Ground mustard seeds (called "sinapis") were first mentioned in Roman writings dating back to the pre-Christian period. It was also the Romans who were the first to grow mustard plants north of the Alps, and by the early Middle Ages mustard production had become common all over Europe. Today, France, Germany and the UK are the leading producers of mustard for use as a condiment.
Raw materials and recipes
The composition of mustard varies considerably according to the recipe. Its taste is largely determined by the mustard seed. Either white (yellow) seeds (Sinapis alba) or the black (brown) variety (Brassica nigra) is used, or in some cases a mixture of the two in varying proportions. German mustard is mainly produced from white seeds while Dijon mustard is always made from the black type, which accounts for the difference in taste. The white seeds contain sinalbin, which gives them their pungent flavour; the brown variety contains allyl mustard oil, which is much sharper.