Further Adventures in Fermentation: Making Mustard

4.56 from 9 votes

Nishanga Bliss, L.Ac., is an assistant professor at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA. She is the author of Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy and is currently pursuing her doctorate from Hawthorn University.

She blogs at Gastronicity and you can also find her on Facebook.

Fermented Mustard

Once you’ve caught the fermenting bug, you’ll find that fermenting becomes an essential and fun part of your unprocessed lifestyle.  I caught the bug about six years ago and now eat something fermented at almost every meal.  Eating a diverse array of fermented foods is not only a culinary adventure but a great way to augment your microbiota, that community of bacteria that live on and in your body (and outnumber your own cells by a factor of ten to one).  As I wrote in Real Food All Year, “having healthy microbiota helps protect you from infections, regulates digestion and metabolism, prevents disease, buffers stress, tames inflammation and prevents allergies and autoimmune problems (Huffnagle and Wernick 2007).”  Fermentation is one of the few methods of food preservation that actually increases the nutritional value of your food because bacterial action makes nutrients more available, predigests proteins, synthesizes fatty acids and vitamins such as B, K and A, lowers glycemic index of foods, and neutralizes certain antinutrients such as phytates and nitrates. 

Chinese medicine teaches that eating pungent or spicy foods aids digestion and can strengthen the lungs.  Incorporating spicy foods into your diet in the autumn can benefit your respiratory system, and prevent and treat colds and coughs.   An essential spicy condiment in my kitchen is mustard, which is made from ground mustard seeds.  Mustard is one of the crucifers, the cancer-fighting plant family that includes broccoli, kale and cabbage, and is high in the same glucosinolates which give those vegetables their cancer preventative power.  According to cancer researcher Bharat Aggarwal, PhD, in his book Healing Spices (2011), researchers have also found mustard seed to help normalize cholesterol, prevent diabetes, improve lung function and protect the brain in animal and human studies.

I first learned the joy of making your own mustard from Vanessa Barrington’s book, DIY Delicious. Instead of soaking the mustard seeds in the traditional wine, beer or vinegar, choosing whey or pickle brine (such as from making dill pickles) introduces the health benefit and keeping qualities of lactic acid bacteria into your condiment. My favorite way to use it is as the basis for homemade vinaigrette dressing, the vital topper for my daily, unprocessed, salad at lunch. Mustard you make yourself will be a bit spicier than commercial varieties, which usually contain fillers such as flour, but it will mellow as it ages in your fridge.

Fermented Mustard
4.56 from 9 votes

Whole Grain Stout Mustard

By: Nishanga Bliss
My favorite way to use it is as the basis for homemade vinaigrette dressing, the vital topper for my daily, unprocessed, salad at lunch. Mustard you make yourself will be a bit spicier than commercial varieties.
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 servings


  • ¾ cup whey or pickle brine
  • ½ cup mustard seeds, brown or yellow—the brown are hotter and will make a spicier mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots or ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • salt, if using whey


  • Combine the whey, mustard seeds, and shallots or garlic in a bowl and allow to soak at room temperature overnight.
  • In a blender or food processor, mix the soaked seeds with the maple syrup, and blend until you get a texture you like, which can take several minutes. Taste for salt and correct the seasoning. Store in a sealed jar in the fridge, where it will keep for many months.


Calories: 81kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 27mg, Potassium: 155mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 195IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 64mg, Iron: 1.5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Whole Grain Stout Mustard” © 2011 Susy Morris, used under the creative commons license.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

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Teresa Loeffler
October 10, 2021 1:18 pm

Andrew, can I use raw honey instead of maple syrup? Thanks!

October 26, 2012 8:24 am

I can’t wait to try this! I purchased the brand “Bubbies” fermented dill pickles & sauerkraut. Could I simply just use the juice from that? Thanks!

October 24, 2012 6:56 pm

Maybe a dumb question but where do I get pickle brine? How do i make it myself?

October 23, 2012 7:29 pm

5 stars
Great article and since I love mustard, I love introducing the health element in as well!

October 23, 2012 11:59 am

Love the idea. Where do you recommend getting good quality seeds?

Also, are you really only fermenting over one night, then storing in the fridge? In my experience, most quick ferments still take 2-3 days at room temperature to build up the good lactic acid bacteria.


Reply to  Austin D
October 23, 2012 1:13 pm

Mustard seeds are (usually) available in the bulk-herb-and-spice section of a health-food store. (Health FOOD store, not vitamin-and-supplement emporium.) For mail order, I’ve bought spices from Penzey’s and from Spices Etc. with good results.
I suspect that if you’re using brine from already-fermented pickles/kraut/whatever, the lactic acid will already be there and ready to go right to work, not needing time to build up. Whey – dunno. My husband is mild-to-moderate lactose-intolerant so I don’t keep yogurt/whey/milk around. I’d rather use those fat calories (and he’d rather use his limited milk-digesting ability) on a little really good cheese.

Reply to  Sandy
October 28, 2012 5:05 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. Turns out there is a Penzey’s in my own neighborhood!

Reply to  Sandy
December 18, 2021 12:40 am

So sorry for your husband’s lactose intolerance. But Kefir offers a way! Online or local purchased or gifted Kefir “grains” (little chunks of symbiotic bacteria & yeasts) eat almost all the lactose! leaving a yummy, healthy fermented milk that is almost lactose free. Very few lactose intolerant folk have problems digesting it. (Kefir is truly self-sustaining as those grains just keep multiplying as I make it fresh only every few days. Most make it fresh every 24 hours.)

And delicious live kefir can also easily be separated into curds & whey, providing a lovely fermented cream (or harder) cheese and the whey even your husband will be able to glug down! Live Yogurt, also wonderful, is not as lactose free, nor provides but a fraction of the healthy microbes that help reconstitute our gut microbiomes.

October 23, 2012 9:29 am

I am loving these recipes! I’ve never made mustard; but I love eating mustard, & I love fermenting, so I can’t wait to try this. And, it looks super easy– that’s my kind of recipe. Thank you so much.

Charles B
October 23, 2012 9:23 am

Looks like a fun recipe to try. I have some sauerkraut fermenting so I think I can use that brine as a base.

@Cheryl – Using a typical brine of 1.5 TBSP/qt water suggests 3/4 – 1 tsp of salt (without iodine or fillers) would be about right for 3/4 cup unsalted whey.

Reply to  Charles B
October 23, 2012 9:38 am

Thank you, Charles!

Karen Bringleson
October 23, 2012 9:07 am

Hi…just wondered if I can make the mustard without adding garlic or onions. I can’t eat either one. Thanks!

October 23, 2012 6:29 am

Thank you, Nishanga! I am a huge fan of mustard and, like you, use it in a vinaigrette on my lunch (and sometimes dinner) salad nearly every day. Having just discovered the joys of glass jars, I have a newly-emptied mustard jar just waiting in my pantry for this recipe. If I use whey, approximately how much salt will I need to use?

Reply to  Cheryl
December 18, 2021 12:46 am

Charles, above, worked out 3/4 – 1 tsp of sea/Himalayan salt per 3/4 cup of whey.