"A good mustard should have heat. It should quickly rise up through the nose, bring a tear to the eye, and then as rapidly, dissipate, opening all the senses to the full flavours on the plate." - Mephasnifanis
On a Saturday at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada, Anton Kozlik’s stall is jammed. But instead of jelly, jars of mustard should be blamed for all the shoulder bumping. Impatient shoppers shove their way to toothpicks and on to freshly fried back bacon, which they plunge into one of the sixteen or more mustards open and ready for sampling. To Kozlik, the free, juicy pork is the perfect salty, fatty foil for his line of artisanal mustards. And the cost of the endless supply of the Canadian bacon is just a good business investment. Arranged from sweet to savoury to spicy, shoppers start with Kozlik’s classic “Dijon by Anton,” then move on to green peppercorn, raspberry, tarragon, clobbered cranberry, “balsamic + figs and dates,” maple, and lime and honey. Finally, the diehards and the pain-seekers get to the horseradish burn of the “Really Hot” and “XXX Hot.”
While the market for small-batch mustards is clearly healthy (despite the masochism of Kozlik’s spiciest offerings), mustard is actually simple to make. Don’t tell that to Maille or French’s, of course. But in terms of equipment and special skills, making a basic mustard is a beginner-friendly culinary operation. The tricks are to use 5% acetic acid vinegar that isn’t too pungent (Champagne, white wine) and to be patient. The multi-day process of manageable steps starts with a day of soaking the mustard seeds, and ends with opening a jar and waiting up to three days for the mustard to mellow (though the latter is optional). If that doesn’t appeal to you, stick to jam, or invest in a vacuum sealer. And leave the homemade fish sauce to professionals. The white wine in this variation on traditional mustard adds a touch of gourmet. And if that’s not complicated enough or you want to do a little more exploring, talk to Anton about Bordeaux and Hot Russians.
Homemade Mustard with Champagne Makes two 500 mL jars
The dry mustard adds smoothness while the mustard seeds add texture. That is, unless your blender is extremely powerful, in which case the mustard will be Dijon-style smooth. If the 1 ½ cups of Champagne seems wasteful, use a different sparkling wine. 1 cup yellow mustard seeds 1 1/2 cups extra brut Champagne or sparkling wine 1 cup water 1/2 cup Champagne vinegar 1/4 cup dry mustard 2 tbsp diced shallots 1 teaspoon Kosher or non-iodized salt.
Combine all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl or jar. Cover and refrigerate for one day, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Metal can react with the acid and create off-flavours.
Sterilize two 250mL jars and rims in a large pot of boiling water by boiling for 10 minutes. The jars must be covered by 1-inch of water on top.
Remove from heat, and leave in covered pot until ready to fill. Blend the mustard to desired level of smoothness, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Soften jar lids in hot but not boiling water for 5 minutes. Bring mustard to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced by one third.
If mustard reduces too much to pour, add 1 tbsp water to thin. Fill jars with mustard to ½-inch from rim. Remove air bubbles and wipe rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Add soften lids and sterilized rims. Tighten rims to fingertip tight. Place filled and sealed jars in large pot of still hot water. They should be covered by at least 1 inch of water still. Bring pot a boil and boil jars for 10 minutes (start timer once water returns to a boil). Remove from water and cool 12 hours. Refrigerate after opening. The acidity of the mustard will mellow by three days after opening.