Condiments Gain Increasing Attention from Food Processors

It's time for manufacturers to loudly tout mustard's fat-free, cholesterol-free attributes.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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Garlic, cracked peppercorns, caramelized onions, Chipotle, Habanero or Serrano peppers, Tabasco, Wasabi and curry are being used in new products to give mustard a bite. Paprika, horseradish, beer, Chardonnay, Champagne and Tequila give it a kick. Chocolate-orange, cranberry, Bing cherries, lemon-vanilla, pineapple, mango, sun-dried tomatoes, lavender, seaweed, maple and/or espresso are ingredients that take mustard to new levels.

“Some of the trends we’re seeing in the category are mustards with Wasabi, berry flavors and more alcohol-flavored products,” says Tom Vierhile, executive editor of ProductScan Online, from Marketing Intelligence Service, Naples, N.Y. ProductScan tracked 137 new mustard products last year in the U.S. and Canada, up from 47 in 2003.

Mustard in both dried and prepared varieties provides tremendous flavor and appeals to Hispanic and Asian consumers, who use it as an ingredient in their home cooking.

For those who prefer a stronger kick, the city of Dijon in France has been the home of fine mustards since the 13th century. In 1777, Monsieur Grey, who had the recipe, and Monsieur Poupon, who had the cash, formed a partnership to make the strongest mustard available. The result was Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard.

The Nabisco Foods unit of Kraft, which holds a license from Grey Poupon, is the only manufacturer outside of France allowed to use the term Dijon. This type of mustard must contain brown or black mustard seeds. Although not quite as strong as the French-made Grey Poupon, Nabisco’s American version packs a fine flavor wallop and is a handy ingredient for the home cook. Today, Kraft Foods offers several retail varieties including: Grey Poupon Dijon, Honey, Deli, Country Dijon and Spicy Brown Mustard.

Mustard ABCs

A plant, mustard belongs to the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale and kohlrabi. It’s believed the name comes from a Roman mixture of crushed mustard seed and must (unfermented grape juice), which was called mustum ardens or "burning wine." Likewise, the French word moutarde comes from a contraction of French words moust ("must") and a form of ardent ("hot" or "fiery").

White mustard seeds are much larger than the brown variety but a lot less pungent. White seeds are used in American-style mustards, which tend to be mild. White and brown seeds are blended to make English mustard. Brown seeds are used for pickling and as a seasoning, and are the main ingredient in European and Chinese mustards, which are zesty and flavorful.

The French are famous for their tangy Dijon mustard, made with brown or black seeds. German prepared mustards can range from very hot to sweet and mild. And Chinese mustards are usually the hottest and most pungent of the prepared mustards.

Mustard seeds are sold whole, ground into powder or processed further into prepared mustard – powdered mustard combined with seasonings and a liquid such as water, vinegar, wine beer or must. American-style prepared mustard is a mild mixture made from the less-pungent white seed, flavored with sugar, vinegar and turmeric. Powdered mustard is simply finely ground mustard seed.

“There are three types of mustard: yellow (white), brown and oriental,” according to Michael Boland of the Ag Marketing Resource Center, Kansas State University. “Mustard seed is primarily used in the food or condiment industries in the form of either seed or oil. Yellow is the mildest of the three and has lower oil content. It’s most commonly used to produce mild prepared mustard for table use, but is also used as dry mustard seasoning in mayonnaise, salad dressings and sauces. The flour made from yellow mustard is also an excellent emulsifying agent and stabilizer for prepared meats. Brown and oriental are primarily used for hot table mustard and for oil spices.”

It’s the ingredients used to flavor the mustard paste or sauce that gives mustard its many nuances. Variations in mustard include mild and hot, coarse-ground or smooth. It’s the choice of liquids – from apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to wine and beer – flavoring agents from herbs, spices and aromatics and the degree of milling that determines the subtle variations in mustard's taste and texture.

Nearly all mustards are finished with the addition of salt, which both helps preserve the flavors and, because salt melts slowly on the tongue, brings them together in a harmonious finish on the palate.

The characteristic quality of mustard is its sharp, bright heat, an element that can be released simply by chewing the raw seed. This sensation is the result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the outer husk of the mustard seed is shattered and its cellular structure broken.

With white mustard, the burning sensation is felt only on the tongue. With brown and black mustards, there is also a sense of vaporization that affects the eyes, nose, and sinuses in much the same way as the Japanese horseradish wasabi.


Top Mustard Vendors
(for year ended
Dec. 26, 2004)
Dollar Sales
(millions)
Percent Change
(vs. year ago)
Market Share
       
Reckitt Benckiser

$92.4

-2.8%

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