Mustards are species in the genera Brassica and Sinapis, producing small mustard seeds. The mustard seeds can be used as a spice, and by grinding and mixing them with water, vinegar or other liquids, are turned into the condiment known as mustard. Mustard oil can also derived from the seeds, and the leaves can be eaten as mustard greens. Mustard seeds are about 1mm in diameter, and may be yellowish white to black.

White mustard (Brassica hirta/ Sinapis alba) is an annual plant grows wild in North Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe. The yellow flowers of the plant produce hairy seed pods, with each pod containing about six seeds. The seeds are harvested just before the pods becoming ripe and bursting. White mustard seeds are round, 1-1.5 mm in diameter, and color ranging from beige to yellow to light brown. White mustard seeds can be used whole for pickling or toasted for use in dishes. The seeds can be ground and mixed with other ingredients to make a paste or a more standard condiment. White mustard seeds contain sinalbin which is responsible for their pungent taste.

Brown or Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) is native to the foothills of the Himalayas, and has since grown commercially in the UK, Canada, Denmark and the US. It is also known as mustard greens, Chinese mustard and leaf mustard. The leaves, stems and seeds of this mustard are edible. Cultivars of B. juncea are grown as greens, and for the the production of oilseed.

Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) is an annual weedy plant cultivated for its seeds, which are commonly used as a spice. It is native to the southern Mediterranean region of Europe. Black mustard belongs to the same genus as cabbage and is not closely related to white mustard (Sinapis alba), even though they have a similar common name.

Brassica nigra can grow to 0.5 - 3 m tall, with leaves that are covered in tiny hairs. It bears four-petaled, small yellow flowers of about 1 cm across. The small seeds, about 1 mm, are hard and dark brown to black in color. They are flavorful but lack aroma. The spice is generally made from ground seed, with the seed coats removed. Whole seeds are commonly used in Indian cuisine. The seeds are usually thrown into hot oil or ghee after which they pop, releasing a nutty flavor. Black mustard seeds contain a significant amount of fatty oil, which is often used as cooking oil in India. In Ethiopia, black mustard is cultivated as a vegetable in Gondar, Harar, and Shewa. The shoots and leaves are consumed cooked and the seeds used as a spice.

Canada grows 90% of all the mustard seeds for the international market, while Saskatchewan province in Canada produces almost 50% of the world's supply of mustard seeds.

There are many varieties of mustard which come in a wide range of strengths and flavors. The seed type, preparation and ingredients determined the basic taste and heat of the mustard. Black mustard seed is the hottest type. The temperature of the water, vinegar, or other liquid mixed with the ground seeds determines the strength of a prepared mustard. Hotter liquids are more hostile to the strenth-producing compounds. Hot mustard is made with cold water, while using hot water results in milder mustard.

Basic mustards are the most commonly consumed and often the simplest of the mustard varieties, including mustard seed, dry mustard powder, deli-style mustard, Dijon mustard, stone-ground mustard, whole-grain mustard, and yellow mustard.

In the United States, brown or deli-style mustard is generally spicier than yellow mustard and is commonly used. The seeds are coarsely ground, giving it a speckled brownish yellow appearance.

Dijon mustard originated in 1856, when Jean Naigeon of Dijon substituted verjuice, the acidic "green" juice of not-quite-ripe grapes, for vinegar in the traditional mustard recipe. Most Dijon mustard is manufactured outside of Dijon, and contains both white wine and burgundy wine.

Yellow mustard is a very mild mustard, colored bright yellow by the inclusion of turmeric. It is the most commonly used mustard In the United States and Canada, where it is simply known as mustard. It is usually served with hot dogs, sandwiches, and hamburgers. Yellow mustard is a key ingredient in many potato salads, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings, and often rubbed on barbecue meat prior to applying a dry rub, to form a crust, called bark, on the meat.

Prepared mustard is generally sold at retail in glass jars or plastic bottles although in Europe it is often marketed in metal, squeezable tubes. Mustard does not require refrigeration as it contains antibacterial properties, and it will not grow mold, mildew or harmful bacteria. Mustard can last indefinitely, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation. Mustard is used as an ingredient in mayonnaise, vinaigrette, marinades and barbecue sauce, base for salad dressing, and a popular accompaniment to hot dogs, pretzels, and Bratwurst. Dry mustard, typically sold in cans, is used in cooking and can be mixed with water to become prepared mustard.

Indian Mustard Flower (Brassica juncea (L.) Czern)Indian Mustard Flower (Brassica juncea (L.) Czern)
Author: India Photoblog (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Mustard greensMustard greens
Author: Magnus Manske (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)

Dijon mustardDijon mustard
Author: BMRR (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Yellow mustardYellow mustard
Author: David (public domain)

Black mustard seedsBlack mustard seeds
Author: Sanjay Acharya (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Yellow mustard seedsYellow mustard seeds
Author: Sanjay Acharya (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Brown mustard seedsBrown mustard seeds
Author: Jonathunder (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

Mustard oilMustard oil
Author: Glane23 (Copyright)

 Index of 690 Plants in The Flowering Garden

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