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Dijon Mustard

Thursday, 22 October 2009 | Tags: , ,

Popular since ancient times both for culinary flavouring and medicinal purposes, the mustard plant gives rise to a wide variety of products, including Dijon mustard. Not just for turkey sandwiches and hot dogs, Dijon mustards arenít all created equal. We find out more about this spicy condiment.

The Basics

  • Dijon mustard is made from hulled, ground brown (and sometimes black) mustard seeds blended with an acidic ingredient like verijuice (the unripened, unfermented juice of wine grapes), white wine, citric acid, tartaric acid, or vinegar, as well as spices. The formula used today is loosely based on the formula created in 1856 by agriculturist Jean Naigeon from Dijon.

  • Today, much of the seeds that mustard is made from are grown in Canada, with Saskatchewan being regarded as the centre of Canada’s mustard seed industry. So while Dijon mustard is produced in France, it likely uses Canadian seeds.

  • A good Dijon mustard should be a perfect balance of spice and acidity, with hints of salt and sweet. Its consistency should be thick, not watery, but also not too pasty.

  • Dijon mustard isn’t just for turkey sandwiches and hot dogs! It is a great addition to dressings, dips, sauces and marinades. Rub it into chicken, pork, lamb, and white fish before cooking.

  • Heat causes the mustard to lose its spicy flavour, so to get the best taste, add it to your recipe towards the end of cooking

  • If you like a spicy Dijon, choose a brand that has mustard seeds towards the top of the ingredients list, and vinegar lower down. (Tasting note: French’s Dijon mustard has vinegar as its first ingredient, while Grey Poupon doesn’t use vinegar at all.) Vinegar, however, is a preservative, so be sure to keep an eye on the best before dates.

  • Buy mustard with a best before date as far into the future as possible to ensure the freshest product, since flavour fades quickly over time.

  • Stone-ground mustard seeds retain more of their spicy flavour than machine-ground seeds, since stone grinding doesn’t produce much heat (which otherwise causes the spiciness to dissipate).

Other Considerations

  • Health-wise, mustard seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and contain many healthy phytonutrients. Dijon mustard is low in calories (5 cal/tsp) but can be high in sodium (120mg/tsp = 5% of your daily sodium intake.) Dijon mustard also aids digestion, and spicier varieties can help clear sinuses. Mustard poultices are traditional respiratory home remedies.

Be Aware

  • The production of Dijon mustard is widespread and loosely regulated with no protected status in the European Union like other specialty foods do (e.g. olive oil and balsamic vinegar). This means that, while most producers follow a fairly traditional recipe, there are no restrictions on where it can be produced or the inclusion of additives and preservatives.

  • As mentioned in the previous point, some brands of Dijon mustard contain a lot of additives and preservatives. If you’re looking for a more traditional product, be sure to read the label and avoid those with long lists of thickeners, colouring agents, and preservatives (namely, things in the list you don’t easily recognize), which can obscure the quality of the mustard itself. Brands with many additives and preservatives may have an undesirable chemical aftertaste.

TEST CRITERIA

Since Dijon mustard is a versatile ingredient in many recipes, we wanted to find out if there’s a big difference in taste. We set up a mustard tasting stand and tested:

  • French’s Dijon Prepared Mustard (made in the USA): $3.35/325ml
  • Edmond Fallot Dijon Mustard (made in France, stone-ground seeds): $3.75/375ml
  • Maille Dijon Originale (made in France): $3.99/200ml
  • Grey Poupon Prepared Dijon Mustard (made in the USA, contains white wine): $4.49/200ml

Taste Test

  • The Maille mustard had a good balance of spice and acidity, and it had a milder spice than the others

  • The Edmond Fallot was very strong and spicy. A good one for sausages, but too strong for some of our testers.

  • The French’s tasted too vinegary for many people, and slightly mayonnaise-y. (Vinegar is the first ingredient in the list, with mustard seed in 3rd place after water!)

  • The Grey Poupon as a bit more acidic in flavour than the Maille, but balanced and milder than the Edmond Fallot.

OUR TOP PICK

This is one of those taste tests where there was no clear winner because all of the mustards had their fans. Grey Poupon garnered the most votes at 32%, but Maille was a close second.

 

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