Yellow Mustard Seed
Most people would be surprised to learn that yellow mustard isn’t yellow. The white herb powder is made yellow in the prepared condiment by the addition of turmeric. Dijon mustard is the condiment without the turmeric but with a relatively high concentration of mustard flour. Bordeaux mustard contains vinegar, sugar, and tarragon, and Meaux mustard is made with from mustard seeds that have been crushed rather than ground. The word mustard comes from the Latin “mustum ardems” meaning “burning must,” or a spicy combination of mustard (burning) and freshly squeezed grape juice (must).
Yellow mustard is a flowering plant in the same family as brown or black mustard, wasabi, watercress, horseradish, and arugula, sharing a hot and pungent group of chemicals known as isothiocyanates. The isothiocyanates act as defense system against grazing animals by releasing burning chemicals when the plant is chewed. They destroy animal tissues, and they would also destroy the tissues of the plant except that they are stored in the plant in a different form that is only activated when the plant is disturbed. Mustard can be made from whole seeds or the pre-ground seeds, called mustard flour. Making mustard form the whole seeds takes time because the seeds have to soak as the distinctly “mustardy” flavor matures over several days. Mustard made from mustard flour is nearly instant but very hot. Mustard made from the pre-ground seeds, called mustard flour, is nearly instant. It is also quite hot.