Mustard: You may love it or you may hate it, but, regardless, you’re likely familiar with the famous yellow condiment. It is popular in America, Asia, Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean – pretty much everywhere in the world. Made from the seeds of the mustard plant, there is much more to mustard than the bright yellow sauce you put on burgers and hot dogs.
In fact, there are many different types of mustards out there and you can even make your very own homemade batch very easily. While traditional yellow mustard may be one of the most popular varieties, some other common types of mustard include honey mustard, Dijon mustard, spicy brown mustard, whole grain mustard, hot mustard, Chinese mustard, German mustard, creole mustard, and Bavarian mustard.
Whether you’re tired of the same old mustard you have in your refrigerator and want to expand your palette or you’re simply curious about what else is out there, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on 16 different types of mustard. We’ll explore each one in detail, how they’re made, and how you can make your own mustard with some basic ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen.
What is Mustard?
Dating back to early Roman kitchens, mustard is among the world’s oldest condiments. Roman cooks combined ground-up mustard seeds with must, an unfermented grape juice, to create a hot paste known as “mustum ardens”, a Latin term that translates to “burning must.” Eventually, this term was shortened to just “mustard” when the condiment made its way over to English-speaking areas of the world.
How Many Types of Mustard Seeds Are There?
There are three main types of mustard seeds that are used to make a range of mustards, ranging from mildest to strongest, these include:
- White mustard seeds
- Brown mustard, or Indian mustard
- Black mustard
Mustard seeds can be found available for purchase bruised, ground, or whole. You can also buy powdered mustard, which is a blend of ground mustard powder, some wheat flour, and turmeric. The seed itself has a very pungent, strong, and slightly bitter taste, while mustard condiments can range from sweet to spicy depending on how they’re made.
How is Mustard Made?
In its most basic form, mustard is made by combining ground-up mustard seeds with a liquid. However, the choice of liquid and type of mustard seed that is used creates the varieties of mustard available today. The heat and strong flavor of mustard comes from the enzymes that transform into mustard oil as the seed is broken. Though, when combined with a liquid, this reaction is stabilized to a particular degree, creating the perfect condiment.
The amount of heat in a type of mustard is related to the seed used, while the liquid moistens the seeds, binds the mustard, and impacts the pungency of the mustard. Once seeds or powders are combined with a liquid, the natural enzymes in the mustard produce pungent compounds.
Generally speaking, the more acidic the liquid, the slower the reaction, and the longer the final heat will persist. Therefore, mustards that are made with vinegar will have a long-lasting slow burn, while, on the other hand, those that are made with less acidic liquids (like water) will be extraordinarily pungent when fresh, but lose their punch quicker.
What Are the Different Types of Mustard?
Now that you have a better understanding of how mustard is made, let’s take a look at some of the most common types and what their individual creation process involves.
1. Yellow Mustard
Yellow mustard is the gold standard for mustards in America. The famous bright yellow color comes from the use of both finely ground yellow mustard seeds and turmeric, a powerful coloring spice. The ground mustard seeds and turmeric are mixed with water and vinegar, and sometimes mild spices, to yield a thick, squeezable condiment.
As far as heat is concerned, yellow seeds are barely on the scale. Though, a quality yellow mustard should have a nice, sharp mustard taste. Due to its mellow nature, yellow mustard tends to be a very versatile sauce. You can find it used on hamburgers hot dogs, and even mixed into marinades, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings.
2. Honey Mustard
Honey mustard is exactly as the name suggests – a combination of mustard and honey. In most cases, it is created in a one-to-one ratio, though, it can be adjusted based on your own personal preferences. The main goal of honey mustard is to add sweetness to a sauce that is otherwise hot and bitter. Because of this, yellow is the most common type of mustard seed used, since it starts as a relatively mild flavor that is easily tamed by honey.
The sweet sauce that results still has much of its mustard complexity, but with the spicy characteristics neutralized. Honey mustard is great as a dipping sauce, as you’ll commonly see it paired with chicken fingers.
3. Spicy Brown Mustard
Made with brown mustard seeds, spicy brown mustard, as you might expect based on the name, amps up the heat. To make this type of mustard, the brown mustard seeds are soaked in less vinegar than traditional yellow mustard. The hotter seeds paired with less acidity make the spiciness of this condiment more distinct. Spicy brown mustard also involves leaving the bran on the seeds, which creates a texture that is must coarser than standard mustard. For an earthier taste, this type of mustard is often mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
Spicy brown mustard is more widely known as deli mustard, as it is created with the purpose of standing up to the robust flavors of meats like roast beef, pastrami, and many types of sausages.
4. Dijon Mustard
Originally made in Dijon, France in 1865 by a man named Jean Naigeon, Dijon mustard is a sharp mustard and also the first type to be regulated. The formula consists of brown mustard seeds and verjuice, an acidic juice that is made using unripe grapes. Acidity slows down the reaction that produces heat in mustard, so opting for a less acidic type of liquid creates a more robust, strong flavor profile with intense heat.
Most Dijon mustards are made using low acidity liquids – like white wine – and use either brown and/or black mustard seeds. Its pungent and sharp taste can be used in most applications as yellow mustard, whenever you want to a bit more of that mustard-y bite. Dijon also works incredibly well mixed into sauces, mayos, and vinaigrettes, to help develop the flavor further.
5. Whole Grain Mustard
Whole grain mustard is a type of mustard that has been ground up just enough to create a paste. It isn’t ground up enough to completely break down all of the mustard seeds. What results is a sauce that has a thick, coarse texture, as opposed to the smooth texture of traditional yellow mustard. There isn’t a particular formula for whole-grain mustard, though, most of the varieties you find are heavily influenced by Dijon mustards.
They typically feature wine instead of vinegar, as well as black or brown seeds instead of yellow, yielding a mustard that packs quite a punch. Whole grain mustard is often the go-to choice for charcuterie boards or when you want to add an extra bite to a ham sandwich.
6. Grey-Poupon Mustard
Grey-Poupon, is a brand of Dijon mustard and whole grain mustard which also originated in Dijon, France. Maurice Grey, a mustard manufacturer, obtained financing from Auguste Poupon, another mustard manufacturer, in 1866. This partnership lead to the creation of the Grey-Poupon mustard that we all know and love today.
Since then, Grey-Poupon has become the dominant Dijon mustard brand worldwide, known for its great taste and numerous pop culture references.
7. Hot Mustard
Two of the main methods for neutralizing the heat of a mustard seed is to either combine it with acid or hot water. Though, if you take both of these out of the equation, you’ll create a mouth-scorching type of mustard. This describes how hot mustard is made – beginning with ground black or brown mustard seeds and a sufficient amount of cold water mixed in. The mustard will slowly pick up the heat, peaking around the fifteen-minute mark and then mellowing out.
To slow down the decline of heat, you can add in vinegar or place it in the fridge once it is at its hottest. Though, this won’t completely stop the heat from neutralizing. This is why the hot mustard that you buy from the store won’t be as strong as the homemade variety.
8. English Mustard
English mustard is one of the many types of hot mustard out there. Commonly found under the Colman’s brand, English mustard combines yellow and brown mustard seeds. It forgoes vinegar entirely to allow for the mustard to be as hot as possible, though acid is often added to jarred English mustards as a stabilizer. Since English mustard includes more subdued yellow mustard seeds, it is nearly as hot as Chinese hot mustard.
While you can find this type of mustard in a bottle, like any other hot mustard, it is best bought in powdered form and mixed with cold water to enjoy the full heat and flavor potential.
9. German Mustard
As you might expect, Germany is a big fan of mustard. Though, you can’t simply judge a mustard that is labeled “German,” as the country produces mustards that range from fine to coarse and sweet to spicy. Some German mustards even include additional ingredients, such as horseradish, to add to the flavor.
The most famous mustard that hails from Germany is a combination of yellow and brown mustard seeds referred to as Mittelscharf, or medium hot. It is characterized by its distinctive spiciness that is a slight step up from Dijon mustard. Heading a bit west to Düsseldorf, and the mustard heats up even more!
10. Düsseldorf Mustard
Düsseldorf mustards are relatively similar to Dijon, but are more pungent as they are darker and made with vinegar instead of verjuice. Flavors can range from milder to hotter than Dijon, and even hotter depending on the type of mustard seed that is used. White, brown, or even decorticated black mustard seeds may be used to create Düsseldorf mustard. Some may also decorticate the brown mustard side, while others may feature a tiny amount of ground black pepper and clove into the mixture.
When compared to Bavarian mustards, Düsseldorf mustards will only have a bit of sweetness and sourness. The oldest brand of this type of mustard is likely ABB, or Adam Bernhard Bergrath, which has been in production since 1726. It is made using brown and yellow mustard seeds and brandy vinegar.
11. Bavarian Sweet Mustard
Bavarian sweet mustard is the type of mustard that they serve at Munich Oktoberfest. Also referred to as Bayerischer Süßer Senf or Weisswurst mustard, Bavarian sweet mustard has many different variations. Though, it is usually sweetened with either vinegar, honey, or apple sauce and traditionally served with a Weißwurst, a German sausage, or Leberkäse (similar to bologna sausage).
12. Creole Mustard
A staple in New Orleans cuisine, creole mustard is commonly found on everything from remoulade to po’boys. It features a grainy texture and a spicy taste that is created by the high ratio of vinegar to mustard seeds. Oftentimes, creole mustards also include celery seed and garlic.
13. Beer and Spirit Mustard
Beer mustard is said to come from the Midwestern United States in the 20th century, using beer as the liquid base. The beer is either used in place of or alongside the vinegar. Since it has less acidity, beer mustard usually packs quite a punch in terms of heat. When mellow brews are added, the mustard will mask the flavor of the beer. Though, when more full-bodied beers are added, like dark ales, porters, or stouts, they will add complexity to the mustard’s flavor profile.
Like beer, spirits can also be added to mustard and are typically done in addition to vinegar. Since they are must stronger than beer, spirits will add a lot of depth and character to a mustard recipe.
14. Chinese Mustard
Another type of hot mustard, Chinese mustard is known for its sharp, spicy taste. It is made by using dried brown mustard powder and water as the liquid. Though, many recipes call for rice vinegar, sesame oil, and/or vegetable oil. The brown mustard seeds used to make Chinese mustard are much stronger than white, black, or yellow seeds, which yields a stronger and spicier flavor.
Traditionally, Chinese mustard is seldom used for cooking and is best suited for use as a condiment. It can spice salads, meat, appetizers, and pairs especially well with fried egg rolls.
15. Fruit Mustard
Fruit Mustard, or Mustarda di Frutta, is technically not a mustard, but rather a condiment made from poaching fruits in a mustard-flavored syrup. Though it is mostly made out of fruit, it isn’t a jam or jelly. The best way to think of fruit mustard is as a type of relish that is best served with meats. It has a unique flavor that is relatively sweet, because of the fruit being candied in sugar syrup, but also slightly spicy with a pungent kick from the mustard.
However, you can find mustard that is flavored with a variety of different fruits – such as passionfruit.
16. Horseradish Mustard
One of the best things about mustard is that it can be flavored with virtually anything you want. Horseradish is one such popular variation which, as the name suggests, feature horseradish in the mixture. French’s has a horseradish deli mustard in a squeeze bottle, though, you can make your own at home. An easy way to make homemade horseradish mustard is to combine the following ingredients, along with ½ cup of water, and shake well.
- 1 ½ cups of apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup of dry mustard
- ¼ cup of yellow mustard seeds
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of prepared white horseradish, drained
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of packed light-brown sugar
Once combined, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours. Then, blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth!
How to Identify the Best Quality Mustard Seeds
When it comes to purchasing mustard seeds to make homemade mustard, it can be challenging to pick the best in terms of color, quality, and texture. That said, here are some general guidelines to help distinguish the best quality mustard seeds at the market:
- Dark, small seeds are generally the hottest and have the sharpest flavor. Whereas, brown seeds have a sweeter, more mellow taste than black seeds.
- White mustard seeds can be easily found at most grocery stores. They come in whole, crushed, or ground form.
- Since brown mustard seeds are not mass produced, they can be difficult to track down outside of Asian or Indian markets.
Whole mustard seeds are relatively stable and will last about three years. They don’t have to be kept away from heat but should be kept in a dry place. If you intend to store your mustard seeds for a long period of time, they should be subjected to no more than eight percent moisture.
What is the difference between white and yellow mustard seeds?
There is no difference between white and yellow mustard seeds, as they are the same thing. In fact, these seeds are actually more of a light tan color when whole. However, when the seeds are ground up, they have more of a yellow color that most people associated with yellow mustard.
Are small or big mustard seeds better?
As a general rule of thumb, the smaller and darker the seeds, the hotter they are. Black seeds have a sharp taste, with a nutty aftertaste. Brown seeds are mellower and sweeter, while white seeds tend to have a more subtle flavor.
Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
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