Mustard - Brassica rapa

Mustard

Brassica rapa

It is of immense medicinal and culinary value. Young mustard leaves are used in salads while the mature ones are sauteed or boiled.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Black mustard, Brown mustard, Red mustard, True mustard, Mostaza
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Seeds, Flowers and Leaves
  • Side Effects: None
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About Mustard

Mustard is an annual summer plant, grown chiefly for its highly valuable seeds. It is hailed as nature’s oldest but most useful spice. It can reach up to a height of 8 feet, showcasing glaucous and glabrous stems with alternate leaves that become shorter as they ascend the stem. Its flowers appear as the stem begins to conclude in the form of narrow racemes. 

It is of immense medicinal and culinary value. Young mustard leaves are used in salads while the mature ones are sauteed or boiled. Its oil is obtained for industrial purposes and for nutritional value too. After certain bioassays, mustard seeds were found to impart antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, anticonvulsant, antithrombotic, and antioxidant activities. 

Primarily, mustard seeds contain palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid, eicosanoid acid, erucic acid, minerals, and vitamins. Mustard plants are usually dwellers of floodplains, meadows, fields, anthropogenic areas, and shores of rivers or lakes.

 

Growing

Mustard is very easy to grow and can tolerate almost any type of soil. It tends to thrive lavishly in well-drained, moist, and loamy soil with 6 to 7 pH. Give it full to partial sun exposure for rapid growth. Start your mustard plant directly outdoors in spring, around 2 to 4 weeks before the last spring frost date or 6 to 8 weeks before the first fall frost, or you can do it indoors at any time of the year. It can sprout within a day or two if it is given the right proportion of its favorable condition.

Give it enough water to keep its soil surface moist and a bit high temperature for better sprouting and high-quality seed production.

Mustards take around 14 to 21 days to germinate. However, if they are given the optimal amount of their favorable growing needs, they can sprout within 2 days. It enters the blooming phase from early to late spring. 

The mustard flowers are pollinated by insects to carry on with the process of ovule fertilization, which then results in the withering of flowering and the appearance of seeds. These seeds can reseed on their own and sometimes spread viciously, taking over acres of field.

 

Harvesting

Look for the appearance of flowers. When all the flowers of the plant have withered off, it’s time to harvest those seeds.

You can either harvest mustard leaves or mustard seeds, given your actual requirement. Go for the young leaves if you wish to make a salad or the mature ones if you are yearning for some sauteed veggies. On the other hand, for some spicy spark, go for the seeds. Cut the entire stem and hang it upside down in the sun (if you feel that your pods aren’t dry enough to come off easily). Shake the stem and collect the seeds in a container or paper bag.

Store the seeds in an airtight container after the harvest. As for mustard leaves, use them fresh or you can refrigerate them in a plastic bag to keep them fresh for 3 to 4 days.

 

Usage

Mustard seeds have sparked their signature taste in a diverse variety of cuisines on different tables of the world. Medicinally, they have been used in different dosage forms to benefit mankind.

  • Tincture - Dried mustard seeds are macerated in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks and strained to yield mustard tincture.
  • Tea - Grind the dried mustard leaves into a coarse powder and let it sit in boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes and enjoy mustard tea.
  • Syrup - Mustard usually goes in combination with maple when it comes to making a syrup. Combine both of them with sugar and water and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Strain away the plant material and bottle the syrup for later use.
  • Infused oil - Mustard seeds are infused in a carrier oil (coconut or almond oil) on a sunny windowsill for 2 to 3 weeks. Bottle the oil after straining it and use as required.