Mustard methods

Making your own mustard can mean different things: from blending some tinned mustard powder with water to, at the other extreme, growing your own mustard plants, harvesting the seeds, grinding them and picking up from there.

Of course there are delicious pre-made mustards available off the shelf, but as a mustard lover I’ve dabbled a few times with making my own, using a middle ground method: buying mustard seeds from the supermarket and, well, proceeding as below.

But first, lessons learned:

  1. The supermarket own brand mustard seeds are exactly the same as the leading spice jar brand, and much cheaper.
  2. Cheaper still are large 500g bags of seed, available from eastern food shops and on-line.
  3. There are three types of mustard seed: black, brown and yellow.  Black makes the most pungent, brown is medium, yellow is milder. Look closely at the supermarket label – it’ll say somewhere.
  4. The first liquid to add to your seeds should be water.  That starts the enzyme reaction to release the flavour.  But the flavour starts to tail off after 10 minutes, so at that point add vinegar, which instantly stops the reaction, fixing the flavour.
  5. Freshly made, your mustard will likely taste horrible. You have to let it mature. Personally I think at least two months. By that time the taste will be transformed.  Even six months or more is fine. If you’re making a mustard flavoured with fresh additives such as herbs, mix them in after maturing; otherwise they could go off within the mustard during that long wait.

My wholegrain tarragon mustard recipe

Wholegrain Tarragon Mustard

  • Servings: about a coffee mug full
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Getting things ready


  • 1 jar yellow mustard seeds (Schwartz-size jar)
  • 200 ml cold water
  • 100 ml tarragon vinegar, or white wine vinegar / cider vinegar (malt vinegar such as Sarson’s is too strong)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped french tarragon, dried or fresh.


  1. Roughly grind the mustard seeds, either in a pestle & mortar or a blender with a sharp blade. Aim to have about half the seeds broken, releasing quite a bit of powder.
  2. Tip the ground seeds and powder into a measuring jug. Add 200ml of cold water.
  3. Wait ten minutes.
  4. Then add  the 100ml of vinegar.
  5. Stir straight away to mix the water and vinegar thoroughly.

    Seeds soaking in the water and vinegar mix
    Seeds soaking in the water and vinegar mix
  6. Cover loosely with a paper towel and leave for two or three days.

    Fully soaked seeds, ready for blending
    Fully soaked seeds, ready for blending
  7. Pour off the excess liquid into a bowl or cup and keep to one side.
  8. Tip the grainy mix into your blender and blitz it for a good minute or so.

    The mustard coming together in the blender, with excess soaking liquor ready to thin it.
    The mustard coming together in the blender, with excess soaking liquor ready to thin it.
  9. Inspect and if the mix is too thick add a little of the poured off liquid and remix.
  10. Once the consistency is the way you like it (it’ll firm up a little more in the fridge) tip in the herbs and remix.
  11. Spoon into a jar, label and put in the fridge to mature for two months or more before tasting.

    The finished product, apart from a couple of months to mature
    The finished product, apart from a couple of months to mature

    Ready to go in the fridge to mature
    Ready to go in the fridge to mature

The end product will have the taste and aroma of a lovely French mustard, so less fiery than English. Vary it with any herbs you like, dried herbs work very well, or stir in some honey. Keep it in the fridge and enjoy!


  1. […] There are three key principles to turning those seeds into tasty mustard: 1. It's much easier to process / blitz them into mustard if you've soaked them for a few days to soften them. dry mustard seeds are very hard. 2. Water, not vinegar, triggers the enzyme in the seeds that releases flavour. But leave them soaking in water too long (more than about 10 minutes) and the flavour fades again. So it's then, after 10 mins, that you add the vinegar, which stops the reaction and fixes the flavour. And that's the mix that you leave to soak for a few days. 3. After you've soaked and blitzed the mix, your mustard will probbly taste vile. You have to let it mature. I usually leave it for at least two months. The longer the better and the transformation of the taste can be stunning. I left one jar for about a year, after which it tasted sublime. Here's my recipe and method. […]


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