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On my schedule for today is the annual pantry clean-up; a laborious but necessary task which entails removing everything in stock, washing down shelves, inspecting expiry dates, repackaging and relabeling and then drawing up a list of goods to be replaced.
I usually do an herb and spice inspection every 3-6 months. Ground spices tend to lose their nutritional value and fragrance after about 3 months. Whole spices may last up to a year, some slightly more depending on where you purchase them from. It is obviously best to by spices from outlets which have a fast turnover that way you are more assured of the freshness of the product. The same goes for dried herbs; they will lose their fragrance and start to smell like old tea after 3 months.
A few packets of mustard seeds are not far from the expiry date, so they will be turned into some mustard, some for the kitchen and some for friends. So there is even more to do than planned.
With a good job done I am now hungry. Lunch is simple but delicious, a seasonal affair. Blanched tender stem broccoli and green beans, refreshed under cold water, drained and tossed into simple vinaigrette of garlic, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, seasoned with sea salt flakes and black pepper. Add to this some crumbled crispy bacon, goats milk feta, pitted olives and voila! – Lunch is served.
This basic mustard recipe is reliable and may be varied by adding differ herbs and spices to produce different flavoured mustards. Quantities are very important, weigh and measure every ingredient exactly.
Basic Mustard & Variations
50 g white or brown mustard seed
30 g black mustard seed
50 g light brown sugar
5 ml salt
5 ml turmeric
60 ml finely chopped fresh herbs, or 5 ml dried herbs
200 ml grape vinegar
Place all the dry ingredients, and the herbs in a blender, blend until fine. Slowly add the vinegar, about a tablespoon at a time and continue blending until you have a coarse paste. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes to thicken.
Place the mixture into sterilized jars and seal. Label jars accordingly.
Keep the mustard in a cool dark place for about 2 weeks to allow the flavours to develop.
This recipe lends itself to endless variations. You can flavour the mustard with any of the following ingredients.
Clove mustard: add the tip of a knife of ground cloves
Chilli & garlic mustard: add 1 dried chilli crumbled, and 1 clove of crushed garlic
Horseradish mustard: depending on how hot you want your mustard, add ½ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of grated horseradish
Tarragon mustard: add 60ml finely chopped tarragon and a touch of ground cloves
Honey mustard: use 50ml honey in place of the brown sugar referred to in the recipe.