Monday, January 18, 2016

Mustard and a redhot poker

So why did the following two mustard recipes (one by the famed Alexis Soyer), use a hot fireplace poker?  The poker's heat was supposed to remove some of the 'acrimony' and water, thus making room in the mustard pot to top with a little vinegar.  Mustard made in this fashion kept well and "improves with age."

One can only imagine the aroma!  From Ure's Dictionary of Arts...

1)  "The mode of preparing table mustard patented by M. [Mr. Alexis] Soyer [1810-1858, British], consisted in steeping mustard seed in twice its bulk of weak wood vinegar for eight days, then grinding the whole into paste in a mill, putting it into pots, and thrusting a redhot poker into each of them.

2) M. [Monsieur Louis-Sebastien] Lenormand [1757-1837, French] gives the following prescription for preparing mustard for the table.  With 2 pounds of very fine flour of mustard, mix half an ounce of each of the following fresh plants; parsley, chervil, celery, and tarragon, along with a clove of garlic, and twelve salt anchovies, all well minced.

The whole is to be triturated [pulverised, ground] with the flour of mustard till the mixture becomes uniform. A little grape-must or sugar is to be added, to give the requisite sweetness; then one ounce of salt, with sufficient water to form a thinnish paste by rubbing in a mortar. With this paste the mustard pots being nearly filled,

a redhot poker is to be thrust down into the contents of each, which removes (it is said) some of the acrimony of the mustard, and evaporates a little water, so as to make room for pouring a little vinegar upon the surface of the paste. Such table mustard not only keeps perfectly well, but improves with age."

Ure, Andrew.  A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines.  NY: 1842

Previous blogs on mustard balls and cannon balls; mustard flour and mustard pots; and 1725 French mustard HERE

©2016 Patricia Bixler Reber
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