Summertime in America, is all about hot dogs, barbecuing, and “grandma’s” apple pie. And in America, nothing is more standard on hot dogs than mustard. Sure, people pile all kinds of other things on hot dogs, including chili, cheese, onions, pickle relish, horseradish, sauerkraut, and even barbecue sauce. But still and all mustard or a Dijon mustard substitute is a pretty standard condiment for a hot dog. And we use mustard in a ton of other things too, including potato salad, macaroni salad, and other cooking recipes.
But when it comes to mustard, there is almost as much variety as there is for hot dog toppings. Some people prefer strictly traditional “yellow” mustard such as “French’s” or “Heinz” and haven’t even ventured to try any other kind of mustard. In Ohio, the preference for Stadium mustard is huge. Stadium mustard is a spicy brown mustard that is sold at all the Cleveland sports arenas.
In fact, there was a battle of the mustards in 2011 between the Davis Food Company and the Bertman Foods Company. Original stadium mustard is now called “Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard” and Davis Food Company sells “The Authentic Stadium Mustard” manufactured in Illinois. Both are brown mustards, but Bertman’s is a bit sweet whereas Davis’ Stadium Mustard is spicier.
In truth, the origins of Dijon mustard go back as far as the Romans. The Roman cooks used ground mustard seeds combine with “must”, an unfermented grape juice to create a paste which was called “mustum ardens” which meant “burning must”. This was later shortened to be mustard. This mustard today is known as Dijon mustard, although in the modern day many of the Dijon mustards are made with white vinegar rather than “must”.
The Flavor of Mustard Seeds
When it comes to the flavor of mustard, it all originates from the mustard seeds used. For a milder taste, start with yellow mustard seeds. Brown mustard seeds have more heat and a more intense flavor. Black mustard seeds infuse your mustard with the hottest and spiciest flavor. Dijon mustard or substitutes are typically made from brown mustard seeds. Mustard seeds are dormant until ground or powdered and combined with a liquid to make a paste.
The acidity of the liquid used to make the paste determines the flavor in the mustard. Water is the least acidic so it will produce a mustard that when fresh is very pungent. Using vinegar which is more of an acidic liquid than water, will result in a slower reaction. This means the heat will linger longer.
A mustard made with yellow seeds and vinegar will be mild and have a long shelf life. For a hotter mustard, use cold water and brown or black mustard seeds. Although the modern practice of bottling and refrigerating mustard help to stabilize the acidic reaction, you will find mustards can lose their “heat” as they age. For the most flavorful results in mustard, choose a mustard with an expiration date at least six months away.
Types of Mustard:
The types of mustard from most mild to hottest are:
Yellow Mustard (French’s)
This is the most popular mustard used in American households. For those born in the 1970’s or later it could be on the few mustards, you’ve tasted. If this is the extent of your mustard experience it’s time to branch out.
For those used to traditional yellow mustard, honey mustard is not a huge leap. It’s a mix of yellow mustard and honey which gives it a sweeter taste. It’s a popular dipping sauce, especially for children who might not like even the mild bite of traditional yellow mustard. Spicy Brown Mustard (i.e.
Spicy Brown Mustard (i.e. Guldens)
Made from brown mustard seeds, spicy brown mustard has much more bite than yellow mustard but not as much punch as Dijon mustard or hot mustard.
Dijon Mustard (such as Grey Poupon)
When it comes to Dijon Mustard, most people either love it or hate it. It’s made from brown mustard seeds, white wine, various spices depending on the recipe. Dijon mustard or a Dijon mustard substitute has a stronger flavor that is much spicier than traditional yellow mustard. In the mid-1800’s, the recipe included something called verjuice instead of vinegar. Verjuice is the acidic juice from unripe grapes and was used by Jean Naigeon to get a smoother product. Dijon mustard manufactured today typically uses white wine and vinegar as a substitute for verjuice.
Whole Grain Mustard
This type of mustard uses wine and black and brown mustard seeds rather than yellow. The seeds are ground slightly, just enough to create a thick paste. Whole grain mustard provides an additional texture to sandwiches and salad dressings. In this same category are spirit and beer mustards which originated in the 20th century in the Midwest United States. Beer or other spirits such as bourbon or whiskey can be added or substituted in place of vinegar. This type of mustard can have a range of complex flavors dependent on the type of beer or spirit used.
Without hot water or some type of acidic liquid, the full potency of mustard comes through. You’re probably most familiar with hot mustard in packets that come with Chinese American take-out. Hot mustard is made by grinding black or brown seeds with cold water. The mustard will gradually build heat and reach full potency after about 10-15 minutes. You can slow the heat loss by refrigerating or adding vinegar but it will gradually lose its heat over time.
This is a variation of hot mustard. The most popular brand is Coleman’s Mustard which comes in powdered from ready for you to mix with cold water. It’s a combination of brown and yellow mustard seeds. It’s commonly made without vinegar but has less heat than hot mustard. Great for sauces or roasts or to spice up a plain sandwich.
Other Substitutes for Dijon Mustard
- Horseradish or Horseradish Powder
- Wasabi Powder
- Traditional Yellow Mustard
Best Dijon Mustard Substitute
If you’re a Dijon mustard fan and can’t seem to keep it stocked, you can make the best Dijon mustard substitute with just a few ingredients found in most kitchens. You may even find that you like this Dijon mustard substitute better than store bought Dijon mustard.
Here’s what to include:
- 1 Teaspoon of water
- 1 Tablespoon of dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon of sugar
- 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise
To use this as a dipping sauce with an oriental flavor, add some sesame oil and mix thoroughly.
If you’ve never tried any mustard other than traditional yellow mustard, you taste buds are in for a treat when you try a Dijon mustard or a Dijon mustard substitute. The flavors can be complex and can add a kick to any type of dish.