Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Electric Beer and Mustard Test

Sunday night I decided to give this mustard-making business a go. The two ingredients you need for mustard are mustard seed and liquid. I wanted to get an idea for the basic flavors I'm dealing with, so I made four small test batches: yellow mustard seed with beer (our North Kilttown Scottish Ale, to be specific); yellow mustard with cider vinegar; brown mustard with beer; and brown mustard with vinegar.

My procedure was pretty simple: I took one tablespoon of seeds and soaked them in one tablespoon of liquid for two hours. After the two hours I added a little more liquid so that you could see liquid at the top of the seeds (the seeds soaked up liquid--especially the yellow ones--so after a couple hours it didn't look like there was any liquid in the glasses). I then ground the seeds. The volume of seeds was so small that our small food processor wouldn't work. I tried putting the mixture in a zip-loc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin but that didn't work too well either. Eventually I used the flat end of a meat pounder to crush the seeds in a zip-loc bag. That seemed to work well, though hopefully when I up the quantities I can use an actual food processor.

Last night I again added more liquid to get the mixture to roughly the consistency of ketchup. It's recommended you let it age at least a couple days so the flavors can blend, so tonight (two nights later) I decided to do a tasting with Leah. (As you can see in the picture above, I decided to pair my mustard with some Half Acre Magnus Schwarzbier; an awesome brew despite the fact they spell it "Schwartz," which would not please my old German professor.) Here are our tasting notes on each:

Yellow mustard seeds with beer:

Leah- "Tastes somewhat like rottenness, but with a mustardy undertone."
Me- "Kind of bitter and flavorless up front. You get a little mustard heat in the finish, but otherwise it's rather bland."

Brown mustard seeds with beer:

Leah- "Mild but noticeably mustardy, with a hint of heat though it is still not at all spicy."
Me- "Horseradish-like brown mustard flavor; kind of mellow but still noticeable as mustard."

Brown mustard seeds with cider vinegar:

Leah- "A fairly typical-tasting spicy mustard. The spice is noticeable but not overwhelming. The texture is really good."
Me- "Initially it has a tart, sour mustard flavor; after you swallow you get some noticeable mustard heat."

Yellow mustard seeds with cider vinegar:

Leah- "Quite vinegary, with the mustard taste coming through a bit after the vinegar. Still has a decent amount of heat, but it's overwhelmed by the vinegar taste."
Me- "This one tastes the most like yellow mustard. It's tart like the brown, but it seems to bring out the mustard flavor more. It has more heat and pungency up front, but lacks the slow burn of the brown mustard."

A couple thoughts in response to the notes above... First, as I mentioned earlier, the yellow mustard seemed to soak up more liquid, which is why I think the yellow mustard with beer tasted so weird and the yellow mustard so vinegary. I'm thinking if we do something with predominantly yellow seeds we may want to add some water to whatever liquid we use if it's too thick. Second, according to this site introducing acidity will stop the formation of heat, so if I want really hot mustard I should use water first and then thin it out with vinegar (or any other acidic liquid) later to lock in the appropriate level of heat. That may be a fun thing to experiment with later.

For now, it seems that beer and yellow mustard isn't too good of a combination by itself. For a mild mustard, perhaps initially soaking the mustard seeds in yellow and THEN thinning it out with beer may work better. Brown mustard seeds definitely work better with beer, though even then it's fairly mellow. Both brown and yellow mustard seeds have more of a kick with cider instead of beer.

A good start to our mustard-making experiments. Look for more to come!


Anonymous Brian said...

Great stuff, keep it coming. If you can nail down a solid recipe I am done buying mustard from the store.

8:40 AM, January 27, 2010  

Post a Comment

<< Home