Mustard-Making-art – 12/7/03
"Making Medieval-Style Mustards" by Pani Jadwiga Zajaczkowa.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Making Medieval-Style Mustards
A class in the Society for Creative Anachronism by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa
Mustard sauces are among the most mentioned sauces in period food texts and cookbooks, both medieval and Renaissance. Mustard seeds also show up in late period pickle recipes and in recipes where an extra 'bite' is wanted.
Mustard was cultivated and eaten in Rome, and was known in France at the time of Charlemagne, and in England and Germany by the 12th century (1100's). The Christian Bible speaks of one who has 'as much faith as a mustard seed' being able to 'remove mountains'; when you consider that the tiny black mustard seeds grow into 6-foot-high plants sturdy enough for birds to nest in them in a single summer, you can understand why! The yellow mustard plants you see in fields in the spring are a relative of mustard, Brassica Sinapstrum, also called charlock.
Rosetta Clarkson, in Green Enchantment: The Golden Age of Herbs and Herbalists, says that some monasteries actually had a monk called the 'mustardarius' whose duties included mixing the mustard sauce for the community. Mustard sauce could be used on meat or on fish, and in the days when you ate fish three times a week at least, and people ate a lot of cold, pre-roasted meat, no wonder it was popular! Le Menagier de Paris suggests mustard sauce with wild boar, beef tongue, and lots of different fish, including eel, shad, loach, lampreys, cod, stockfish, and whiting. Anne Wilson, in Food and Drink in Britain, says, "Mustard was eaten with fresh and salt meat, brawn, fresh fish and stockfish , and indeed was considered the best sauce for any dish. As in Roman times mustard seed was pounded in the mortar and moistened with vinegar. French mustard had powdered spices added to it, while Lombard mustard was made up thick with honey, wine and vinegar, and thinned for use with wine."
The humoral theory of medicine also accounts for mustard's popularity. Medieval people believed that everyone and everything possessed qualities of moistness/dryness and cold/heat which needed to be kept in balance for health. The cold, moist humor was referred to as phlegm, and excess of phlegm was considered a common hazard, especially in winter. The heat and 'dryness' of mustard could correct this excess.
Mustards were so popular a sauce in period because they possessed moderate heat, and therefore were good with cold dishes such as brawn, [boiled] beef, and fish such as cod. Medieval doctors and health-hobbyists like Platina suggested it to counteract 'cold' foods and 'cold' conditions. It was drunk and gargled with in wine for sore throats; Dioscorides (a first-century Greek) suggested 'mustard plasters' to help with 'pain of long continuance' (probably on the same principle as Tiger Balm). But indications in books such as Le Menagier de Paris treat mustard as the basic sauce, except for salt, to be provided (much as we provide ketchup in everyday cooking today). Sometimes, the higher ranks of the tables got a variety of sauces while the lower ranks only got mustard sauce.
Hildegarde of Bingen says "Mustard is of a very hot and somewhat dry nature... Its seed flavors other foods." She didn't approve of it for sick people, but said, "One who likes to eat mustard should pour over it wine which he has heated. Consumed in this way, it does not harm sick people. Its injuriousness is removed by the heat of the wine. If one does not have wine, he may pour cold vinegar on it. Eaten in this way it is not harmful. If it is not tempered by wine or vinegar, it is not good for human consumption."
Platina says, "It is considered very useful to the stomach, drives out ills in the lungs, lightens a chronic cough, makes spitting easy, is given food to those who are gasping, purges senses and head from sneezes, softens the bowels, stimulates menstruation and urine, and cuts phlegm. When smeared on an ailment of the body, it shows the force of its burning."
Mustard sauces were generally made with ground mustard seeds-- black was considered better than white-- (sometimes mixed with other spices such as pepper), moistened with 'wine must', vinegar or wine. Honey or sugar was also added in a number of recipes; breadcrumbs and raisins appear in some recipes. (Platina says, "If you want it sweet, add sweet things; if sour, sour.")
Mustard sauces were constructed in different ways depending on what they were to be served on, and the season of the year. Foods which the humoral system considered 'hotter' and hotter seasons got less 'hot' and 'dry' ingredients (spices, wine) and cooler ingredients (verjuice).
Nowadays we buy mustard flour, ground and sifted/bolted in the same manner as wheat flour, but Sarah Garland in The complete book of herbs and spices, and Rosetta Clarkson in Magic Gardens: A modern chronicle of herbs and savory seeds, say that the modern process for bolting mustard flour was not invented until the 18th century (1700's). I
Instead, you could buy mustard meal in some places: Plat's Delights for Ladies says: "It is usuall in Venice to sell the meal of Mustard in their markets as we doe flower and meale in England: this meale, by the addition of vinegar, in two or three daies becommeth exceeding good mustard." (Apparently he liked his mustard mild too.) But mostly you ground it at home, either with a mortar & pestle or with a mill in later times. You could also buy your mustard sauce ready-made, if you lived in the city: Le Menagier de Paris directs the reader to buy "At the sauce-maker, a quart of cameline for the dinner, and for supper two quarts of mustard."
There is some indication by modern medicine that mustard flour actually retards the growth of food poisoning bacteria such as E. coli, though the addition of a weak vinegar actually slows this down.
From Marx Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch, c. 1581:Brown Mustard Sauce
Brown mustard made up with clear vinegar/ is also good.
English Housewife, Gervase Markham, 1615
"The most general sauce for ordinary wild fowl rosted, as Ducks, Mallard, Widgeon, Teal, Snipe, Sheldrake, Plovers, Puets, Guls, and such like, is only Mustard and Vinegar, or Mustard and Verjuice mixt together; or else an Onion, Water, and Pepper..."
Parkinson, Paradisi in Sole
"Garden Mustard ... The seede hereof grownd between two stones, fitted for the purpose, and called a Querne, with some good vinegar added unto it, to make it liquid and running, is that kinde of mustard that is usually made of all sorts, to serve as sauce both for fish and flesh." p. 502
napolitano" 15th century. Translation by Terence Scully
From the Forme of Cury:
From The Viandier of
century), translated by Terence Scully [Cameline Mustard Sauce]:
From Scappi Cap CCLXXVI,
folio 95, 2nd book.
From http://www.best.com/%7Eddfr/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html">Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin (1553): To make the mustard for dried cod
Take mustard powder, stir into it good wine and pear preserves and put sugar into it, as much as you feel is good, and make it as thick as you prefer to eat it, then it is a good mustard.
From de Nola's Libro de Coch (translated by Brighid)
153. Mustard (124) MOSTAZA
You must take mustard seed, and clean it of the dust and the soil and the stones, and grind it well in a mortar; and when it is ground, strain it through a cloth strainer; and then take the mustard powder and put it in a mortar with a crustless piece of bread soaked in meat broth, and grind it all together; and when it is well-ground, blend it with a little bit of lean broth without fat which is well-salted; and when it is blended in a good manner so that it is not too thin, take honey which is good, and melted on the fire, and cast it in the mortar and stir it well until it is well-mixed, and prepare dishes. Some cast a little vinegar in the broth; you can add peeled, toasted almonds, ground-up with the mustard.
154. French Mustard-- MOSTAZA FRANCESA
You must take a cantaro (125) of the must of wine, either red or white, and grind a dishful of mustard that is select and very good; and after straining it through a sieve or a sifter, grind with it, if you wish: a little cinnamon, and cloves, and ginger, and cast it all, very well-mixed in the mortar, into the cantaro or jar of wine; and with a cane stir it around a long while, so that it mixes with the must; and each day you must stir it with the cane seven or eight times; and you will boil the wine with this mustard; and when the wine has finished boiling, you can eat this mustard. And when you want to take it out to cast it in the dish to eat, first stir it with the cane a little; and this is very good mustard and it will keep all year.
155. Another Very Good French Mustard Which Lasts All Year-- OTRA MOSTAZA FRANCESA MUY BUENA Y DURA TODO EL A„O
Take a caldron which will hold two cantaros, and fill it with red grapes and set it to cook upon the fire until it is reduced by half and there remains half a caldron which is one cantaro; and when the grapes are cooked, remove the scum with a wooden spoon; and stir it now and then with a stick; and strain this must through a clean cloth and cast it into a cantaro; and then cast in the mustard, which should be up to a dishful well-ground, little by little, stirring it with the stick. And each day you should stir with it, four or five times a day; and if you wish, you can grind with the mustard three parts cinnamon, two parts cloves, and one part ginger. This French mustard is very good and lasts all year and is mulberry-colored.
Le Menagier De Paris:
If you wish to provide for keeping mustard a long time do it at wine-harvest
in sweet must. And some say that the must should be boiled. Item, if you want
to make mustard hastily in a village, grind some mustard-seed in a mortar and
soak in vinegar, and strain; and if you want to make it ready the sooner, put
it in a pot in front of the fire. Item, and if you wish to make it properly
and at leisure, put the mustard-seed to soak overnight in good vinegar, then
have it ground fine in a mill, and then little by little moisten it with
vinegar: and if you have some spices left over from making jelly, broth,
hypocras or sauces, they may be ground up with it, and then leave it until it
(Redon's Medieval Kitchen gives a sample redaction of the first recipe and a discussion of mustards in general.)
13th-c. Arabo-Andalusian _Manuscrito anonimo_ gives the following recipe for
The Closet Opened (sir Kenelme Digbie, KT) 1669 To Make Mustard
The best way of making mustard is this: Take of the best mustard seed (which is black) for example a quart. Dry it gently in an oven, and beat it to subtle powder, and serse it. Then mingle well strong wine-vinegar with it, so much that it be pretty liquid, for it will dry with keeping. Put to this a little pepper, beaten small (white is the best) at discretion as about a good pugil and put a good spoonful of sugar to it (which is not to make it taste sweet, but rather, quick, and to help the fermentation) Lay a good onion in the bottom, quartered if you will, and a race (root) of ginger scraped and bruised, and stir it often with a Horseradish root cleansed, which let always lie in the pot till it hath lost its vertue, then take a new one. This will keep long, and grow better for a while. It is not good till after a month, that it have fermented a while. Some think it will be the quicker if the seed be ground with fair water, instead of vinegar, putting store of onions in it.
My Lady Holmsby make her quick fine mustard thus: Choose true mustard seed; dry it in an oven, after the bread is out. Beat and searce it to a most subtle powder. Mingle Sherry-Sack with it (stirring a long time very well, so much as to have it of a fit consistency for mustard) Then put a good quantity of fine sugar to it, as five or six spoonfuls, or more, to a pint of mustard. Stir and incorporate well together. This will keep good a long time. Some do like to put to it a little (but a little) of very sharp wine vinegar.
From An Old Icelandic Medical Miscellany ( Harpestreng-manuscript, Icelandic version supposed to be 15th C., from a lost manuscript of the 13 th C.)
One shall take mustard (seed) and add a fourth part of honey and grind all together with good vinegar. This is good for forty days.
One shall take mustard (seed) and a third of honey and a tenth part of anise and two such of cinnamon. Grind this all with strong vinegar and put it in a cask. This is good for three months.
(1598), p. 32: To make mustard which may be carried in Bals.
*"Take mustard seed & let it soke for the space of two daies, and change the water often, that it may be the whiter..."
From On Good Health and Right Pleasure -- Platina, translated by Milham
Prepared mustard: Add pounded almonds to pounded mustard, which has, however, been softened for two days in frequently changed water so that it has become whiter and milder, and grind again with softened bread crumbs. Then, when it has been soaked with verjuice or sharp vinegar, pass through a sieve into serving dishes. If you want it sweet, add sweet things; if sour, sour. Partly by nature, partly by the way it is made, it warms stomach and liver, reduces the spleen, and stimulates passion.
Red Mustard sauce: Grind in mortar or mill, either separately or all together, mustard, raisins, dates, toasted bread, and a little cinnamon. When it is ground, soak with verjuice or vinegar and a bit of must, and pass through a sieve into serving dishes. This heats less than the one above and stimulates the thirst but does not nourish badly.
Mustard sauce in bits: Mix mustard and well-pounded raisins, a little cinnamon and cloves, and make little balls or bits from this mixture. When they have dried on a board, carry them with you wherever you want. When there is a need, soak in verjuice or vinegar or must. This differs little in nature from those above.
napolitano" 15th century. Translation by Terence Scully
John Evelyn A discourse of Sallets, 1699:
Take the mustard seed, and grind one and a half pints of it with honey, and Spanish oil, and make it into a liquid with vinegar......
To make mustard for the pot, slice some horse-radish, and lay it to soak in vinegar, squeezing it well, and add a lump of sugar and an onion chopt. Use vinegar from this mixture to mix the mustard.
Anonimo Veneziano, Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco (14th/15th c.)
Translated 2002 by Helewyse
de Birkestad (Louise Smithson): http://www.geocities.com/helewyse/libro
á Black/Brown (Brassica Nigra)
á Yellow/White (Sinapis Alba)
á Water (to soak seeds)
á Meat broth
á Egg (1 instance
á horseradish? or onion?
left over from making jelly, broth, hypocras or sauces
á Wine Must
á Crushed Grapes
á Wine (red or white)
á Vinegar (white or red)
á pear preserves (1 instance)
Honeyed mustard seems to be generally called 'lombardy mustard' in the recipes.
The most basic constituent of mustard sauce is mustard seed. Both yellow 'white' mustard (Sinapia Alba) and brown/black mustard were used in period. There appears to be a slight preference for brown/black mustard seed, unless a white-ish sauce was wanted.Modern mustard fanciers can choose between ground yellow mustard 'flour', yellow mustard seeds and brown mustard seeds. Be cautious with the ground mustard flour; it seems to be 'hotter' than ground seeds are! Also, though brown mustard seeds are supposed to be spicier, I've found them more mellow.
Most period mustard sauces also call for mixing the ground seeds with some product of the grape, if not more than one: wine must (crushed grapes) was the most popular, but wine, vinegar, verjuice and even raisins were added on occasion.The yellow seeds were sometimes soaked in water before or after grinding, to make the result 'whiter'. Modern mustards branch out into using beer, ale, or different vinegars.
Honey sweetened mustards seem to be associated with Lombardy, but there are plenty of recipes calling for sweeteners, including honey, sugar, and ground dates or raisins. Oil in mustard sauce seems to be a postperiod development, as the first reference I've found is John Evelyn, though C. Anne Wilson says oil was used in Roman mustards. Platina explicitly leaves the choice to the cook: "If you want it sweet, add sweet things; if sour, sour. "
A wide variety of spices were used, and several notations indicate to me that the exact spice combination may have varied not just from cook to cook but from batch to batch of mustard. Certainly, Le Menagier's thrifty advice to add spices left over from making sauce (does he mean before the sauce is mixed, or what has been strained out when the sauce was sieved?) would result in the use of a wide and differing selection of spices. Cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pepper are among the most popular.
Some mustards were eaten right away, others were aged; some were even 'fermented' as Digby's (below) was. Because of the changes in the flavor related to the release of the essential oils of mustard (so sharp they were used to produce the bioweapon 'mustard gas' in WWI), the flavor and sharpness of the mustard changes over time. Mustard to which no acid (such as vinegar, verjuice, or wine) has been added, fades sooner than that with acid. However, the nature of the acid can vary the aging time: a mustard I made with red wine was not ready to eat for 4 or 5 months, and Nicollo's redaction of Platina's Red Mustard needs to sit for quite some weeks before serving. Fresh mustards, especially if pepper, ginger and/or cloves are included, can supply quite as much 'hot' to the medieval diet as capsicum peppers do to the modern one!
Many mustards need to age from 2 days to 6 weeks. Testing over time will tell you how you like it best. In some cases, mustard sauces that have sat for too long, may well need to be 'sharpened up' with a little mustard powder.
There are several recipes for 'pre-made' mustards, little balls or thick pastes to which the user adds vinegar or other liquid to make the right consistency of mustard. Mustard sauces in period may have been less thick than the specialty mustards we are accustomed to; the phrase 'running' or 'thin' is often applied to mustard prepared for serving.
Some of the mustard sauces are boiled, also. Modern herbalists note that heating/cooking mustard may cause it to get bitter if it is cooked too long.
Equipment: Mortars & Mills:
Several sources mention peppermills, handmills or querns used for the purpose of grinding mustard. We can use a mortar and pestle, peppermill, flour grinder, coffee grinder, etc. for grinding spices. Food processors and blenders seem to have too large a capacity to do a good job on squishing the seeds, though they can be used to get a smoother consistency in the finished product.
Mortars with a roughened inside, and heavy, roughened pestles seem to work best; also, if the mortar curves inward at the top, you get less 'splatter'. You only want to grind a small amount at a time; trial and error will show you the best quantity to use in a given set.
Coffee grinders can be a wonderful convenience for grinding medium quantities of spices and herbs at one time. Be sure to KEEP THE LID CLOSED until all motion has ceased -- powdered mustard continues to move a bit longer than ground coffee.
When grinding, be sure not to get mustard powder in your eyes, nose, or other mucous membranes; it really, really hurts!
Obviously, you need a bowl to mix in, spoons and things to mix with, measuring spoons if you measure, and containers to put it in! Mustard should be kept in a sealed container of some sort; refrigeration (except under Pennsic like conditions) is probably optional if you have enough acid in the mix. Exposure to air dulls the mustard oil, (which is why period mustard pots had small mouths). If you are going to cook the sauce, you'll need a pan to do that in (a non-reactive one is best).
How to do it:
Pear Mustard from Welserin, by Brandu (Jeff Gedney)
What I wound up doing:
á 4 cans pear halves in juice, well drained
á two spice bottles of dry mustard powder (I usually prefer to grind my own with mostly brown mustard seed)
á 1 1/2 cups sugar
á 6 tbsp cider vinegar
á 1 cup white wine
I did this all in the food
á The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices, Sarah Garland. (Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest, 1993)
á Delightes for Ladies. Hugh Plat. edited by Violet and Hall Trovillion from the 1627 edition. (Herrin, IL: Trovillion Private Press, 1939)
á Ein New Kochbuch, Max Rumpolt, c. 1581, translated by M. Grasse: http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_sauce1.htm
á The English Housewife: containing the inward and outward virtues which ought to be in a complete woman..., Gervase Markham. first printed 1615. Published 1986 by McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal; edited by Michael R. Best.
á Forme of Cury, online version: http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/foc/
á Le Menagier de Paris. online version of an 1844 English translation: http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Cookbooks/Menagier/Menagier.html
á Food and drink in Britain. C. Anne Wilson. (Chicago : Academy Chicago Publishers, 1991)
á A Garden of Pleasant Flowers: Paradisi in Sole. John Parkinson (NY: Dover Publications, 1991)
á Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/
á The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides: illustrated by a Byzantine, A. D. 512; Englished by John Goodyer, A. D. 1655; edited and first printed, A. D. 1933, by Robert T. Gunther ... with three hundred and ninety-six illustrations.
á Green Enchantment: The golden age of herbs and herbalists, Rosetta Clarkson. (New York, Macmillan, 1940)
á Hildegard von Bingen's Physica: the complete English translation of her classic work on Health and Healing. Trans. from the Latin by Patricia Throop. (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1998)
á http://www.best.com/%7Eddfr/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html">Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin (1553): http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html
á The Lore of Spices, J.O. Swahn. (NY: Cresent Books, 1991)
á The Magic of Herbs: A modern chronicle of herbs, and savory seeds. Rosetta Clarkson(New York: Macmillan, 1939)
á The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy. Odile Redon, et al.(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988)
á "Mustard" in Stefan's Florilegium, http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-CONDIMENTS/mustard-msg.html">http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-CONDIMENTS/mustard-msg.html
á Mustards, Ketchups and Vinegars: Making the most of seasonal abundance. Carol W. Costenbader (Pownal, VT: Storey, 1996)
á The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Buhler, 19): A Critical Edition and English Translation. by Terence Scully. (University of Michigan Press, 2000)
á "The 'opusculum de saporibus' of Magninus Mediolanensis." T. Scully, Medium Aevum 54 (1985): 178-207.
á On Right Pleasure and Good Health:A Renaissance Gentleman's Discourse On food, Health, and the Physical Pleasures. Platina. Translated and edited by Mary Ella Milham. Available in hardback from MRTS and paperback from Pegasus Press.
á The pantry gourmet : over 250 recipes for mustards, vinegars, relishes, pates, cheeses, breads, preserves, and meats to stock your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. Jane Doerfer (Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1984)
á The Spice Companion: the culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal uses of Spices. Richard Craze (Allentown, PA: People's Medical Society, 1997)
á "Antimicrobial Effects of Mustard Flour and Acetic Acid against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium." Rhee MS, Lee SY, Dougherty RH, Kang DH. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, May 2003, vol 69, issue 5: p. 2959-63.
2002, 2003, Jennifer A. Heise. Contact me via email for permission to reprint: jahb at lehigh.edu
Permission is explicitly granted for limited reproduction as a printed handout for classes in schools, herb society meetings, or classes or guild meetings in the Society for Creative Anachronism (except to corporate officers and board members of the SCA, Inc.), as long as I am notified and credited and the entire handout is used. [Jadwiga's herbs homepage: http://www.lehigh.edu/%7Ejahb/herbs/herbs.html">http://www.lehigh.edu/~jahb/herbs/herbs.html ].
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.