Mustard seeds are small seeds that come from various plants.
The mustard plant is part of the cruciferous vegetable group – a cancer-fighting plant family that also includes broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. The mustard leaves can be used in salads, but it is the seeds that contain concentrated amounts of glucosinolates (natural components found in cruciferous plants that have health-promoting properties) which are released when the seeds are chewed, broken or soaked. A byproduct of the glucosinolates, allyl isanthiocyanates, is what gives the mustard seeds their distinctive fiery bite, and has been shown to help prevent some cancers. Mustard seed oil is also rich in alpha-linoleic acid (a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid), which has a role in protecting against colon cancer and heart disease and promoting brain health. There is also some evidence (in rat studies) that black mustard seeds may help to lower blood sugar levels and help prevent prostate problems.
The seeds and oil of the black mustard plant, have also been known to be used for their diuretic properties, and for relieving rheumatism, arthritis, and the common cold. A paste is also sometimes made from the seeds and water, which is placed in a cloth and put directly on the skin as a ‘mustard-plaster’, and is used to treat lower back pain, arthritis, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and aching feet. However, more evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of black mustard for these uses.
Prepared mustard is made from grinding the seeds and mixing them with vinegar or water. White mustard seeds are used to make traditional yellow mustard and are quite mild in flavour. Dijon mustard is made from the brown seeds which taste more pungent and are dark yellow. The most pungent (sharper and hotter) is the black mustard seed.
Mustard is a delicious condiment that can be added to many dishes. Here is an easy home-made prepared mustard recipe that is packed full of mustard seeds and a few other herbs. It is delicious with steak or roast beef!
Herby wholegrain mustard
60g of mustard seeds
100ml of white wine or water
100ml of white wine vinegar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 garlic clove, grated
2g of fresh turmeric, grated
2 tbsp of honey (you can reduce this amount if you are ‘sugar’ conscious)
1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 handful of dill
1 handful of chives
- Place the mustard seeds and other ingredients (except the herbs) in a container and leave to soak in the fridge for at least 72 hours. The seeds will expand in this time so make sure you use a container big enough to accommodate this.
- Place the mixture in a blender and blitz briefly to attain a coarse texture. Roughly chop the herbs and blend through the mustard.
- Taste and season if needed. The mustard will last for a few weeks if kept in the fridge in a sterilized container.