(Brassica alba, Brassica nigra, Brassica juncea, Sinapis alba)
Other Names: Rhai, Senap, Moutarde, Senf, Mostarda, Mostaza
Mustard seeds are typically white (B. alba), brown (B. juncea) or black (B. nigra). White mustard is a native of Europe is an erect annual, about a foot or more in height, with pinnatifid leaves and large, yellow, cruciferousflowers. It closely resembles the black and brown variety which are smaller. The fruit of the two plants differs considerably in shape, those of the white mustard being more horizontal and hairy, while black mustard pods are erect and smooth. Black and brown mustard seeds are about half the size of white mustard seeds. The seedcoat is thin and brittle and covered with minute pits. The pods of white mustard are spreading, roundish pods, ribbed and swollen where the seeds are situated, and provided with a very large flattened, swordshaped beak at the end. Each pod contains four to six globular seeds, about 1/12 inch in diameter, yellow both on the surface and internally.
Mustard is used mainly as a condiment. It is also used in Indian cooking - mainly in curries. Asian mustard greens are generally stir-fried or pickled. Mustard oil is commonly used in India in cooking for frying.
Mustard is a well known spice that has a long history of medicinal use. Externally, the rubefacient action of mustard seed causes a mild irritation to the skin, stimulating the circulation in that area, and relieving muscular and skeletal pain. Internally, its stimulating, diaphoretic action promote sweating and can help reduce fevers and relieve symptoms of colds and flu. The primary chemical constituents of mustard seeds include glucosinolates (sinigrin), sinapine, enzyme (myrosin), mucilage, protein and sulphur. Mustard oil has the lowest saturated fat content of edible oils.
Mustard grows easily from seed. Sow white mustard seeds in late spring. Young leaves can be used in salad.