Today I’m going to teach you how to make mustard – how cool is that?  This week”s show offers a wonderful diversion from mainstream canning.  I will also introduce you to the most awesome recipe I’ve ever found for making your own soft pretzels – That’s no small thing coming from this Philadelphia native where soft pretzels are a cultural and culinary staple.

Whether yellow, spicy brown, Dijon, or whatever, a slathering of mustard has become a favorite for people around the world.  Making it myself is something I’ve wanted to try for the past couple of years.  This year was my first attempt.  I tried three different recipes and learned a lot.  You will too.  Plus, this is a great holiday gift idea!

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Thanks for listening and all your wonderful support!
Links to products referenced in today’s podcast —

Bulk Mustard Seed Brown Whole, Certified Organic, 1 lb. package (Amazon affiliate link)

Mr. Coffee grinder to grind your seeds (Amazon affiliate link)

This compost bin is very similar to the one I use and like. (Amazon affiliate link)

Recipes referenced in today’s podcast —

An excellent recipe for Bavarian Soft Pretzels from The Foodie Army Wife

Fresh Preserving’s* Oktoberfest Beer Mustard

Spicy brown mustard, the one I liked the most.  Here’s the ingredients:

1/3 c brown mustard seeds

1/4 c white vinegar

2T water

1T sugar

1/4 t salt


Grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle (takes 3-7 minutes) or a spice grinder.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Refrigerate for about a day.  Makes 3/4 cup.

Yellow Mustard recipe (Even two weeks later the vinegar in this one remains overpowering)

*Editorial correction:  In the show I incorrectly referred to the source as the Fresh Preserving Store’s website.  This site is simply but is also run by the Ball Jar people.

Life in the North Woods: Garden Talk / Canning Talk

Night time temps are already below freezing for us in Minnesota and it only gets worse from here for a bit before it gets better.  As for me, I’m on my way to Rome later this month and, hopefully, will be sitting in St Peter’s square as part of the weekly general audience the pope has each week.  How cool is that!   With both of my parents now passed – dad just this past spring – I decided to spend Thanksgiving week in Rome.  Because no one really travels from the US to Europe that week I got a killer deal.  Keep your fingers crossed I can get one of those tix.  I should know by the next show.

My refrigerator broke this past week – Ugh!

  • At least $100 in lost food – meats, fish, veggies, etc.  Plus that expensive stuff you don’t have to purchase very often like mayo, olives, some cheeses!
  • Second time this year – 4 days w/out power in June, now this.
  • About 15 jars of canned goods of one kind or another lost.
  • The hardest part was losing some of the wonderful soups I make – believe me, I’ll be experimenting more with canning soups this winter.  That should be pretty fun, don’t you think?
  • The good news is a new fridge got delivered and it’s super nice – yay!  I also did get forced to clean out some stuff that had become a bit, shall we say, “dated.
  • The other piece of good news is that it happened while I was here to deal with all the dripping water and overall mess.

I made more of awesome apple cider jelly this weekend. I first introduced you to that recipe in Episode 17.  Since the fridge failed, there was no way I was going to let that great apple cider go to waste.  Turned out great!

Otherwise, my garden’s been put to rest for the winter.  That’s different than what I normally do but I had a compost problem to deal with.  My compost bin was way too heavy and full and I didn’t want to go into winter like that.  So I tore up the garden and turned the contents of the full compost bin into the soil.  Having that extra room in the now-empty compost bin really helped with all the stuff I lost from the failed fridge!

Amazon doesn’t carry the exact kind of compost bin I have but I put links in the show notes to a version that’s pretty similar.  I’m actually thinking of getting a second one because I’m always adding to the one and it needs time to ripen.  Again, this compost bin is very similar to the one I use and like. (Amazon affiliate link)

So we are in what I call our period of “quiet expectation” – The frenzy of the growing season past, you know something’s coming, experience tells you it’s big, you just don’t know exactly when.  But we did have our first snow this week.

Random Tips & Tricks    

FDA Bans Trans Fats – Yay!

Trans fats are used in processed food and in restaurants because they are cheap to use, and can help improve the texture, shelf life or flavor of foods.  But these things are bad – really bad.  Scientists say there are no health benefits to trans fats.  In fact, they are the worst kind of fat for your heart, even worse than saturated fats.  Personally, I think they may also cause heartburn.  My experience.

Do you like red wine but can’t drink a whole bottle at one sitting?  Use 8 oz jars for storing red wine.

Main Event – Making Your Own Mustard

Mustard.  Super easy to make, yet oh-so-original!  I mean, how many people do you know who make mustard?  I know none!

But here’s the insider’s secret:  It’s super easy.  Again, mustard seed, salt, vinegar, water, and maybe some sugar is all you need.  Plus, the actual prep is pretty darn easy too!

OK, so now you know the secret:  it’s super easy to make mustard.  But, shhh … because you are definitely going to stand out among your friends with this one.

As a reminder, here and on the website I attempt to share safe preserving methods. However, I make no promises. You alone are responsible for your health. Be aware of current safety recommendations.

Whether yellow, spicy brown, Dijon, or whatever, a slathering of mustard has become a favorite for people around the world.

Mustard has a long history.

Mustard is a Latin word.  In ancient Rome, the seeds from mustard plants were pounded with unfermented grape juice (must), making a fiery hot sauce.

Mustard was used in ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece.   Supposedly one of the popes of the 14th century had a private mustard maker.   (Riff on that).

These many centuries later, mustard is popular around the world.  In Europe mustards are generally brown, and much bolder in flavor that the yellow mustards so popular here in the US.  But that’s changing as more of the brown and more robust mustards are being made here these days.  Btw, Wikipedia has a lot of great information if you want to go deeper in your knowledge of mustard.

It turns out mustard is part of the cabbage family – I did not know that.  And we’re using the seeds from these plants, actually.

For our purposes, there are 3 types of mustard seed to think about:  

  1. Black mustard seeds, which have the strongest flavor.  These are widely used across India.
  2. Brown seeds, which are also strong, but not as strong as the black, ncreasing in popularity because the plant is easier to handle than the more than 7 foot tall black seed plants.
  3. White, or yellow, mustard seeds, native to the Mediterranean region, are the mildest of the three.

The mustards I made used the brown and yellow mustard seeds.  I made three versions so far –

  1. Recipe from Fresh Preserving site (the Ball Jar people).  It uses beer and is safe for canning.  But there is a catch I discovered which I’ll tell you about later.
  2. The second is a simple brown mustard recipe I found.  I liked it and found myself eating more of that than the first one.  In fact, it’s all gone now.
  3. The third one is a basic yellow mustard recipe, you know, like you would find widely available here in the US.

A long list of possible ways you can make mustard.  Here’s the cool part – once I teach you the basics you just may be hooked to try your hand at a lot of them!  Here’s some examples to think about –

  • Yellow mustard – most common in the US.
  • Beer mustard – uses beer, like the name says.
  • Dijon mustard – Ah, yes, it’s easy to make yourself a nice Dijon mustard too!
  • Whole-grain mustard – that means you don’t ground the seeds up so much, giving better texture to the end product.
  • Honey mustard – like the name implies, it has added honey.
  • Fruit mustards – don’t know much about this one yet.  I do know it involved fruit (duh!).
  • Spirited mustards – they have added alcoholic spirits, beers, ales, whisky, or cognac.

Before I go down my list of things I learned, keep one lasting impression in mind – It feels like there is LOTS of room for experimentation in making a mustard; that is, so long as you’re not canning it.  If canning, you do need to stick to the program of only using tested recipes like the one from Fresh Preserving Store.   Otherwise, storage and shelf life of mustard offers lots of flexibility.

According to Wikipedia,

  • “Because of its antibacterial properties, mustard does not require refrigeration; it will not grow mold, mildew, or harmful bacteria.
  • Unrefrigerated mustard will lose pungency more quickly, and should be stored in a tightly sealed, sterilized container in a cool, dark place.
  • Mustard can last indefinitely, though it may dry out, lose flavor, or brown from oxidation.
  • Mixing in a small amount of wine or vinegar will often revitalize dried out mustard.
  • Some types of prepared mustard stored for a long time may separate, which can be corrected by stirring or shaking. If stored for a long time, unrefrigerated mustard can acquire a bitter taste.”

Here’s what I learned through my own mustard-making efforts –

  • I still feel quite new at this.  In other words, I don’t feel like I’ve hit on a recipe I love or set of techniques I’m happy with yet.  So here’s what I do know, that you too will need to sort through as you get started making mustard yourself –
  • It all starts with grinding up the seeds, adding the water/vinegar and salt/sugar per recipes.
  • Black seeds = hottest mustard, brown spicy, yellow less so.  I only used brown & yellow and they were plenty spicy – and I like spicy things so there’s no need to jump right to black seeds if you’re looking for a kick.  Try the other ones first.
  • Remember, I made three mustards so far:  The Fresh Preserving Oktoberfest Mustard recipe one, which I also canned.  A brown mustard one which is already gone.  And a yellow mustard one.
  • I found myself eating the brown one the most.  Again, it’s already gone.  I like the yellow one the least.  It feels like it has too much vinegar.  I do like the Fresh Preserving Store one but can taste the added sugar which I don’t personally like.

This is really important:  When first made mustard tastes horrible!  It’s bitter, overpowering, unpleasant.   Also, if boiled it smells bad.  Not terrible, just unpleasant.  Your kitchen won’t smell so good that day.   

  • Mustard mellows a few days after you first make it.  The ones I made weren’t even approachable for two days.  Now, 2-3 weeks later they are much more pleasant.
  • This is really important, part 2:  Canned mustard, at least the one I canned, tastes as bitter and unpleasant when the jar is first opened as the day you made it.  If you can it and give away, as opposed to just giving them nice unsealed jars, make sure to warn your recipients that you know what you’re doing – it just tastes bitter and unpleasant when that sealed jar is first opened.  Note:  This is what I experienced.  Maybe it gets mellower in a sealed jar over time.  But I found a few weeks after canning it was still really bitter.

Here’s some other things to consider as you give this a try –

  • Some recipes say let the seeds sit in water for a day or two.   Others call for grinding up the seeds first.  I tried both.  I found a coffee grinder/spice mill to be especially helpful.  I don’t have a view on which approach is better.
  • Some recipes say boil, some don’t.  Again, I did both.
  • Some recipes say use mustard powder as well as seeds.  So I bought mustard powder.  Half way through I realized, hey, I can make the seeds into a powder myself using my spice mill/coffee grinder.  You could save money that way.
  • Some recipes say cold water, some say hot.  Supposedly, HOT water makes for milder mustard, COLD makes spicier.  I’m just not sure myself because I don’t remember what temp I used.
  • The Fresh Preserving Oktoberfest Mustard recipe calls for beer.  I used a simple domestic, Rolling Rock.  Hey, I remember it from being younger living in PA so I kept it simple.  I’m sure other beers, wines, or liquors will effect flavor so you’ll have to experiment.
  • If you’re using a recipe like the Fresh Preserving one that calls for boiling the mustard, be aware this stuff is pretty thick.  It spatters too.  That’s probably the only place in the whole process that can be messy so proceed accordingly.
  • 4 oz jars may be ideal for gift-giving.  Folks lucky enough to be in my circle this year are getting a jar of apple cider jelly and a jar of some kind of mustard I figure out by then.

Where do you get the seeds? 

Definitely not the spice section of your typical grocery store, that’s for sure.  Insanely expensive there.  I got mine at an Indian foods market in my town.  Super cheap there.  I’ll also include an affiliate link in the show notes for you to get them at Amazon if you’d like.

  • Mustard can be made in really small batches which is great for both convenience and experimentation.
  • Only can any mustard in the traditional sense of boiling water baths if using a tested, safe recipe.  For example, one recipe I found uses flour.  I definitely wouldn’t can that because the flour may make it unsafe.

Listener Questions

Jackie in Stone Harbor wants to try making and canning cranberry sauce for the holidays as opposed to buying that canned garbage they crank out at the supermarkets.  She asked how hard it is, recipes she can try, etc.


Canning Season Facebook page almost done  – Yay!

Some of you said you’d like to support the show but don’t need any more canning supplies or things from my other affiliates.  Guess what?  I learned that any time you click on any Amazon link here on this site AND make a purchase of anything shortly thereafter, I get credit for the sale.  Wanted to make sure I shared that with you.


When it comes to making mustard, I say give it a go and see what happens. There’s a lot of latitude for you to experiment so long as you’re not canning the jars.  But you could end up with some very nice jars of mustard that don’t need to be processed but would still make wonderful gifts.

As for the pretzels, well, all I can say is give the recipe a try.  You may love it as much as I did.

So have fun and tell me how it goes!

Before You Go