In my quest to make things from scratch, I have realized that there are so many things that at first seem unscratchable. It’s so easy to go to the grocery store and bringing home boxes, cartons and jars of food that sometimes it seems like that is the only way to get them. But with just a little time and effort pretty much everything can be made from raw ingredients in our own kitchens. I know not everyone has the time or wants to make the effort, but for some reason I can’t help myself. I often wonder what drives me to do this. I think it’s the thrill of knowing that I can make it myself and don’t need to rely on someone else to do it for me, its because it tastes better and doesn’t contain strange ingredients, and its an inexplicable curiosity. This last one is what led me to try making mustard.
I am not a condiment person and I use mustard infrequently. Other than to fuel my obsession interest in making it myself, I am not exactly sure what inspired me to try making a condiment that is rarely used in my kitchen. Maybe it was when I needed a tablespoon or two for my balsamic vinaigrette dressing and we didn’t have any. Maybe it was because I stumbled upon a recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Canning. Whatever the reason, I now have plenty of mustard and after making it myself, I am thinking about new and exciting uses for it like this recipe and grilled sandwiches with brie, apple, and spinach.
Not only is it satisfying to make something yourself, it also means that you know exactly what is in it. This mustard is simple to make and if you can find a store that has bulk spices, the ingredients are inexpensive and they yield an ample amount of mustard (well, I guess that depends how much mustard you consume, but it makes about four half pint jars — some of mine will be given as gifts). If you have never canned before, this is an easy project to start with. Unless you grow your own mustard seeds, the ingredients can easily be found year round, so if you are swamped with preserving the fall harvest, this could be a project for the cold months when nothing is growing nearby.
For me, there is something so rewarding about making things myself and I love the creative process. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Do you like making things from scratch? What is your favorite thing to make instead of buy?
Brown Beer Mustard
Adapted from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Once you get the basics, there are so many variations of mustard you can make. I chose this recipe because it was pretty basic. The beer adds some flavor but it is not overpowering, and of course all the alcohol cooks out. Darker beers with produce a stronger flavor and color.
I used 8-ounce jars and filled four of them with this recipe.
1 pint of beer
1 cup brown mustard seeds
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder
In a medium saucepan, combine beer and brown mustard seeds. Bring to a boil then remove from heat, cover and let stand for about 2 hours, until the seeds have absorbed most of the liquid.
In a blender or food processor, puree marinated seeds and remaining liquid until blended and most of the seeds are well chopped (it should still be slightly grainy).
Transfer mixture to a stainless steel saucepan and whisk in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently, stirring frequently until volume is reduced by one third (about 15 minutes).
Prepare canning pot, jars and lids. For canning basics go here. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. The mustard will keep in the cupboard for up to one year. If you prefer not to can it, you can refrigerate it for several months.