Dry Mustard Vs. Mustard

by Carol Butler

    Both dry mustard and prepared mustard are made from the seeds of the mustard plant. These round little seeds come in a variety of colors ranging from yellow and white to black and brown, all with varying degrees of flavor. The lighter colored seeds are commonly ground to form the spice known as dry or ground mustard; spicy mustard condiments get their zip from the more pungent brown seeds, while milder hot dog mustards rely on the yellow or white mustard seeds.

    Sold in the spice aisle of most grocery stores, most dry mustard is a combination of white and yellow mustard seeds, ground to a flour-like texture. You can make your own ground mustard by grinding whole seeds with a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or coffee grinder. Whole brown and black mustard seeds usually have a sharper bite when ground and can be harder to find. Look for them in specialty shops that sell Indian food and products.

    Prepared mustard is made by soaking dry mustard powder or whole mustard seeds in vinegar. Other liquids such as white wine, along with spices and other ingredients may also be added to flavor or color the mustard. The spice turmeric is often added to traditional hot-dog mustard to give it a bright, golden hue; whole grains and course-ground seeds are often used to add texture.

    Dry mustard is commonly employed in harmony with other spices to make pungent curries and meat rubs. Wet mustard is also used to flavor meat, either as a marinade or as an ingredient in sauces. When cooking with wet mustard, add to the dish at the end of cooking in order to take advantage of its fullest flavor. When a recipe calls for "mustard" without reference to type, it usually refers to the prepared mustard condiment.

    Keep dry mustard in a cool dark place away from heat sources such as stove vents or ovens. Heat “wakes up” spices and although your dry mustard won’t go bad, it can lose its pungency over time. Once opened or after making, store wet prepared mustard in the refrigerator, covered, and use sooner rather than later. If a dry crust develops on top of the mustard, you can scrape it off and still enjoy the mustard. The longer it is stored, the more it will lose its flavor.

    About the Author

    For more than 10 years, Carol Butler has run a small, off-grid furniture business with her husband and is a regular contributor to the Edible community of magazines. As staff writer for RichLife Advisors, she covers financial planning and other industry-related topics. She holds a B.F.A. in theater arts.

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