The condiment comes initially from a flowery plant part of the Brassica family, along with cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprout, rapeseed and broccoli. Production of mustard can be traced as far back as the Antiquity, when Roman macerated crushed mustard seeds in grapes mash – the must, to get mustum ardens; the ardent must. The idea is likely to have been borrowed from the Gallic tribes producing their own version in the now celebrated city of Dijon. Their condiment has always been widely popular across Europe, being for a long time the only spice available to a commoner’s meal.
When it comes to mustard, water feeds its fire rather than extinguish it. To prepare the condiment, the seeds of the mustard plant are macerated in water often along with vinegar or, more rarely, alcohol. The longer they soak, the hotter the mustard will be.
The heat of mustard comes from an enzyme called myrosinase. They are an integral part of the defense system of the Brassica family. The enzyme is kept isolated in the when the plant is damaged, the freed myrosinase hydrolases the glycosides bond of certain glucosinate, producing a series of pungent compounds. When the enzyme is realeased, it thus needs the water to do its work. The intricate myrosinase chemistry (nicknamed the “mustard oil bomb”) is assumed to serve as an herbivore- repellent in Brassica. In black mustard seeds, allyl isothiocyanate is produced from sinigrin, giving mustard its spice. White seeds give a milder, sweeter mustard as they contain a different glucosinate, sinalbin. If the seeds are heated before being mixed in a dish (as in many Indian recipes), the result will be a milder mustardy taste. Allyl isothiocyanate also can be degraded by heat: if you cook with mustard oil and wish to purge its aggressive taste, heat is until it stars smoking.
Unconcerned by mustard? Show some pride: 90% of modern mustard seeds production comes from Canada. Saskatchewan spearheads the market, weighing in for half the country’s production. Skeptics, feel free to ask confirmation to the Saskatchewan mustard development commission – yes, there is such a thing; http://www.saskmustard.ca...