From the ballpark to the kitchen table, mustard is the unsung hero of the condiment community. People take for granted its semi-spicy zing of flavor, and the way it can give a boost to even the blandest of sandwiches. The name “mustard” comes down to us from a Latin phrase meaning, “burning wine,” due to the fiery flavor mustard seeds added to ancient unfermented grape juice. Although I can’t imagine any situation where I would squirt a dollop of mustard into my glass of pinot noir, there are a number of amazing, unconventional mustard uses that can improve your everyday life. As if tasting awesome on a corn dog isn’t enough?
Mustard Seed Benefits
Mustard seed contains selenium, which has been found to lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. It also contains magnesium, which is needed for healthy bones, muscle function, and has been shown to lower blood pressure in some studies. Even though prepared mustard dilutes these minerals somewhat from the original seed, your body will still absorb the nutrients from your lunch, and reap these mustard seed benefits. So go ahead, add a little extra mustard nutrition to your hoagie, and say to your wife, “It’s like vitamins, honey.”
Mustard for Burns
One of the best mustard uses is for burns. Since many minor skin burns occur near the kitchen stove, mustard can usually be found nearby. Although there are many home remedies for burns, such as a cold pack or oatmeal, many people who’ve tried it actually head for the refrigerator door first, and slather on a generous smattering of yellow mustard. Mustard for burns relieves the stinging almost instantly, and stimulates healing.
Soothe a Sore Throat
Mustard has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. One of the oldest apothecary tricks uses mustard to soothe a sore throat. Heat up about one cup of water, then stir in two tablespoons of mild mustard, a pinch of salt, some lemon juice, and a spoonful of honey (locally farmed honey, if it’s available). If you’re feeling especially daring, add half a shot of whiskey, too. Do the finger test to make sure the water is not too hot, then slowly sip your concoction until it’s gone. The taste won’t make you rush back for more, but it’s not terrible, either. It will soothe the pain of your sore throat, and the effect will last for a day or so.
Get the Smell Out of Containers
One of the oldest tricks in the book is using mustard to neutralize skunk smell. If you’re like me, though, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the spray of the skunk. Mustard, however, is great for removing all types of odors. If you have a reusable plastic container or glass bottle, and the scent of the previous contents seems to linger inside, just fill it up with hot water and some mustard. Seal the lid, and shake it for a minute or so, then let it sit. After a couple of hours, pour out the mustard solution, and give it a quick rinse with soap and water. Almost any smell will have disappeared.
Mustard Face Mask
Remember all those times that your mom got fussy with you for having dry mustard on your face and she cleaned it off with a tissue soaked in her own saliva? Little did she know you were actually preserving your own youthful appearance. The vitamins and minerals found in mustard are great in all-natural face masks. Spread a bunch of mustard all over your face, let it dry for about 15 minutes, then rinse it off. You’ll have a smoother, brighter looking face. Part of the effects of a mustard face mask might be residual golden tones from the the yellow mustard, but who knows. Try testing a small area of your neck or jaw line before you do your whole face, because the stimulating benefits of mustard can be pretty intense to sensitive skin.
Relax Muscles & Soothe Sore Feet
People all over the world use mustard to relieve soreness. Many athletes carry around packets of mustard for leg cramps and tightness of the muscles. The vitamins and minerals, along with the vinegar found in prepared mustard, cause the nervous system to relax, and reduce cramping and muscle contractions. Just eat a tablespoon of mustard when you start feeling those muscles twitch. Mustard can also be used externally to soothe muscles. In fact, some synthetic topical pain relievers were designed to replicate the stimulating effect of mustard on muscles. To make a paste, use dry ground mustard, along with a little bit of flour and water, and an egg if you’ve got it, and stir it into a thick goop. Soak a piece of gauze or a washcloth in the mixture, and apply to the sore area. You can also mix dry ground mustard and salt into warm water to create a foot bath, or even a full body soak to sooth sore feet and relieve all-over achiness.
Mustard Oil for Hair Growth
Everyone loves great hair. It’s a signal of virility and coolness. Mustard oil, when used as a hair treatment, offers a number of benefits to help you get a more dapper ‘do. Whether you suffer from dry hair, or slow growing roots, mustard oil contains vitamins like beta-carotene, and fatty acids that strengthen hair follicles and stimulate growth on the scalp. Rubbing table mustard into your forehead won’t change the direction of a receding hairline, but many cultures have used mustard oil for hair growth through the millennia, and the tradition shows no signs of stopping.
Put it in a Cocktail
It might sound crazy, but yes, mustard can be used in a cocktail! A Bloody Mary cocktail is an easy home for mustard, since some recipes already call for horseradish. Sweet mustards, like Dijon, are also great in a shot of tequila. For the adventurous cocktail lover, try this recipe for Mustard Punch cocktails, which combines gin, lime juice, and brandy.