The pungent mustard plant belongs to the same family as broccoli, cabbage, turnips, and— no surprise— horseradish. We sometimes eat the greens , though we’re probably most familiar with the paste ground from the seeds— a spice used so much it has a chart of its own. Mustard seeds come in three varieties.

Yellow and white mustard seeds The largest of the mustard seeds, and the mildest. Their pleasant spiciness makes them good for everyday ground and prepared mustards, though I prefer them used in combination with other mustards or spices.

Brown mustard seeds The most pungent mustard, ranging from reddish to brown. The sharpest Chinese-, German-, and English-style mustards are all based on these.

Black mustard seeds Indian cooking often features these slightly oblong seeds, which are sharp. In ground mustards they help add another dimension and deepen the color.

Grainy Mustard

Makes: 1 ½ cups | Time: 15 minutes, plus a day or two to soak the seeds

Like mayonnaise, homemade mustard is superior to almost anything you can buy, and is endlessly customizable— see the list that follows. Only it’s easier. If you need mustard right away, grind the seeds in a spice grinder and slowly add the liquids until you get the consistency you want. It will be sharper and less subtle, but that’s not always a bad thing.

  • ¼ cup yellow mustard seeds (about 1 ½ ounces)
  • ¼ cup brown or black mustard seeds (about 1 ½ ounces)
  • ½ cup red wine or water
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar or malt vinegar, or any vinegar with at least 5 percent acidity
  • Pinch salt

Put all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid or other sealed glass or ceramic container. (Don’t use metal; it will corrode.) Shake or stir, then let soak for a day or 2.

Put the mixture in a blender and purée for several minutes to grind, adding a little extra water as needed to keep the machine running. Stop and scrape the sides down once or twice and repeat. You’ll never get the mustard as smooth as Dijon, but you can control the coarseness by how long you blend. Taste and add more salt if you like.

Return the mustard to the container and cover tightly. Store in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for up to several months. The mustard will be quite sharp at first, but it will thicken and mellow with time.

Pickled Mustard Seeds A surprising garnish that accomplishes the same heat: Use white wine or water in place of the red wine. Do not purée the mixture in Step 2; instead use as is, adding the whole seeds to dishes before, during, or after cooking.

14 Ways to Flavor Grainy Mustard

Start with ½ cup mustard and stir in the following ingredients. Note that using fresh herbs, fruit, or vegetables will reduce the mustard’s storage time to a week.

1. Mustard Relish: Add ½ cup chopped sweet pickle and ¼ cup each chopped red onion and red bell pepper.

2. Tarragon Mustard: Add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon.

3. Rosemary Mustard: Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary.

4. Tomato Mustard: Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste.

5. Honey Mustard: Add 2 tablespoons honey.

6. Horseradish Mustard: Add 1 teaspoon freshly grated or prepared horseradish, or more to taste.

7. Molasses Mustard: Add 1 tablespoon molasses.

8. Balsamic Mustard: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste.

9. Creole Mustard: Add ¼ teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste.

10. Roasted Garlic Mustard: Add 2 or 3 cloves Roasted Garlic , mashed with a fork.

11. Peach Mustard: Add ¼ cup fresh peach purée (1 medium peach, peeled, pitted, sliced, and puréed or mashed with a fork).

12. Mango Mustard: Add ¼ cup fresh mango purée (½ medium mango, peeled, pitted, cubed, and puréed or mashed with a fork).

13. Brewhouse Mustard: Instead of the red wine or water, use ½ cup strong-flavored beer, like stout, porter, bock, or dark or amber ale.

14. Mock Mostarda: For a shortcut to the fruity Italian sauce (usually served with rich meats), combine ½ cup mustard with ¼ cup orange marmalade or cherry or apricot preserves. Add 2 tablespoons cider vinegar.