Sunday, January 23, 2011
Mustard Flour, Mustard Pots, Mustard Casters
In a previous post on Mustard Balls and Cannon Balls, HERE I wrote about mustard balls, sold commerically or homemade from period recipes, which kept better than mustard seeds or powder. It was time consuming to crush the mustard seeds at home in a mortar and pestle or with a cannon ball in a wooden bowl or on a quern.
During the 18th century, china and silver casters were produced, often labeled for sugar, pepper, and mustard. As seen in the photo above, taken at Colonial Williamsburg, the front three casters with holes in the top are labeled Mustard (on left side) Sugar (center) and Pepper. I assume that powdered mustard was in the caster with holes on the top and boxes, rather than the prepared (liquid) version, since liquids like oil and vinegar were in taller bottles with stoppers. However, thus far I have been unable to find any references from the 18th century describing using the powder at the table. The popular writer but not a food historian, Bill Bryson, wrongly states that there is no proof mustard was in the third caster in his newest book, At Home. [see below]
Mustard pots with little spoons contained dry or prepared mustard [liquid], as did the mustard bottles in the 19th century cruet sets. The cruet stand c1770, at right [Leeds Museums, Bridgeman Art Library website] contains a creamware mustard pot with a lid, between the sugar and pepper. "The patent mustard [prepared/paste] is by many preferred, and it is perhaps as cheap, being always ready; and if the pots are returned, three-pence is allowed for each." [Rundell, Maria Eliza Ketelby. A New System of Domestic Cookery. 1814]
William IV hinged blind caster,1834 with an indent for the spoon, on the Bonhams website.
[Agricultural Surveys: Yorkshire, North-Riding, 1800]