Friday, February 14, 2014

Home-grown, home-made mustard

Almost exactly a year ago, our dear friends Morag, Louisa, and Huon came to visit. On a whim, we made a garden bed and sowed sunflowers and red mustard, just because we had the seeds hanging around.

Almost a year later, we cracked open a jar of the mustard we made from the seeds we saved from the mustard we grew. It was a massive, epic effort, all for just 2 jars of mustard, but it was super-fun, kind of novel, and freakin' delicious, in the way that only home grown things (involving a lot of love, sweat and dirt) can be.
If you'd also like to undertake a mustard-growing-and-making adventure, just for the fun of it, here's what we did.

First, we made a big delicious breakfast which we ate with our dear friends, then set to work digging out and making a little garden bed. We probably (though I can't really remember) dug in some manure and/or compost, then sowed the whole area pretty thickly with a packet of mustard seeds and a couple of handfuls of sunflower seed.

When it all came up, we enjoyed the sunflowers, ate the mustard leaves, and sold the excess to our local co-op. 

Mustard (it's the purple one) on its way to the co-op with its friends, kale and ruby chard
Mustard leaves, if you've never had them, are a little spicy and when they're big, a little tough, so if you want them raw in a salad, pick them tiny. When they're bigger, they're delicious sauteed with some silverbeet, or finely chopped and stirred through a barley pumpkin risotto. YUM!!! They're super-easy to grow and pretty hardy, and very very giving for months and months, even if you don't want the hooha of saving the seeds, so they're well worth growing. They also self-seed really well, so you'll have a pretty constant supply once you get them going in your garden.

Once the mustards started flowering, we ate less of the leaves, because they got a bit tough, but enjoyed the flowers (the bees did too!) and the amazing colour of the foliage.
Purdy. If you look closely you can see the baby seed pods forming along the flower stems
Mustard seeds like rocket, so we waited for the little pods of seeds to get big and start to dry off, then we picked them all, hung them up to dry some more, then stuffed them into some leftover feed bags (101 uses, I tell you...). We then jumped around on the bags to break open the pods and let all the tiny seeds out.

Once the seeds are out, it's time to winnow. This is actually kind of fun, and good to do with the kids, though it took a long time. I made sure to do it over an area of the garden where I wouldn't mind mustard growing, because I sure spilt a few seeds...

Then, once you have your seeds (you'll be amazed by how few there are...) it's time to make some mustard!! I used the recipe in The Gourmet Farmer Deli Book (bit of a fave 'round these parts), which is super simple: soak your precious mustard seeds in white wine vinegar overnight, puree half the soaked seeds, then mix the puree, the whole seeds and some salt and the juice of a lemon. Seal in sterilised jars and keep in a cool dark spot for a month. It. Is. Delicious. Even if it was a ridiculous amount of work for 2 jars of mustard. It was all fun, and ultimately super-yummy, so who cares, right?

Goes real nice on some sourdough with slices of Bega tasty

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