Thursday, 26 September 2013

How to make vinegar and mustard

How to make vinegar and mustard
I am someone who needs to get my feet in grass once a day.  If not, life begins to go wrong.  Get outside and my mind switches off.  I cut wood, garden and generally potter about without a care in the world.   A big sign I am working too hard is when things feel ‘wrong’ and there doesn't seem to be time to get outside, or to make good food. 

So instead of merely doing sums about whether it is worth growing a bit of veg, add this into the equation:
·        money saved on counselling (!)
·        arguments avoided with one’s spouse or significant others
·        money saved on going to the gym
·        eating one’s own home grown spuds can replace going out for dinner - because they feel really special you therefore don’t feel the need to go out.  It is not the equivalent of simply buying spuds.

Similarly, bought mustard will sit in the cupboard for many a year and not get eaten.  But if a friend gives me their home made mustard, it is yummy and special.  A friend did give me home made mustard and it got eaten in a couple of weeks.  She also inspired me to make my own.  When I found out that you can make mustard from kale seeds, the abandoned kale plants in the garden got a new lease of life.  They had gone to seed because I left the flowers for pollinating insects and now there was a use for all the seeds too.  Kale flowers are excellent for insects as are all brassicas  (cabbage family), onions and leeks.

 The kale seeds are now harvested and drying out for mustard making.  About half of the seeds used to make the mustard can be kale, the rest need to be regular mustard seeds.  I am stripping the kale seed pods from the stems and storing them in paper bags made from newspaper, until the pods ripen and the seeds pop out.  It is a bit of a fiddle but doing some every time I pass the kitchen table means they soon get done.

Kale seeds drying
Here is the mustard recipe – with thanks to my friends Gail and Gil and to

 Kale mustard
This is mild but tasty and the mustard seeds break down whereas the kale seeds stay whole, giving a nice texture. 

2 tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons of kale seeds (or use black mustard seeds)
100ml white wine, cider or other vinegar
Half teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon any kind of sugar

Put the mustard & kale seeds and liquids in a jar to soak for 3 days.  Put in a cupboard not the fridge.

After the three days put it in a blender and add the sugar and salt.  Then blend until it has the desired texture. 
NB the vinegar is important as it is a preservative so do not be tempted to skimp on the quantity.

Vinegar is another satisfying thing to make.
There are several ways to make vinegar.  The simplest is to use water in a jug, add a tablespoon of vinegar as a starter, a tablespoon of sugar or honey and some chopped up fruit.  Leave in an open jug for about 3 weeks  and stir every couple of days and it will turn into vinegar.  it will have a white film on it which is the vinegar 'must' and nothing to worry about.  Strain and bottle.  If you grow your own fruit this is great.

 Another way is to use the ends of bottles of wine.  Put some vinegar in an open jar or jug and leave it until it develops a white film on the top.  This is the vinegar starter.  Add the wine and leave to ferment for three weeks. 

Jamie Oliver suggests making vinegar from just wine as follows:
Wrap a half full bottle of wine (with the lid on) in a towel, enclose it in a plastic bag and tie securely with string.  Leave it in the boot of the car so it can roll about for three weeks.  The rolling about will aerate the wine and help it to turn into vinegar.

 By the way, we were given a huge marrow – people often have trouble giving these away, and they are great.  We  are grateful for them as they do not grow outside where we live so we usually have only one plant in the polytunnel.  We often freeze them and use the pulp later – and get lots of free meals.  This one was stuffed with leftover rice and beans with some seasoning and tamari (wheat free soy sauce) and baked in the oven.  We got a dinner and two lunches out of it.  Today I had the remains of another free marrow as soup.  Soup is a great way to use them up and the soup freezes well.  Add some curry powder for a great flavour.  So that’s a free dinner for two and several free lunches this week.


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  2. Re kale mustard; Hi, I've followed instructions to letter, but finished product is way too watery. Any advice? Thanks.

  3. it may be the mustard seeds were harder due to being a bit older and needed to be soaked for longer than usual. I would try blending it again now that it has been in the jar for a while

  4. Re vinegar ... it's fermented alcohol that's the precursor to vinegar because vinegar is the result of bacterial conversion of alcohol to acetic acid. If you let a few fruit flies get into your brew, vinegar will be guaranteed. They are vectors for the bacteria. See Pascal Baudar's site -