What You Should Consider Before Buying Mustard Close To Its Expiration

Mustard goes back a long way. In Europe, it has been around since Roman times. Here in the states, particularly in California, Spanish missionaries propagated black mustard seeds to create guide paths from mission to mission (per KCET).

Today, we see the results of that history. We love mustard. Though we come nowhere near as close to the levels Global Trade Magazine reports of European mustard consumption — the Germans alone consume 202 tons — who can imagine a hot dog without mustard? It's a condiment, as Food and Wine put it, with an enormous spectrum of uses, from vinaigrettes and rubs for roasts to additives for mashed potatoes and steamed mussels. Even Van Leeuwen, the French-style ice cream, has a Grey Poupon flavor, according to The Takeout

Despite its long history as a favored condiment, mustard is one of those things people either really love or hate. For anyone in the "loves mustard camp" who loves mustard with a bit more heat, there is a shopping tip to consider: buying mustard farther out from its expiration date.

Buy mustard far out from its expiration date

While this may seem like a no-brainer, there is a scientific reason behind buying your mustard so far from its expiration. Serious Eats recommends purchasing your mustard with "expiration dates over six months from the day you buy them." The reason has to do with mustard's main ingredient: mustard seeds. 

Mustard seeds are designed by nature to be pungent. According to Britannica, they contain specific enzymes that create volatile and nonvolatile mustard oil when crushed and combined with water. Yellow mustard seeds produce nonvolatile oil and therefore tend to be milder than brown or black seeds, which make the volatile oil. Adding hot or cold water, aromatic herbs, or vinegar will determine the level of heat in your mustard and stabilize the acidic reaction to create a more balanced flavor. 

So, buying your mustard over six months from its expiration date will help ensure that you're buying hot, flavorful mustard.