Friday, November 28, 2008

A Taste of History

Some time back I ordered some spices from Pensey's spice company and I told you that I would share my recipe for a mustard from the 17th Century with you. Well, here it is, with a wee bit of background.

I had some friends that worked at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, and they were kind enough to share this with me. Mustard was one of the most commonly used spices/condiments in the 17th century. With the diet of either salted preserved meat or fresh meat which was quickly going bad due to lack of refrigeration or preservatives, mustard was a valued condiment to improve the taste, as well as cover up any trace of decay in the food of the time.

Here is the recipe from the 1600's rewritten for the modern kitchen. I suspect that it would be good on beef, pork, fowl as well as wild game.

Make some up and eat as the pilgrims did. -grin-

Mustard sauce
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons honey
11⁄2 teaspoons salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 cups red wine vinegar or cider vinegar

Grind the mustard seed in a spice grinder, blender or mortar and pestle. It should be about the texture of coarse cornmeal. Place the mustard in a medium bowl and add the spices. Pour in the vinegar and stir well to combine. Let the mustard stand two hours (or more) and stir again. If it is too thick, you can add water or additional vinegar, white wine or even dry sherry. The mustard can be eaten at this point — however, it will be very sharp. The mustard mellows very nicely over time and is truly at its best at least a week or two after it is made.

Put the mustard in a sterile quart jar. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the mustard to mellow unrefrigerated. Add more liquid as needed. When you are ready to serve the mustard, taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Any unused mustard can be stored indefinitely. It will continue to mellow as it ages.

Makes 2 cups.

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