September 4, 2012
In which we forget much of what we learned before and start anew.
It’s been six months since we made mustard, and in that time the original notes and handouts from Edward FitzRanulf’s class, which contained the recipes we’ve been using as a springboard for our experiments, have vanished beneath one of many piles of papers in this increasingly cluttered house. An internet search reveals that the website that contained FitzRanulf’s modern redaction of the strong mustard recipe has disappeared, so some guessing with amounts has had to happen. I’m certain it can’t be mucked up too badly, short of trying something foolish like substituting bourbon for vinegar.
So here is roughly what we did to come up with the Strong Mustard #5, after consulting with Digby to be sure we weren’t missing any ingredients:
-one cup of ground mustard seed, about a third of that rai kuria (yellow mustard seed, hulled and split) and the rest black; soaked in enough white wine vinegar to make a thick paste. Left overnight.
-one yellow onion, grated, and about three tablespoons of grated fresh horseradish, soaked overnight in red wine vinegar.
Both of these put together the next day and blended with salt, pepper, and dried ginger, in which we completely guessed at the amounts and also failed to take notes, because apparently we never learn. And enough additional white wine vinegar as was needed to get it to keep moving in the food processor.
This was all put up in a jar and left for a day at which time the memory of substituting ground almonds for FitzRanulf’s recommended bread crumbs surfaced, so the mustard was all tipped out of the jar, blended again with a cup of ground almonds, and piled back into the jar. I’m sure it will be fine.
Posted by jodi on September 4, 2012 at 9.36pm
February 21, 2012
It’s time for first! instalment! of 2012! in the ongoing chronicles of Homemade Mustard Adventure Time. Don’t act like you haven’t been on the edge of your seat waiting for this, now.
Our latest mustard, known henceforth by the clever name of Strong Mustard #4, is yet another slight variation on the Kenelm Digby recipe. After this mustard was all potted up ready for its six week rest, Peter expressed surprise that this batch didn’t follow the tried-and-true, reproducing our most popular of the strong varieties to date (Strong Mustard #2), of which since The Giftening we only have one pint left. So we’ll probably put up another smaller batch of that next just to be sure we never run out.
Notes for Strong Mustard #4 (a double batch):
-instead of using all brown mustard seed, this batch uses half brown and half yellow (or rather, half rai kuria, which is basically the same thing only with the skin removed, and was the only yellow mustard seed our local Indian grocery had).
-ground mustard seed was soaked overnight in white wine vinegar, while the onion and horseradish was soaked in red wine vinegar.
-honey was used in place of sugar (I’d like to try maple syrup but after the disastrous result of using bourbon in Lombard #4, I’m scared).
-for blending, a few splashes of red wine vinegar were used followed by lots and lots of white wine (Pelee Island Chardonnay, again), pretty much all of the wine that was open in the fridge. I didn’t measure but it was probably about 1 1/4 cup.
-finely ground almonds were used to thicken. Some of the Lombard mustards were a bit chunky due to insufficiently grinding the almonds in the blender, so this time they were done in the coffee grinder that is reserved for spices (and mustard!).
Posted by jodi on February 21, 2012 at 3.11pm
December 25, 2011
Thirty six jars of the stuff, and still there are leftovers from five of the six batches.
Posted by jodi on December 25, 2011 at 7.09am
December 22, 2011
When last we talked about mustard (I KNOW YOU GUYS LOVE TALKING ABOUT MUSTARD), the first four had gone to Milwaukee to be tasted around the AmericanThanksgiving holiday table at the home of my dear friend Merouda Pendray. Because I am Merouda’s apprentice, she took the mustards to a Kingdom of Northshield event and entered them into the arts and sciences competition there, where they tied for populace favourite, with the Lombard Mustard being the most well liked (which it was at Merouda’s table as well). So that was super gratifying and now there will be no shutting me up about making mustard SO THERE. Just wait until you see just how much I can talk about mustard. Maybe next I’ll start making my own pretzels and after that you know there’s going to be no sense in even coming here any more.
Two weeks later the mustards, along with three new variations on the Lombard, were put out for tasting at my birthday party. Surprisingly, the Strong #2, which was the only Strong Mustard deemed not yet ready for eating at AmericanThanksgiving, was the clear favourite of this type*, while Lombard #2 received the most praise for its type. It was universally agreed that Lombard #4, the one with the bourbon in it, was pretty much awful. Because I’m a nice person I did not force Shane Potvin** to eat all of it, as I’d been threatening to do all week. Instead, since it’s quite thick, I’m planning to put it back into the blender and thin it out with more cider vinegar to see if it can be altered enough to save it. Peter has suggested I cut my losses and throw it out but there’s no stopping the crazy mustard lady once she gets started (WATCH OUT). In the meantime, only the first 6 mustards will be potted up into smaller jars for Crimbo giving. Because I am a nice person.
*The only difference between Strong #1 and Strong #2 is that with Strong #2 I actually read the recipe before starting and thus didn’t accidentally use twice as much vinegar as needed. Not that it turned out to be a bad thing.
**I feel he would have deserved it because, knowing I was getting kind of antsy about so many events conflicting with my birthday party, he told me that he was going to this other party instead where they were “going to have like six kinds of mustard” to which I replied because I can’t help myself I AM GOING TO HAVE SEVEN. Really you can’t blame the guy when it’s SO EASY.
Posted by jodi on December 22, 2011 at 5.23pm
December 1, 2011
In between our trip to Milwaukee for Americanthanksgiving and our trip to Toronto for Roller Derby World Cup, three more variations on the Lombard mustard were put up. Samples of the first four mustards came with us to Milwaukee to get tasted: Mustard #1 (Strong #1) is pretty much ready to eat (but is Very Strong and needs to be used With Caution); Mustard #2 (Strong #2) was deemed not yet ready and set aside to age further; Mustard #3 (Strong #3, the red wine vinegar variation) is also ready and in my opinion was the nicest of the three; Mustard #4 (Lombard #1) was by far the best and much milder than the rest although it too has a bit of a kick to it. The texture is a bit strange due to the softened creamed honey, but the taste is lovely.
Mustards 5, 6 and 7 are all further variations on the Lombard (from The Forme of Cury, 1390).
#5 (Lombard #2) (this is going to get so confusing; they’ll have to be given proper names when they’re bottled for gift-giving): used 50% white wine vinegar, 50% white wine (a Pelee Island Chardonnay, chosen based on proximity as it was the only white wine in the fridge). The mustard seed was initially soaked overnight in white wine vinegar. Liquid honey was used, and ground almonds used in place of bread crumbs.
#6 (Lombard #3): used 75% red wine vinegar, 25% Pelee Island Chardonnay. The mustard seed was initially soaked overnight in red wine vinegar. I thought about using red wine as well, but the white was already open. Liquid honey was used, and ground almonds used in place of bread crumbs.
#7 (Lombard #4): used 75% apple cider vinegar, 25% Makers Mark bourbon. The mustard seed was initially soaked overnight in Makers Mark. Like the others, this one has liquid honey and ground almonds. Oddly, although this mustard contained more liquid than the other two (we were running out of mustard seed and came up a bit short but inadequate note-taking made me forget that when adding the liquid later on), it was the thickest coming out of the blender, almost stiff. Perhaps it should have been thinned with a bit more vinegar, but oh well. This batch may end up being a complete disaster, as its taste on bottling was something between Everclear and acetone. We shall see.
Posted by jodi on December 1, 2011 at 8.56am
November 18, 2011
Moving on from the recipe used for the first three mustards, this one follows the recipe for Lombard Mustard found in The Forme of Cury. The recipe is as follows:
Take Mustard seed and waishe it & drye it in an ovene, grynde it drye. farse it thurgh a farse. clarifie hony with wyne & vynegur & stere it wel togedrer and make it thikke ynowz. & whan þou wilt spende þerof make it tnynne with wyne.
The modern version given to us by Edward fitzRanulf called for 1 cup mustard seeds, 0.5 cup white vinegar, 0.5 cup bread crumbs, 2 tsp. salt and 0.5 cup honey. Modifications for Mustard #4:
-blended yellow and brown mustard seed instead of using all brown, as usual; this was a double batch and we used all the yellow mustard seed we had, so the blend was something like a bit less than half a cup of yellow and a bit more than 1.5 cups brown
-substituted ground almonds for bread crumbs
-white wine vinegar (you are just never going to convince me that it’s a good idea to use straight up white vinegar for anything that isn’t pickles or washing windows)
-we used creamed honey softened in the microwave, but it occurred to me later that Edward probably meant for liquid honey to be used, because Americans don’t seem to use creamed honey like Canadians do: while living in Georgia creamed honey was difficult for me to find, and the first time I brought it to the studio one of my colleagues shouted, WHY ARE YOU PUTTING LARD IN YOUR TEA? So anyway, we’ll use liquid honey next time. The honey gave the mustard a grainy, sparkly quality that’s a bit odd looking, but on first tasting it was pretty nice, if still a bit strong.
The original recipe says to use vinegar AND wine, so for the next batch we’ll try a blend of wine vinegar and a dry white wine.
As for the first three mustards, #1 is finally settling down into something edible, and the strong bitter edge is all but gone. In fact, there seems to be little difference now between Mustards #1 and #2. We’ve used both in salad dressings with good success but have yet to try them on a sandwich.
Posted by jodi on November 18, 2011 at 8.13am
October 30, 2011
Mustard #2, another variation on Edward fitzRanulf’s Strong Mustard, (a translation of a Kenelm Digby mustard, 1669) was put up on October 4 and is already mellowing out better than the first attempt. Modifications to the original recipe are as follows:
-vinegar used was 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 white wine vinegar
-ground almonds used in place of bread crumbs
Mustard #3, the third (and final, for the time being) variation on Edward’s recipe, was put up on October 29. On initial tasting before it went into the jar to chill on the counter for a while, this mustard tastes much sweeter than the first two. Modifications:
-red onion substituted for white
-red wine vinegar
-ground almonds in place of bread crumbs
-horseradish omitted (this is likely the biggest contributor to the sweeter taste)
While Mustard #1 is still too harsh to eat straight up or on sandwiches, I tried it in a simple salad dressing (large dollop of mustard, dollop of honey, olive oil, cider vinegar, sea salt and black pepper) and it was pretty good (but strong!). Usable in this manner even if it doesn’t mellow any further, but it’ll sit out for a while longer just to see if a bit more of the edge comes off it.
Next I’ll be moving on from the Digby mustard to one more that we were given by Edward fitzRanulf, the 1390 Lombard Mustard found in Samuel Pegge’s The Forme of Cury. It’s a simpler recipe, just mustard, bread crumbs (again I’ll likely use almonds), vinegar, honey and salt. I’m going to try using a mix of yellow and brown mustard seed (instead of all brown) in hopes of producing a lighter flavour.
Posted by jodi on October 30, 2011 at 9.17am
October 2, 2011
While at Pennsic this past August, Peter and I attended a class with Edward fitzRanulf on medieval mustards, where we discussed the place of mustard in the medieval household, looked at recipes from period sources, and sampled the instructor’s modified versions of the recipes. I came home determined to make pints upon pints of mustard and give it away to everyone on our WinterHoliday gift list (dear family: if you’re not so much into the mustard, please tell me now). The basic method for mustard-making is to grind your mustard seeds (brown or black, never yellow!), mix them with vinegar, then throw in all manner of things that are meant to tone down the harshness of the vinegar and mustard mixture: sugar, spices, bread crumbs, ground nuts, sweet wines. Now, doesn’t that sound like an easy and fun project? I thought so.
Peter and I were much more impressed by the strong, savoury mustards than the sweeter ones (although they were pretty good too, and will get a little go-round in our kitchen at some later date), so our experiments with homemade mustards will begin with Edward’s redaction of a 1669 recipe for “strong mustard”. Below is the original recipe, found in The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened (pages 194-5).
TO MAKE MUSTARD
The best way of making Mustard is this: Take of the best Mustard-seed (which is black) for example a quart. Dry it gently in an oven, and beat it to subtle powder, and searse it. Then mingle well strong Wine-vinegar with it, so much that it be pretty liquid, for it will dry with keeping. Put to this a little Pepper beaten small (white is the best) at discretion, as about a good pugil, and put a good spoonful of Sugar to it (which is not to make it taste sweet, but rather quick, and to help the fermentation) lay a good Onion in the bottom, quartered if you will, and a Race of Ginger scraped and bruised; and stir it often with a Horse-radish root cleansed, which let always lie in the pot, till it have lost it’s vertue, then take a new one. This will keep long, and grow better for a while. It is not good till after a month, that it have fermented a while.
Some think it will be the quicker, if the seed be ground with fair water, in stead of vinegar, putting store of Onions in it.
My Lady Holmeby makes her quick fine Mustard thus: Choose true Mustard-seed; dry it in an oven, after the bPage 195read is out. Beat and searse it to a most subtle powder. Mingle Sherry-sack with it (stirring it a long time very well, so much as to have it of a fit consistence for Mustard. Then put a good quantity of fine Sugar to it, as five or six spoonfuls, or more, to a pint of Mustard. Stir and incorporate all well together. This will keep good a long time. Some do like to put to it a little (but a little) of very sharp Wine-vinegar.
I won’t reproduce Edward’s version of the recipe here, but you can find it in this Barony of the Cleftlands feast menu. Some of the ingredients are left open to interpretation: cooking onion or sweet onion? what kind of sugar? should the mustard seeds be dry roasted first (as appears in the original, but isn’t specified in the modern version)? So we are going to tweak it this way and that until we find our favourite methods.
Our first batch of mustard was started on September 11 and put up in a jar on September 14.
Notes for the first batch:
-Edward’s recipe calls for white vinegar, but Digby’s calls for “strong wine-vinegar”. I used half white wine vinegar and half chive blossom vinegar (which I made earlier in the summer from this recipe, using half white wine vinegar and half white vinegar).
-mustard seed (unroasted) was doubled, but then I forgot to double the rest of the ingredients, so this batch isn’t going to be very toned down. Too much vinegar was added, enough to make this soupy instead of a thick paste. It all worked out in the blendering though, and two weeks later the mustard is nice and thick but not stiff.
-used regular yellow cooking onion.
-the original recipe calls for a whole root of horseradish; Edward’s calls for “pureed horseradish” which I suspect means from a jar? possibly because that’s sometimes easier to come by. I used fresh horseradish root, grated finely. As well, I didn’t have the horseradish yet when I started the mustard, so it was thrown at the end with the spices and didn’t steep overnight with the onion and vinegar.
-used granulated white sugar.
-Edward used bread crumbs in a lot of his mustards, but one of the sweeter recipes contained ground almonds instead. I try not to add extra wheat to things, and I want the option of sharing these mustards with my gluten-free friends, so all of our mustards will contain ground almonds instead of bread crumbs.
Batch #2 was started on October 2nd: mustard seed put up to steep overnight in 1/2 apple cider vinegar, 1/2 white wine vinegar. Pureed yellow cooking onion and grated horseradish root steeping in the same vinegar ratio.
Posted by jodi on October 2, 2011 at 2.31pm