Making Mustards with Ale

I had to make mustard today because we are out, so I went poking through my websites looking for ideas.  I first started dabbling in recreating period receipts when I was dancing with a troupe that performed English Country Dancing at Renaissance faires.   But it’s strange for me to use recipes.  I come from a long line of people who rarely use a cookbook for staple foods.   I have fond memories of standing over my bread while my parents were there to tell me whether I had kneaded it long enough, or not.  We used a metal oven that sat on top of our woodstove for baking bread. 

I have a base recipe I use for stoneground mustard.  Lately, I have been making a lot of ale mustard because we have a lot of ale on hand.  In the Le Viandier de Taillevent there is an ale mustard recipe that I used as a start when I made it up.

“Soak the mustard seed overnight in good ale, grind it in a mill, and then moisten it little by little with ale. If you have any spices left over from Hippocras or sauces, grind them with it.”

Another receipt I have found that really intrigues me is this recipe for stewed mutton from the Boke of Kokery.

Stwed Mutton̄. Take faire Mutton̄ that hatℏ ben̄ roste, or elles Capons, or suche oþer flessℏ, and mynce it faire; put hit into a possenet, or elles bitwen̄ ij. siluer disshes; caste thereto faire parcely, And oynons smaƚƚ mynced; then̄ caste there-to wyn̄, and a lituƚƚ vynegre or vergeous, pouder of peper, Canel, salt and saffron̄, and lete it stue on þe faire coles, And þen̄ serue hit forthe; if he have no wyn̄e ne vynegre, take Ale, Mustard, and A quantite of vergeous, and do þis in þe stede of vyne or vinegre.

If you look at those ingredients, they sure sound like mustard, so I made a receipt using those ingredients.

1 cup brown mustard seeds
1 cup yellow mustard seed
½ cup white wine vinegar (red, or verjuice – whatever you have around)
1 small onion minced
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of saffron threads

Put the mustard seeds in a glass bowl. Add one bottle of ale and the vinegar to the mustard seeds, cover the bowl and let it sit for at least 12 hours. I prefer 24. Because the first recipe says to let it sit on the fire coals you could do this in a crockpot, but I generally don’t.

Strain the mustard seeds but keep any liquid. Chop the onion finely.  Add it to the mustard seeds along with the other spices.  You can omit the cinnamon.  I sometimes do half-and-half.

I then ask my servant Immer Sion Blender to pound finely.  He’s a good strong lad, so he’s a bit faster than Mortar of Pestle but simulates the pounding process a bit.  Also, he still needs to take breaks at this, or he will overheat.

Slowly pour the liquid you kept back into the seeds while blending them. Keep adding ale until the mustard is a nice consistency which can mean anything to anyone.  In our house my eldest son is the judge of when it had been pounded enough.  Put the mustard in sterilized jars and keep them in the fridge.

Published by Stephany Riley Hoffelt

If you want to read more about me, it's on the website www.domestic-medicine.com

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