Save Money by Making Your Own Mustard?

By Marla Walters on 12 October 2010 3 comments

I use a lot of mustard. Before embarking on this project, I took a jar count in the refrigerator. I already owned five different kinds. However, I can easily rationalize this. You need different types of mustard. I use Dijon in many sauces. Whole grain on a ham-and-Swiss panini is great. French's is a necessity on a hot dog. Well, you get the idea. This seemed like a perfect make-your-own condiment opportunity.

To review, here are my criteria for make-it-yourself stuff:

  1. Is the product I make better?
  2. Is it cheaper?
  3. How much time did it take?

When I first decided to try making mustard, I happened to be on a whole-grain mustard kick. I had found a recipe involving sausage and coleslaw that my husband was crazy about — but I needed whole-grain mustard. A 6-oz. jar was $5.50 (ouch) but it was perfect in the recipe.

Once I recovered from the sticker shock, it seemed like a good idea to try making my own whole-grain mustard to save money. I found a recipe online and bought the mustard seed, as well as other ingredients. It looked quite a bit different from the stuff in the jar. It also tasted a lot different. It was awful. I made my daughter try it, just so I could have a second opinion. She said, "Eewww." I chucked it.

I went back to the drawing board. For my second attempt, I decided to try a more basic mustard. I bought some mustard powder ($4.50) and tried again. Even after a week of "mellowing," it was inedible. I was beginning to get discouraged.

For attempt number three, I decided to consult the Penzey's catalog — a wise decision. Not only was mustard powder much more affordable, but they also had a handy recipe. I couldn't resist tasting it right after making it, even though the recipe said it would need to mellow. WHAM! It just about took my head off. I eat a lot of wasabi and wasabi has nothin' on fresh mustard. Whew! The flavor was better, though. I let it mellow a full three weeks before re-testing it. We made some corn dogs and got down to work. How was it? HOT.

The results:

  1. Is it better? If you like the spicy type of mustard that comes with Chinese food, I think you'll like it. I like flavorful mustards, but I have a pretty low tolerance for spiciness.
  2. Is it cheaper? I would say no, unless you can find really inexpensive powder or mustard seed in bulk. I now have a real appreciation for "gourmet" mustards and won't whine so much about the cost.
  3. How much time did it take? Ten minutes, tops, per recipe.

I was happy with the quality of homemade mayonnaise and ketchup. However, that is where I would draw the line. Mustard will not be in my repertoire.

Next post: I make my own salt! Just kidding.

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Guest's picture

There was a "Good Eats" episode about this - apparently the heat in the mustard has something to do with how long you let it sit before adding other ingredients. I can't remember the specifics, but that should bring down the heat index a fair bit.

Marla Walters's picture

Hi, Guest, and thanks for the tip. I will have to go look for that. At some point, I will probably want to "get back up on that horse."

Guest's picture
Marla Zumwalt

Another very informative article.
Now I know mustard making is not worth the effort!
Thanks Marla Walters for doing the investigative work for us.