Mustard is one of the world’s most important spice crops. Throughout history it has been adapted into many different cuisines by many different cultures. In more recent times, mustard has been increasingly used in food preparation for its unique properties. Mustard also has many applications outside of traditional food ingredient uses. Some types offer biological and insecticidal properties, and the oil can be used in the manufacture of biodiesel and other industrial products.

Ancient MustardMustard is an ancient crop

The exact origin of the word mustard is not clear, it may be derived from the use of seed as a condiment mixed with the sweet must of old wine called ”mustum ardens” or hot must. The original use was likely not as a flavour enhancer as much as a flavour disguiser, predating the development of safe and efficient methods food preservation and handling.

Some of the earliest known documentation of mustard’s use dates back to Sumerian and Sanskrit texts from 3000 BC. It has also been described by the Egyptians around 2000 BC and appeared in Chinese writings before 1000 BC. Mustard has been referenced by many scholars and factors prominently in the Bible.

Mustard Production Begins

Mustard Crop in the Field

Mustard production began in western Canada in 1936 with 40 hectares grown in southern Alberta. At that time, the states of California and Montana monopolized production, but Canadian acreage increased because of higher yields and better quality. During the 1950s and 1960s, mustard production migrated east and today, Saskatchewan accounts for about 75 per cent of Canadian mustard production.

Mustard can be used in seed form, ground into a powder or made into prepared mustard, like the yellow mustard used on hot dog or as an ingredient in mayonnaise. Brown mustard is used for hot mustard varieties, such as Dijon. Oriental mustard is also spicier than yellow, and is a common ingredient in Asian cooking.


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