Homemade Mustard

**This article first appeared in the 10/19/2016 edition of the Seward Journal**

I was digging around trying to work out what might be a good recipe
for the week, and I got to thinking about Christmas looming just a
couple months down the line. I think this is mostly because I’m the
sort of guy who sets three alarms to get up on time. I’ve got my
super-optimistic 4:45, then the more conservative, but equally
unlikely 5:30, and then there’s the 6:05, “no-seriously” alarm that
usually does the trick. I think about Christmas gifting in the same
way. In October, I start thinking stuff up and typically find myself
scrambling around the day before the Christmas party with the gift
exchange to find something interesting. One year, I was so desperate
that I just stuffed all of the things necessary for beer and brats
into a gift bag and called it an ‘Authentic German Taco’ kit. Without
the fancy made-up label, it would have looked vaguely like I forgot
about the gift exchange and simply chose a bag at random from my most
recent grocery trip and labeled it a gift. Which is, in fact, what
happened there. Also, don’t Google “German Taco.” It will not go well.

Anyhoo, to get on with it, hunting season never really seems to end in
Alaska. Just a quick review of ADF&G regulations is a tangle of
confusing times, dates, geographical areas, and species. The bottom
line is that someone is always hunting moose or caribou in Alaska.
Always. Two highly popular products of those hunts are jerky sticks
and summer sausage. If you were one of the lucky ones to have gotten
game this year, odds are good you had some of these done up, and
there’s an equally good chance you’re going to give a bunch of them
away. I love these things. What I really love about them is the
giftable factor. However, I tend to think, when it comes to gifting
food, a kit is better than, say, a bag of dried meat. This is where
the mustard comes in. The best part of mustard is that you don’t
actually need moose jerky sticks to go with it. Any mix of sausage,
crackers, and cheese will accompany just fine, and will simultaneously
allow you to procrastinate right up to nearly the last second, while
still managing a thoughtful and creative gift.

Depending on how you do it, mustard only takes a couple of days, plus
the time it takes to dig up the mustard seed, probably something like
an online order. So, with about two months to go before actually
needing your awesome homemade mustard, and plenty of time to worry
about it, you can safely procrastinate and still have more than enough time
to get it all together.

Now, a word on the physics of mustard. The spiciness of your mustard
depends largely on two factors. The first is the temperature of liquid
you soak it in. In the world of mustard, cold liquid equals hot
mustard. Second is the type of mustard seed, going in order of
spiciness from yellow/white to brown to black. You can adjust the
recipe as desired to control for how spicy you want it.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup yellow/white mustard seed
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard seed (again, more brown or add some black for a
    spicier mustard)
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. honey (add more if you want a sweet/spicy mustard)

Directions:

Put whole mustard seeds into a large jar with vinegar and water. Use
icy liquid for more heat. Close the jar, shake well, and set in a
cool, dry place for about three days. I put mine on the counter, but
if you keep it in the fridge, it should help develop the mustard
flavor better. Keep an eye on the mustard. If it starts looking dry,
add a bit more vinegar; my experience is that you’ll need to splash in
something like another tablespoon in total. After about three days,
put the mustard and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor
and blend. The less you blend, the chunkier your mustard will be. I
like to guarantee some texture, so I set aside a few tablespoons of
whole, un-ground seed after it’s soaked and hand-mix them back in.
When you’re mixing, if you find it’s a bit too dry and evades proper
blending by sticking to the side of the food-processor, add a bit more
vinegar. If you’re inclined, add a few splashes of bourbon to this mix
– it adds a nice flavor. With all of the salt, vinegar, and mustard
seed, this should keep for a considerable amount of time at room
temperature, but it can go bad, so it’s best to refrigerate.

Enjoy!

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