Mustard is the world’s third most important spice after salt and pepper, and in the temperate regions, it is the most important native spice. (Encyclopedia.com)
Canada is a world leader in condiment mustard seed marketing, accounting for 70 to 80 per cent of global exports, annually. The largest market for Canadian mustard seed is the United States (Yellow Mustard), followed by Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands (Brown Mustard) and Japan (Oriental Mustard). (Mustard Production for Alberta)
Three types of condiment mustards are grown in western Canada, each with uniquely different end uses (Mustard Production for Alberta) They all belong to two species of the cabbage family Cruciferae (Brassicaceae).
1. Yellow Mustard (Sinapis alba L.)
Also known as White Mustard or simply North American yellow hot dog mustard. It’s primarily exported to the USA.
Yellow Mustard (Sinapsis alba) is an annual herbaceous plant 30-60cm high, that matures in 85-95 days and is well adapted to hot, dry growing conditions, as well as frost. The flowers are aromatic, in yellow racemes. The fruit is a hairy pod called a silique.
The seeds are spherical or oval, 2-3 mm in diameter, light creamy yellow (beige) to yellow, occasional seed is light or yellowish brown. The seed surface is textured like an orange peel. (largest seeds compared to the other two)
Yellow mustard is primarily grown for the North American food processing and condiment industry. It’s is used as a binding agent and protein extender in prepared meats.
It is also used for preparation of yellow hot dog mustard, mayonnaise and salad dressings.
2. Brassica juncea (Brown Mustard)
Also known as Brown Mustard and is primarily exported to Europe.
Brown mustard is an annual herbaceous plant that matures in about 95 to 105 days.
It’s the cultivated variety of Brassica juncea that produces reddish brown to dark brown seeds. The seeds are spherical or oval, 2mm or less in diameter, with predominant netting and thick ridges.
It is primarily grown for European market for condiment specialty mustards such as Dijon mustard.
3. Brassica juncea (Oriental Mustard)
Also known as Oriental Mustard and is primarily exported to Japan
It is the cultivated variety of Brassica juncea that produces predominantly yellow to dark yellow seeds, with some seeds ranging from light brown to brown.
It’s an annual herbaceous plant that reaches maturity in 95 to 105. The seeds are oval, 1.2 to 2.0 mm wide and 1.6 to 3.0 long, with predominant netting and fine ridges.
It is primarily grown for the Japanese market and is primarily for condiment use.
It is also used to produce a spicy mustard cooking oil in some Asian markets.
Mustard oil is not used as a cooking oil in North America and Europe due to high levels of Euricic acid.
Below is a photo of Brown and Yellow Mustard Seeds
4. Brassica nigra (L.) Koch (Black Mustard)
This used to be an important mustard plant in the 1950s but has been replaced by Brassica juncea (Brown Mustard) because its pods (siliques) spontaneously split open and disperse the seeds as they mature. This makes it very difficult to harvest the seeds mechanically and therefore it’s not economically viable.
Wild white mustard (Sinapis hirta) grows wild in North Africa, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe, and has spread farther by long cultivation.