In the garden I have been doing a lot with mustard. It makes a fabulous cover crop at the end of the season. My mustard seed pack claims to “aid in the natural control of wireworm, nematodes, etc which are a problem often associated with root crops. Mustard also reduces the chance of any soil borne diseases with 40 days of digging in.” It also warns that if you have a problem with club root you shouldn’t use a mustard cover crop before brassicas, as these plants are in the same family.
I have also read that it helps to take care of any fungal problems in the soil. The bees also love the cheery yellow flowers. You are really supposed to dig it in before the flowers, but they are so lovely and it is great to see an entire garden bed humming with the sound of bees, so I kind of deviate from the rules a little. Having said that I’m not a great one for following instructions.
So it would seem mustard is a magical wonder crop. But at the end of the day I don’t like to leave my garden beds bare over the winter and it makes me feel like I’m gardening when little else is growing. The fact I am improving my soil is a magnificent plus.
I’ve been sprinkling the stuff about by the handful, and each time I looked at the contents in the palm of my hand, the thought “hmmm I wonder???” got louder and stronger to the point that I stopped what I was doing and came inside to check out the great big internet. Surely it is possible to make mustard sauce. If it is made commercially then surely I can make it at home. How hard can it be?
Well I got a pleasant surprise. It is so simple I wondered why I haven’t been making it already. So I reached into my spice cupboard and grabbed my box of mustard seeds. This is where the story gets a little vague. There was just about enough culinary mustard seed, but not quite. I ummed and erred for a while about what to do. Is seed for seed the same as seed for cooking? I looked longingly at the very large bag of seed seed to top up my measuring jug. The bag did say ‘top quality disease free’ so I could assume it was completely natural too with no horticultural aids to assist germination… Or I could rush to the shops and buy more cooking seeds. I won’t say exactly what I did, as I don’t want to freak out those who will eat the mustard. But if you come to my house for hot dogs and then find yourself nematode free, don’t be too surprised.
So here is what I did:
Into a non-metallic bowl, I measured my half a cup of yellow mustard seeds from an unspecified source, a cup of plain, ordinary water and 100ml of white vinegar and covered it and left it overnight to soak.
The following morning it was already smelling like the mustard I would recognise from my squeezy bottle. I lobbed it all into my blender and whizzed it all up until it was a thick paste. Then I poured it out into a pot.
To the pot I added a small crushed clove of garlic, a pinch of paprika, half a teaspoon of salt and to give it its bright yellow colour a teaspoon of turmeric. The whole lot was mixed in and brought to the boil. The instructions said stir constantly and I found to my detriment that this is because it will spit boiling hot splotches at you and cover your kitchen in yellow spots. So keep stirring – don’t stop, not even to take a photo!
Once it comes to the boil, turn it down to a simmer for a few more minutes. Then put it in a sterile jar or squeezy bottle and store in the fridge. And that is it. I told you it was easy.
Now my mind is racing with possible alternatives – changing the vinegar, maybe an apple cider vinegar; changing the spices – ohh my spicy chipotle would be awesome in there; more garlic; holding back some of the whole mustard seeds from the blender to make a whole grain mustard. The possibilities are endless. We shall never buy mustard again!
Come again soon – we are off on another cool adventure this weekend and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Sarah the Gardener : o )