Sinapsis Hirta, Brassica juncea, Brassica nigra
The name 'mustard' applies to a number of plants in the family Brassicaceae, although the three listed above are the most commonly used. The history of mustard cultivation goes back to pre-historic times, although it's not possible to accurately trace the history of the different varieties, as available records do not refer to the species as differentiated in modern times.
Sinapis hirta, known as white mustard grows wild in North Africa, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe. Brassica juncea originates from the foothills of the Himalayas and is known as oriental mustard. Brassica nigra, called black mustard, is thought to be native to Southern Europe.
Cultivation is widespread, with Canada and Nepal together providing more than half of the world's requirements. These days cultivation of Brassica nigra has declined as it isn't so suited to mechanised farming.
With it's pungent burning taste mustard is popular all round the world, especially on cold meats. In England the mustard pot had it's traditional place between the salt and pepper dispensers, an essential addition to the Sunday roast. Mustard flour would be mixed with water a short time before the meal to produce a smooth paste with the maximum possible fieryness. While this ritual is still observed by some nowadays you're much more likely to find mustard in a jar or a tube.
Over in the US pre-mixed 'American Mustard' is a sauce with less of the spice in it, very mild by English standards. Famously it's added to the hot dog at the point of purchase, although whether mustard rather than ketchup should grace the hamburger appears to be something of a divisive issue.
In Asia mustard seeds are often used in cooking, particularly for pickled fruit and vegetables. Typically the seeds are fried in oil until they pop at the beginning of the recipe.
While it's generally considered to be a healthy and nutritious component of a diet mustard is also listed as an allergen, which extreme reactions being possible for the rare individuals who are sensitve to it.
|Martin Hoxworth - Group Sales Manager: martincamstar.co.uk|