So I'm moving.
And in the process of organizing and tossing, I came upon a small container of mustard seeds that I had purchased four years earlier for some Indian dishes I was making. Evidently I didn't use too many of the mustard seeds, as the jar was nearly full.
A month earlier I had been visiting with my friend Soyoung in San Francisco when she pulled out a large French glass canning jar full of whole grain mustard. Her husband, James, stated, as if an uncontestable truth, "Soyoung's mustard is the best in the world." Surprised, I asked her how she made it. "I soak the seeds in Gewürztraminer, then I grind it and add salt." After I spooned a healthy portion on to my plate, I excitedly dipped my fork in and tasted. James was right. It was the best mustard I had tasted. I was determined to try my hand at it when I got home.
But then I forgot. I busied myself with packing (my last day in my place is June 30th, but I'm anxious to get the packing done so that I can enjoy the early summer in Chicago without the worry). Going through my spices last night, I rediscovered the mustard and my long forgotten ambition.
I grabbed an open bottle of Cour-Cheverny from my refrigerator, which I haven't been enjoying as much as other bottles of Loire wine (perhaps because I am spoiled by my more regular downing of Savennieres). I covered the seeds in the wine and left them out at room temperature overnight.
I tried the seeds after they had soaked for a few hours. It didn't taste spicy. I let it continue to sit.
The next morning I gave the seeds another taste. They had become pleasantly hot. I drained the wine out and set it aside so the seeds would be easier to grind in my mortar and pestle. Here's what they looked like before I ground them:
I then ground them for a few minutes:
The seed coats separated from the yellow seed easily, but the seed was still a little firm. I pounded the seeds a little more:
Since the seed and the skins were still pretty tough, I covered them in the reserved wine I used for soaking.
I added a little acetic acid to it in the form of sauerkraut juice and let it sit a little longer and then gave it a robust mashing. Here's what it looks like on day 3:
I made a few more batches after this. The most important thing I've learned is that the longer it is left out to soak at room temperature, the hotter it gets. The last batch I made was during a rather warm week, and I left it out for nearly 5 days before grinding. It was extremely spicy at that point, but then after grinding I left it in my car for another 2 days, and it was so hot that even a whiff burned the hairs on the inside of my nose.
It was, hands down, the most popular batch I made.