Mustard, indigenous to Southern Europe and Southwest Asia, is an annual herb in the Cruciferae family cultivated for centuries in Europe, India and America.
Originated in ancient Rome, mustard was first used for its medical effects. Greek scientist Pythagoras used mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. Hippocrates used mustard in a variety of medicines and poultices. In the 8th century it was produced in cloister garths in France, highly increasing the level of French cuisine after becoming widespread. In those days, mustard was a rarity and thus a privilege to rich people.
Three species of mustard are cultivated: yellow or white mustard (Sinapis alba, formerly Brassica alba), oriental or brown mustard (Brassica juncea) and black mustard (Brassica nigra). Seeds are round, yellow, odourless and slightly hot.
Due to the essential oils in it, mustard seed is primarily used as a spice, although its high protein and oil content make it a foodstuff, a food additive and a fodder, too.
As a spice
As a spice, mustard seed is used to season pickles, sauces, pickled products, sausages, to prepare spice mixes and to preserve cucumber and other pickles. Traditionally, mustard is prepared from the degreased seed flour by adding various spices.
As a food ingredient
Mustard seed is a widely used food ingredient in Asian cuisines and is added to the dishes after frying to make the flavour more intensive. In India, it is used to prepare rice with sour milk, rice with lemon, rice with eggplant or green bean. The majority of spices can also be used as herbs, and are included in diets and vegetarian dishes as well.
As food industry additive
Mustard seed flour is used as an additive in various food industry products such as salad dressings and sauces or meat industry preparations. With its balanced amino-acid composition, mustard seed flour is a valuable protein source. However, before mustard seed is used in food or fodder industry, hot taste has to be eliminated by inactivating the myrosinase enzyme playing an important role in generating this hot taste.
As a fodder
Before flowering, mustard plant is a good quality and favoured green forage fed primarily by cows and young cattle. In later stages, it becomes harmful to the animals. Research results show that the digestibility of nutritive materials extracted from mustard seed is favourable: proteins are digested in 86%, raw fibres in 40%, and organic matters in 88%.
Favourable characteristics of mustard seed
Depending on the variety and the place of cultivation, the protein content of mustard seed varies between 25 and 36%. Mustard seed mainly contains soluble proteins and is rich in glutamine acid and asparagine acid. The rate of essential amino-acids in mustard seed protein is about 37% of the total amino-acid content.
The oil content of mustard seed is 28-30%, of which 4% is saturated fatty acid, 68-69% is monounsaturated, 18-19% is polyunsaturated fatty acid. Having a low content of saturated fatty acids, mustard seed is good for the preservation of good health. The composition of mustard seed oil, especially its high erucic acid content, is similar to that of the rapeseed oil. The fibre content of 6.5% is also beneficial in terms of healthy eating.
In addition, mustard seed is a good source of minerals (its mineral content is 1.5%), containing high amounts of potassium (810 mg/100 g), magnesium (240 mg/100 g) and calcium (160 mg/100 g). The characteristic taste of mustard seed is due to the aroma components in the seed, the degradation products of glucosinolate compounds. The antioxidants in the mustard seed, the phenol compounds, significantly decrease the oxidation of lipids.
Mustard seed enhances the secretion of digestive fluids, is efficient for constipation and tympany, has diuretic effect, reduces high blood pressure and blood fat levels, and is also efficient for urinal infections and bladder inflammation. If applied externally, poultice made from infused mashed mustard seeds can relieve rheumatic symptoms. Recently, it was also found to inhibit the development of osteoporosis.
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