The mustard plant comes from the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards and kale. The most common types of mustard seed are the white or yellow and the brown seed. The yellow is larger, a bit sweeter, and less pungent. The browns seeds are used for pickling and some seasonings, and are more frequently used in European and Asian fare. Long ago, mustard was thought to cure common ailments like the cold.

While mustard seeds are almost odorless; the pungent bite of mustard is only released when the seeds are crushed and mixed with water, which activates an enzyme in the seeds that gives mustard its characteristic kick.

Mustard powder is derived from ground mustard seed, and is commonly used to flavor sauces, salad dressings and meat marinades. Mustard powder should be added late in the preparation of hot dishes, as heat can neutralize the enzyme that generates mustard’s flavor.

Use mustard powder in a footbath to soothe your aching dogs; use it in a gargle to help with bronchitis and sore throats. It can also be used to induce vomiting.

Mustard is available in the form of seeds, powders, oil, and a myriad of prepared mustards.

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