinitely if stored properly. Salt can be added to accentuate the taste and to further preserve the mustard.
Other herbs and spices can be added in line with your taste and preferences. People with a sweet tooth often add honey to their mustard while tarragon is also highly recommended. Others add wine or beer. In short, you can rarely go wrong with mustard and the best thing is to keep trying different flavors to see which ones you like best.
It is advisable to let your homemade mustard stand for a few days before using it as the taste tends to get stronger over time. Although mustard has a relatively long shelf life, it will be stored in the refrigerator to extend it and ensure that you get to enjoy your homemade creation longer.