Grown solely for its seeds, the white mustard seeds are hard and round, and ranges from shades of beige, yellow and light brown. Used whole for pickling, or toasted, ground, or made into a paste as a basic spice condiment.
The white mustard comes from the erect, multi-branched herbaceaous mustard plant, which originated in the Mediterranean. This species has yellow flowers that bloom in spring and produces hairy seed pods, with each pod containing roughly a half dozen seeds.
These seeds are harvested just prior to the pods becoming ripe and bursting. White mustard seeds are hard round seeds, usually around 1 to 1.5 millimetres in diameter with a color ranging from beige or yellow to light brown. The seeds themselves have no aroma, but when crushed or ground and mixed with water, enzymes are activated that give it its characteristic hot flavour.
Its pungent taste can be attributed to sinalbin, a thioglycoside. Considered a milder alternative to the Black Mustard seeds, which contain more volatile oils and a stronger flavour.
In Napa Valley, the Mustard Festival celebrates the blooming season of the plant between February to March.
last update by M 12/7/2012