Nearly 40 varieties of mustard plants are cultivated around the world, however, only three of them are used for producing mustard seeds: white mustard, brown mustard, and black mustard. Also known as black moutarde or brassica nigra, black mustard seeds are taken from the black mustard plant, which is eventually used in cooking and for making medicines.
Mustard seeds are highly prized for their culinary and medicinal properties for centuries. Their earliest references are present in early Indian writings dating back to 500 BC.
Know About Mustard
Mustard are ancient plants that have a great appeal for farmers. Its flowers are beautiful, its greens are edible, and seeds, if allowed to mature, self-sow and provide mustard in plenty. These are tiny seeds with lots of spunk. They grow almost anywhere, they are easy to grow, and there is seldom any problem with pests.
In all its forms, mustard’s flowers, leaves, shoots, and seeds, whether prepared or powdered, are flavorful to give a punch to any food preparation. Whole seeds can be used for cooking and pickling, tender greens can be tossed in fresh salads, mature leaves can be added to south-Indian side dishes, and crushed seeds can be used to make pungent mustards.
If you’ve ever travelled in an Indian Railways train during the early spring season, you must have seen farms laden with yellow flowers. Those are nothing but mustard plants. After pepper, mustard is the second most demanded spices in the world. From around 2000 BCE, ancient civilizations have been using mustard as a spice, an oil, and as a medicinal plant. Over centuries, mustard is known for its curative powers. It is known as a digestive aid, decongestant, and appetite stimulant. Since it boosts blood circulation, it can be used as a plaster to relieve inflammation. Folklore has it that you can sprinkle mustard in your socks for preventing frostbite.
Mustard belongs to the Cruciferae family, the same family from where cabbage and broccoli come from. Black mustard seeds are moderately spicy and have less-desirable greens. They are often grown for seeds only.
Mustard plant grows well in almost all soil conditions, however, the produce is maximum in soil that is well-prepared, well-drained, and rich with a pH of at least 6.0. Black mustard is the easiest to grow, as it thrives when provided with constant moisture. Cool weather is favorable for it, and light frost is even more helpful in improving its flavor.
10-15 pounds of fertilizer with 5-10-10 concentration per 500 sq. ft. is enough for optimum growth. Mustard is naturally free from diseases and insect problems. Critters do not like them much either. Mustard seeds are harvested just after they turn brown from green, before they ripe entirely. Otherwise, they may shatter and blow into all corners of your farm.
Nutritional Value of Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds are one of the most popular spices and are traded across the globe. They are cultivated in India, Pakistan, Canada, China, Bangladesh, Sweden, Poland, France, and many other countries. They are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. Most of the mustard seed benefits are attributed to their anti-inflammatory properties that are known to boost the body’s metabolism. Besides that, they have a low amount of calories and have high nutritional value.
With a high amount of magnesium, these seeds reduce the chances of arthritis and asthma attacks and also keep blood pressure under control. They are also helpful for people suffering from migraines. Indians use a lot of mustard seeds in their diet, as these are rich sources of calcium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, manganese, and dietary fibers.
Mustard seeds contain no cholesterol, about 25% of protein, and vegetable fat in only trace amounts. High in calcium, vitamin B, magnesium, and phosphorus, they have negligible calories due to which you can indulge freely without worrying about health and nutrition.
What Mustard Tastes Like?
Out of the three varieties, the most pungent ones are the black mustard seeds. Brown mustard is less spicy, and the least spicy are the white ones. The heat of black and brown seeds travel up to the nose, while that of white seeds stay mainly on the tongue.
Applications of Mustard Seeds
Several Indian recipes use mustard seeds and mustard oil. These often call for black seeds, while yellow are the ones you usually put on top of your hot dogs. Out of the three varieties of mustard seeds, brown and black look very similar in appearance, with black having a sharper flavor. Yellow mustard is mellower and often used as a condiment. Different varieties of mustard are taken from different plants:
- Black from Brassica nigra
- Brown from Brassica juncea
- Yellow from Sinapsis alba
Brown and black mustard seeds are added to Indian dishes in the whole form, particularly in South Indian recipes. Indians use oil-tempered mustard seeds to flavor many vegetables and curries. Some people also use mustard powder or mustard paste to prepare some dishes. In addition to their usefulness in cooking, mustard seeds have a whole lot of health benefits as well. Let’s have a look.
Mustard Seeds Benefits
Owing to their high nutritional value, they are found to be effective in managing a variety of health conditions, including the following:
Cancer: Mustard seeds have compounds like myrosinase and glucosinolates that are highly effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
Asthma: Copper, iron, and selenium in mustard seeds help in preventing or reducing asthma attacks.
Rheumatic Arthritis: Rich in selenium and magnesium, mustard seeds relieve the problem of arthritis.
Migraine: High magnesium levels in these seeds reduce the level and frequency of migraine attacks.
Blood Pressure: Iron, magnesium, selenium, and copper help treat blood pressure and keep it in control.
Menopausal Relief: Mustard seeds are highly helpful for women suffering from menopausal symptoms.
Digestive Problems: Due to their high dietary fibre content, these seeds help in improving digestion and bowel movements, thereby enhancing overall metabolism.
Fever and Flu: Their calefacient properties help in inducing sweating and reducing blood pressure, thereby cooling the body and relieving fever.
Teeth, Bones, and Gums Diseases: Calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium help in strengthening teeth and bones and stopping gums from bleeding.
Other Benefits of Black Mustard Seeds:
- Common cold
- Painful joints
- Low appetite
To relieve lower back pain, aching feet, pain, or swelling, you may make a mustard plaster by mixing ground mustard seeds in warm water and pasting this pack in a cloth, and applying it directly on the inflamed area.
A Culinary Guide to Mustard
Pick tender, young, and small leaves for salad, and use larger leaves for stewing and sauteing. Young leaves are appropriate for salads and stir-fries, as they add a sharp, nice flavour to the dishes. Large mustard leaves must be cooked. Stewing them with ham hock or bacon, or sauteing them with other greens makes a nice bed for grilled meats and fish. You may also add them to long-cooking stews and soups. Mustard flowers make a nice edible garnish.
Black mustard seeds are commonly used in Indian cooking. They are added to a dish either whole, fried, or toasted. Some people also use them in stir-fries along with other types of aromatic ingredients. White seeds are often used for pickling or added to dishes after toasting. You may also grind them to make mustard condiments.
You may make a mustard condiment by combining salt and different liquids with mustard seeds. Make a paste with sauce-like consistency and use it the way you like. The liquids may vary depending on the flavour and condiment you want, including water, wine, vinegar, lemon juice, beer, or verjus. Mustard oil gives a sinus-searing punch that results from an enzyme meant to protect us. You may stabilise the oil by adding liquids to it.
Making mustard condiment is one of the most common ways of incorporating mustard seeds into your recipes. However, there are certain dishes in Indian cuisine that use black mustard seeds for texture and spice. They saute seeds in oil to let them pop and cook them along with other ingredients. White and brown mustard seeds are not only used to make condiments but can also be used to make pickling spice.
Buying and Storing Mustard Seeds
You can find mustard seeds in the spices section of a grocery store. If you are outside India, you will find them at an Indian specialty store in your city. Once bought, you can keep them stored for up to a year in an air-tight container in a dry and dark place.
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