Friday, May 17, 2013

Classic Homemade Hot Dog Mustard

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour. – Truman Capote

Feeling a bit yellow today. So I thought that this recipe just might fit the bill. It’s a summer staple and, like all condiments, are actually a breeze to make at home. It’s not even all that time consuming. I can (almost) promise no failure if you make it. 

This is mustard powder. It's best to start with it rather than
grind your own. It's so much less work.
This is the classic yellow hot dog mustard that is ubiquitous burgers and hot dog cookouts throughout the summer. It’s not that “lurid” yellow like we find in stores, but it’s close. I have no idea how they get that colour, and I probably don’t want to know.

You can buy mustard powder quite inexpensively at either a bulk food store or even groceries. They have several kinds and you can tailor this recipe to your liking. Try some brown mustard flour, or throw in a little hot.

Mustard use has a very long history. Romans were most likely first off the mark to use it as a condiment as opposed to just a spice. They mixed “must” (unfermented grape juice) with ground mustard seeds to make what they called “mustum ardens,” or burning must. That’s where our term “must-ard” originates.

If you’ve ever made homemade mustard you’ll know that “burning” can be an apt description. You can make some really heady stuff.

A recipe for mustard appears in a 4th or 5th Century cookbook called Apicius, that was anonymously complied at that time. It is one of the most complete snapshots into the culinary life of the Romans. There are some very interesting recipes in that book. I have an abridged copy.

The spices.
From the Mediterranean, mustard seeds were probably taken to old Gaul (currently France). By the 10th Century monks were making their own mustards to accompany their meagre meals. Many of the famous French mustards owe their early origins to monasteries in towns around the countryside.

All the European countries have their own individual mustards, made not only from ground seeds but also cracked, or whole. Taste differences are accounted for in what is put with the seeds.

This site contains several mustard recipes including two Dijon, Oktoberfest, Cognac and beer thyme mustard, plus a few more.

On this side of the Atlantic, mustard as a condiment was first introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The product was French’s Mustard, by the R.T. French Company. It is arguably still the most common North American mustard for hotdogs and hamburgers to this day.

A version of this common hot dog/hamburger mustard is the recipe outlined below. Like all mustards, this one benefits from sitting for about one week, but it can be used immediately after cooling if required.

I don’t know if it’s because I made this or not, but I quite like it. I usually don’t like “plain” yellow mustard. It must be a self-sufficiency satisfaction thing. Whatever makes it taste so good, t this one’s certainly going to be made again for this summer.

Homemade Yellow Mustard
Prep: 2 min  |  Cook: 10 min  |  Purée: 2 min  |  Yield: about 2 cups
1 cup ground mustard (regular or hot)
1 cup water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients except for the cayenne and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth and then bring to a boil. Regular mustard powder yields a mild mustard.

Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Taste for spiciness.

Pour the mustard into a food processor. Add as much cayenne as you feel you want (if any), and the lemon juice.

Purée for 2 minutes to mix well and smooth the mustard out even more.

If the mustard appears a little grainy don’t worry. Sitting in the refrigerator will help smooth it out even a little more. It will also thicken when cooled.

Place in jars and refrigerate.


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