Mustard is derived from a Latin word mustum ardens which means burning must. This member of Brassica family consists of minute round esculent pods and edible leaves.
Grinded mustard pods essentially bear the spicy heating properties, hence the name burning must. In addition to this, it was a famous French tradition to mix the grounded seeds properly with must which was actually the unfermented fresh fluid of wine grapes.
Earlier, mustard was regarded as a therapeutic plant with a number of medicinal uses, but later on it was discovered that it can be used as a cooking agent as well.
The history of mustard usage as a medicine dates back to sixth century B.C. when well known Greek researcher Pythagoras made use of it to cure scorpion stings.
After approximately one hundred years, Hippocrates utilized mustard in innumerable medicines and bandages which are also known as poultices. Apart from these, mustard plasters were also made and applied to heal toothaches and many such problems.
Edible mustard preparations were, for the first time, carried out by the early Romans who used to crush the pods and then blend them with some wine to make a paste out of it. This is somewhat very similar to the preparation which is used in the present times.
The mustard pods bear special importance among people who follow the principles of Christianity as it signifies something that is tiny and irrelevant when planted but grows into a structure that indicates power and potency.
A new Vatican post under the name grand moutardier du pape (with the literal meaning being mustard maker to the pope) was introduced by Pope John XXII just because he was very much fond of mustard and its uses. This post was, without any delay, offered to his nephew.
Jeremiah Colman, who happened to be the organizer of Colman’s Mustard of England, was selected as the mustard maker to the Queen Victoria, in the year 1866.
Colman was the first person who flawlessly completed the task and introduced the technique of crushing the mustard pods to make them into a fine residue without the evolution of any heat that gives out the oil. It is advised that the oil should not be exposed otherwise the flavor tends to evaporate.
There are basically three types of mustard seeds popular in the world: Brassica nigra, Brassica juncea and Sinapis alba. Nigra consists of black seeds and is found in Middle East areas.
Juncea grows in the Himalayas and contains brown seeds whereas, alba contains light tanned seeds (which later on turn yellow) and can be seen growing in Mediterranean areas.
Mustard seeds are widely used in many recipes as they bring out a unique taste of a dish.