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french honey mustard

I harvested several cups of mustard seed this week.  Some will go for microgreens. Some will be stored as seed for curries and stews,  and saag and pickles.  And some I make into mustard as a condiment, for sandwiches and dressings and marinades, either the Seeded Mustard  recipe of a couple of years ago, or this one  (that I seem, these days, to be preferring).

Home making mustard is ridiculously easy, and worth it because mustard – Brassica juncea- is a member of the brassica family, closely related to canola – Brassica napus.  It is prone to all the fairly wide range of pests and diseases of that family, and because it is grown in the same areas and conditions as canola, subject to all the same consequences of overpopulation of any one species –  which means they commercially get a good deal of chemical protection.

Mustard is such a superfood even in the small quantities you would eat as a condiment, with such a wide range of minerals and phytonutrients and antioxidents a that it would be a great pity to undo all that with a bit of residual dimethoate. In my garden it grows wild over winter needing no protection at all, seeds prolifically, is dead easy to harvest, and making mustard takes all of 10 minutes.

The Recipe

This is a hot and spicy, slightly sweet, semi smooth mustard for spreading on bread or using in dressings and marinades. Brown mustard seed is hotter that yellow mustard seed, so if you want a milder mustard, go for a mixture of brown and yellow seed.

The recipe makes one jar like the one in the picture – about a cup full of finished mustard.  The recipe scales up fine. I make a few jars for us and a few to give away.

  • In a glass bowl, soak ½ cup of mustard seeds in ¾ cup of vinegar-alcohol mix for 24 hours.  You can use pretty well any kind of vinegar and any kind of alcohol in just about any ratio.  They all give you something a bit different.  For this batch I used ½ cup of malt vinegar and ¼ cup of rice wine.  But I have also used cider vinegar and white wine vinegar and brown vinegar as the vinegar, and I’ve used home brew beer and white wine and cider as the alcohol. The seeds should soak up pretty well all the liquid.
  • Put a clean jar or jars on to sterilize.  I usually use my pressure cooker, steaming them under pressure for 10 minutes.  But you can also just boil them for 20 minutes.
  • Use a stick blender to blend the soaked seeds with a good heaped dessertspoon of honey and a good pinch of salt.  You won’t get it perfectly smooth, but you should be able to get it semi-smooth. Taste – it will taste very hot and a bit bitter, but you should be able to tell whether it is sweet and/or salty enough for you.
  • Bottle the blended mustard in the jars and put them in the fridge to mature.  Leave for at least a week, better several weeks, for the flavour to mellow and the bitterness to disappear. If you can. I couldn’t resist trying some on a sandwich straight away and though it was a bit raw it was still good.

mustard sandwich

Mustard is a potent antibiotic all in its own right, and mixed with honey and salt and vinegar, it will last just about indefinitely in the fridge.

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Indian green mango pickles

It’s going to be a good mango year.  We are already eating the first of the ripe ones, but we have five trees loaded, mostly still green.  The possums and parrots will get a lot of them, but there will still be more than we can eat.  The neighbours all have mangoes too, so there’s a limit to the number can be given away.

But just having a glut isn’t enough incentive for me to make preserves on its own.  It takes a bit of work, and energy, and salt/vinegar/sugar/oil to make preserves, none of which I really need more of!  This recipe is frugal on the work and energy, but really it’s not for the sake of keeping mangoes I make pickles.  It’s for the sake of a condiment, a little bit of flavour sparkle to go with curries or dhal, or on crackers with cheese. Just a little spoonful of a really good Indian pickle can make a very plain lentils and rice dish seem like a feast.

This is an Indian type, oil based pickle, with a fair amount of spiciness.

The Recipe:

One Day Before Bottling Day:

You need 12 cups of diced green mango, skin on. Choose mangoes that are full size but still hard. Mine at this stage yield a cup per mango.

Layer the diced mango in a large jar or bowl or crock with a scant teaspoon per mango of salt (ie, 12 scant teaspoons, or about 3 tablespoons of salt).

Leave the jar out in the sun for the day.

salted green mango On Bottling Day:

Put some jars and their lids on to boil for 10 minutes or pressure cook for 5 minutes to sterilize them. You can use any kind of jar with a lid that pops as you open it. Nearly any kind of jar with a metal lid from the supermarket these days is this kind. Salt and vinegar and oil do the preserving in pickles, so in the olden days they wouldn’t even have required an airtight seal, but since these jars are so easily available, you might as well make use of them.

Drain the diced mango well, then put it in a big pot with:

  • 2 cups of olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons of hot chili powder, or 3 dried hot chilis crushed (more if your chilis are milder).
  • 6 teaspoons of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of nigella or onion seeds
  • 4 teaspoons of fennel or fenugreek seeds (or half and half of each)
  • 4 teaspoons of grated fresh turmeric, or a couple of heaped teaspoons of powder
  • 4 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger, or a couple of heaped teaspoons of powder
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a good grating of black pepper

Bring up to the boil then simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Ladle the hot pickles into hot jars. (If the jars are not hot, they’ll crack). Make sure there is a centimetre or so of oil covering them, then wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth and screw on the lids.

As the jars cool, you will see and hear the lids pop in, creating a concave top and a seal.

Leave at least a week or so before eating.  They get better with time, and sealed jars last a long time in a cool dry spot. Once a jar is opened, it’s best stored in the fridge.

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Back in May I raided the spice rack and propagated a few brown mustard seeds, just from a packet of seeds from the supermarket.

It’s hard to plant just one of something!   You can eat a few young mustard leaves in salads and stir fries, but most of the harvest is in the seeds, and one mustard plant, one of those tiny little seeds, will grow over a metre tall, dominate most of a square metre of space, and yield enough mustard seed to keep us going all year. I still have another five or six plants in the garden.  This mustard recipe is good, maybe even good enough that  I will still have enthusiasm for processing it by the time the last one is ready for harvest!

The Recipe:

Wait until the seeds are fully mature and the seed pods going yellow, then cut the whole plant off at the base. Hang it upside down with the head in a paper bag in a sunny spot for a week or so. The seed pods should go brittle and easy to crush.

Tip the seeds into a baking tray and blow gently to winnow out the pods.

Mix together and allow to soak overnight:

  • a third of a cup of brown mustard seed
  • a dessertspoon of black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

The next day, strain the seeds and lightly crush them in a mortar and pestle.  Put the lightly crushed seeds along with all the liquid you soaked them in in a food processor with:

  • a small handful of fresh thyme leaves and
  • 2-3 dessertspoons of lemon juice.

Blend until it goes creamy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  It will taste quite sharp – it needs to mature a bit to develop the taste – but you should be able to decide if it needs more salt, sugar or lemon juice.

It will last several months in the fridge and will get better as the flavour mellows and matures.  Great on a cheese and tomato sandwich, in kangaroo stroganoff, in cauliflower cheese soup.

(If you’re up for another recipe, Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blogged hers last week too – it must be mustard season!)

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