Thursday, 16 July 2015

Cutting The Mustard

I blame my lovely daughters for rekindling my interest in mustard – I grew up with just one sort of mustard – proper English Mustard, made by Colmans since 1814, with golden fields of the stuff growing all round me in East Anglia. The phrase ‘to cut the mustard’ is believed to come from there – in the old days, was cut by hand with scythes, in the same way as corn. The crop could grow up to six feet high and it was very arduous work, requiring extremely sharp tools. When blunt they "would not cut the mustard". [find out more mustard factoids at the Mustard Museum in Norwich] In my kitchen currently, there are three different pots in use …


  1. My original English, a dry powder which can be mixed up with cold water to a paste [it is recommended you leave it to stand for 10 minutes to let flavour develop] This is the traditional accompaniment to Roast Beef. The powder perks up all sorts of other salad dressings and recipes [the Colman’s website even suggests in in desserts like pies and cookies] It is hot and spicy! mostly made from white mustard seeds
  2. Dijon Mustard – made from the brown mustard seeds and white wine or verjuice [juice of unripe grapes] is milder. It does not have protected status, so can be made anywhere, not just Dijon in France. Most British supermarket Dijon is made in Norwich! Liz uses this quite a bit in cooking. I am afraid that I developed this bad habit of retrieving the jars she kept buying for the kitchen cupboard at Cornerstones and bringing them home with me. Sorry, Liz!
  3. Swedish Mustard – this is mild and creamy, more like American Hot Dog Mustard. Ingredients include mustard seeds plus spirit vinegar, a touch of alcohol and ground aromatic spices [cinnamon, coriander, cardamom and cloves] Last time I was at Steph’s we had this. It was delicious with the pytt y panna {Swedish Hash] she had made for supper. On my next trip to IKEA I bought my own squeezy pot of the stuff.


I like wholegrain too, it adds texture to things, and I was also given some ‘champagne mustard’ [like Dijon but with champagne instead of white wine]

The phrase ‘Keen as Mustard’ relates to another early brand of mustard. No longer around in the UK, but well known in Australia.

Do you use mustard in cooking? or just as an accompaniment? Which is your favourite variety?


  1. I always put a spoonful of dijon mustard in cheese sauce. Gives it a lovely flavour.

  2. I use Dijon mustard in a vinaigrette, but not keen on the English variety.

  3. The powdered stuff is a key ingredient in my best cheese scone recipe - but rarely used apart from that. The tin I have is well past the best before date, but it still does the job and has a good kick to it!

  4. Lots of people seem to be adding it to cheese scones and sauces. I must confess to being careful to photograph MY tin so the BB date didn't show - as mine has 'expired' - but it still works.

  5. I always add a teaspoon of English mustard to my Yorkshire pudding mix, gives just a hint more flavour.

    1. Now THAT is a tip I had not come across before. Thank you!

  6. I use the powdered a lot and mix it with water in the good old fashioned way and in anything cheesey. I got fed up with buying tiny little tins which is all they have in supermarkets so sent for a giant 1lb tin - should last a while and much cheaper

  7. Colman's was my step-father's favorite; I tend to prefer Dijon mustard. Never knew how the phrase originated until I read your post. Very interesting.


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