Mustards! I took all of the books I could find, and used all of the mustard recipes I could within them. If I missed some, please mention it so I can go back. Some books didn't have any, and some were harder to find or identify than others.
My first order of business was to set basic concepts and ground rules for the project. With the plan being to use a dozen mason jars, I decided to
- use whole mustard wherever I could, and grind it. stick with yellow mustard for flavor
- limit myself to one ounce of seed per jar where possible,
- not use salt unless called for specifically (it never was)
- comparison unless brown were specified
- start them all at the same time, rather than trying to get them to finish at the same time
On to the books.
Guter Spise had mustard as an ingredient, but not as a result.
NeapolitanRecipe 32; Not a "mustard," but it is called one. Not being a condiment, this will happen another day. Recipe 121: Mustard seed soaked in wine or must. The description is what passes for scathing, the author seems to have considered this a required waste of ink. As for flavor, it's simply an acidic whole-grain mustard. Grinding the seed, allowing it to mature for some months in a cool room, and serving with a cheese course make perfect sense to my palate. Recipe 122: Start by steeping the seeds, then blend with blanched almonds and must syrup or verjus, then strain, thicken, and add spices if so desired. In steeping, the seeds doubled in size and absorbed about 150% of their dry weight in water. Aroma is cheeselike, but it is quite mellow, and would be lovely with cheese, dried fruit, or with poultry. It's honestly a lot more pleasant than expected. I made the “must” variant, using must from a local vinegar shop. Recipe 123: balled mustard for trips. First soak the seeds (again, 150% absorption rate) then grind with raisins and spices, form into a ball, and dehydrate on a board. This is to be used on the road. To use it, grate it into "verjus or must or wine or vinegar." A mortar and pestle was the only functional tool for this, as the spice/coffee grinder could not get to the seeds. The wet mustard mixture was too sticky to bounce around enough to get smacked up. I added the cinnamon and raisins, and crushed the mustard bit by bit until the raisins were no longer visible. Then I rolled the mass into little balls and allowed them to dry in a warm drafty spot for two days. Libellus de arte coquinaria;P 87, Recipe 8 Another Sauce; I passed on this one, as it was too similar to a couple of others and I am low on seeds. P. 88, Recipe 9 Another One; This one is fun. It calls for the seeds to be ground with honey, cinnamon, and anise. The honey really helped in the mortar and pestle, it kept the little seeds from bouncing around so much. Smells great. I added an ounce of plain red wine which has vinegared on the counter, which it absorbed quickly. Being done and marked as being "good for three months," I will check and add more vinegar if needed. Flavorwise a week later, the mustard strength is tempered by cinnamon, not as sharp, has a backbite. Good for smoked meats, ham. It's deep dark and earthy, yet refined. Goodman of ParisP 188 Sauces Not Boiled; There are two listed in one notation, one for making mustard to be used at once, the other for when you have time to allow it to mature. I chose to work with the "At Leisure" variety. It very simply calls for the seeds to be soaked in vinegar overnight, ground, then have any spices left from making spiced wine added. Not only is this frugal, it seems it would add lovely complementary flavor. P 196 has the recipe for hippocras, which gives proportions of spices to be added. I do not use ginger, and have no galangale, so I used the cinnamon, grain of paradise, and nutmegs, soaked them in wine overnight as well to emulate the "used and discarded" bit, and folded them in the next day. The blend being very tight (dry), I added some of the seasoned wine as well. On tasting, it was a bit generic and acidic, though the spices did add some depth. P 195; About halfway down this page of preserving foods is a mustard recipe as a sub-recipe for preserving root vegetables. It starts by asking for "for every 500 nuts", which gave me a key for weights and measures. I worked out that 500 almonds is just about 16 ounces, and that the measure in use at the time was nominally 12 ounces. This made working out the measures of spices far easier. I added the anise, coriander, and caraway, but have no fennel seed. All of this went into a processor, which didn't help much. When I added the vinegar it started to work, and eventually I got something smoother. It absorbed almost all of the liquid right away. There is a note to add horseradish at the end of this recipe, I am not yet decided whether I will. It appeard to be to be a note to add this to the full recipe for preserving root vegetables, rather than to the subrecipe for the mustard portion. (a question mark) On tasting, we agreed that this is much better as an ingredient than a separate sauce, it wanted and lacked the depth and lushness of the other items involved in making a proper compost. I will make it again when I have root vegetables to preserve, and judge it again. Sent Sovip 81 Recipe XIX; I was tired of the mortar and pestle, and the processor isn't good at little seeds. I tried a sesame-seed mill, it nominally worked. At least it hulled the seeds, if not actually breaking them down to powder. I cracked the seeds and poured hot water over them. Then I strained them and did it again. I could not grind the seeds (I am done in), but did fold in the same weight chicken broth as dry mustard seeds. I added a tenth part honey, as those recipes with proportions of sweetener seem to work out to 1:10 sweetener:mustard by dry weight. Being blanched and not having vinegar at all, I am quite curious as to how this one will work out. On tasting, we agree that this was a waste of mustard seeds. Flavorless and lacking in any character, we kind of felt let down.
There is a comment in Sent Sovi on making French mustard just as there is in Neapolitan, but not only does the author reserve personal opinion, there is a suggestion to add fruit syrup. I let that one pass.
mentions mustards, but the tastiest looking one is meant as a poultice for sciatica. (not to imply that it looked tasty!)
Cury on Inglisch p 131 recipe 150 Lumbard Mustard; Finding this one is hard. I find this book to the the most frustrating of all of them to hunt through, it's a combination of the organisation and the fonts. Grind the seeds, I whacked them with a meat-flattener, then switched to a rolling pin. Eventually I had to admit defeat, half of the mustard weight is powdered. I added the honey, the wine and the vinegar, and must thin it with wine at use. HOT! Horseradishy. Awesome for sausages, smoked meats, or ham, it has all of the characteristics we desire from a spicy mustard. Martino; The Art of Cooking P 135: Just as scathing as Neapolitan's comment, this one simply remarks on French mustard "It is merely thinned with bitter or sodden wine. This is French mustard- for what it's worth." ooh, spiteful! The recipe on 78 for "Red or Violet mustard" is for the plant, not the seeds, and not a condiment but a dish. Two weeks later, I went back to check on them all.
Neapolitan Recipe 121 About the same; this would be a fine base for a mustard, but it isn't by any means usable in this state. Neapolitan Recipe 122 Fermented and grey, I think this was best at three days. I stand by my suggestion for service with a cheese plate with dried fruit. Neapolitan Recipe 123
Libellus de arte coquinaria; P 88 Still pleasant, but nothing to write home about. This did not live up to expectations, sadly. Goodman of Paris P 188 Way past prime, unfortunately. I think a week in the fridge is all it is good for. It is uninteresting, particularly compared to how rich and pleasant some of the others are.
Goodman of Paris P 195 It got funky (musty smelling.) I will make this in the fall when I have root veg out of the garden. Sent Sovi p 81 About the same, but still less than interesting. Thin and plain. Cury on Inglisch p 131 Has lost nothing of it's charm. It is a good and interesting option. We used it up first.
REVISITING NEAPOLITAN 123
There were some interesting points on this one. From one ounce of mustard seed I have two ounces of completed mustard balls. They are quite light and airy from the hulls of the mustard being so coarse. They have a lovely aroma, and look quite sensibly portable.
- They took about two days to dry properly
After drying on the counter for several days, I decided to test a couple of variables. I placed three balls each in separate jars, and covered each with 10x its weight in liquid. One was steeped in red wine, one in red wine vinegar, and one in verjus. 12 hours later, I looked in on them, they had not dissolved, but had soaked up some liquid. The Vinegar one I mashed with all it's liquid, it was far too runny. The Verjus, I poured off all but a volume equivalent to the still-whole ball, and mashed. Still too runny, though a useful consistency. The plain wine, I poured off all of the liquid, and mashed just the ball. It was a slight bit thick, very spreadable. My suggestion is to soak with enough liquid to cover, separate, mash, and add back the used soaking liquid as needed for the consistency you prefer. Flavors and aromas were slightly different, though the character was similar enough between the three to be functionally interchangeable. The wine had the most heat and sweetness, the verjus was sharpest, and the vinegar was pretty well balanced between the two.
A half hour later, the sweetness lingers.