The term mustard is a bit confusing as it refers both to the plant (and its seeds) as well as a commercial product available on grocery store shelves and at restaurants. The mustard plant, is one of the oldest foods consumed by humans and is most definitely Paleo. The commercial product in a jar, unfortunately, is rarely Paleo.
Should I Eat Mustard And Is it Paleo?
If you’ve only consumed commercial mustard from a jar or squeeze bottle your entire life, you really don’t know what you’re missing when it comes to homemade mustard. Making mustard at home is not only simple but also gives you a lot of artistic latitude when it comes to adding and combining subtle flavors.
Basic mustard consists of three ingredients: mustard seeds, water, and salt. That’s it! This Paleo condiment is perfectly suitable for a wide range of dishes, especially to flavor meat.
If you found a mustard plant and collected its seeds and popped one or two in your mouth, you would immediately spit it out. The seeds have a special coating that are designed to deter animals from eating them. The reason why mustard (the condiment) has such a delicious taste is that the seeds must be soaked in water for a while before you can consume them. A chemical reaction occurs which takes about 24 hours and transforms the bitter taste into the tangy mustard flavor loved by millions around the world.
Nutritional Value of Mustard
If you make your own mustard at home using just mustard seeds, water and salt, the only nutritional value of any note is the sodium. Most commercial brands of mustard list about 55g of sodium per serving so your own homemade versions may vary slightly from that.
Health Benefits of Mustard
Mustard is famous for its healing properties. Long before modern medicine, people would make poultices or wraps with mustard and apply them to cuts, scrapes and other exterior injuries. Mustard poultices have also been used to reduce muscle pain, skin infections, and itching as well as rashes and irritation. People have also been using mustard mixes to treat respiratory ailments including bronchitis and asthma as inhaling the vapors of mustard helps relax and open up the airways.
When eaten, mustard contains a number of trace minerals and micronutrients. Mustard seeds themselves are considered a “superfood” and contain selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and vitamin B1. Mustard is also good for treating infections as it is a natural antibiotic similar to its cousins: onions, leeks and garlic.
Mustard seeds are also rich in antioxidant ingredients and many people consider them to have anti-cancer properties.
Where to Buy Mustard
Unfortunately, most commercial mustards rely on a host of chemicals, artificial flavors and sweeteners in order to sell their product more cheaply. It is possible to find Paleo mustard but you’ll have to scan the ingredients very carefully. If you see anything besides mustard seeds, water, and salt, don’t buy it. Sometimes, the fancier brands, especially ones touting “whole grain” mustard are often the simplest and therefore Paleo compliant.
How to Make Homemade Paleo Mustard
The basic recipe for plain mustard is as follows:
- Using either ground or whole mustard seeds, or a combination of both, mix them with an equal part water
- Add a pinch of salt (optional)
- Allow to set for 24 hours
It is absolutely essential that you give your mustard time to change the chemical compound in the seeds. If you taste it right after you make it, it will have an incredibly bitter and unpleasant taste.
Ground mustard seeds will result in a very smooth and creamy mustard that resembles all of the popular store brands. Mixing in a few whole seeds won’t change the flavor but will give your mustard a heartier and richer mouthfeel that many people enjoy.
Additional ingredients that many Paleo people enjoy adding to their mustard include:
- Turmeric (the spice)
- Lemon juice
- Black pepper
- Fresh (chopped) basil or parsley
- Apple or other fruit juice
Once you get familiar with making your own mustard, you can mix and match your own Paleo ingredients to come up with novel and interesting flavors. The sky is really the limit when it comes to mustard!
To keep your mustard fresh for longer, keep it refrigerated or chilled.