Saturday, May 16, 2015


Mustard greens are known to be zesty, flavorful additions to salads, stir fries, sandwiches and classic southern dishes. 

My personal favorite use of mustard is a wrap! Forget the bread. Forget the tortilla. Grab a giant red or green mustard leaf from the garden! Wrap up some goodies! The colors are beautiful. The flavor is surprisingly mild, yet distinctive. 

I love to fill large mustard leaves with chopped and seasoned seafoods... tuna, shrimp, smoked salmon, crab or halibut. 
Or, how about curried chunks of chicken with chopped celery and crumbled cashews? Or, egg salad with olives?

Here is the process in photos.  This is a mixture of lots of dungeness crab with chives and a little mayo:

Scoop a good amount onto the large, clean mustard leaf:

Fold over both sides:

Roll it up:

 Add garnish. Here the garnish is sprigs of cauliflower:

Grow mustard as you would other greens. Best to start  seeds indoors any time between April and July. I like to start mustard plants in April and again late in June or early July.

There are several varieties of mustard. For the wrap, I recommend the giant red:

Mustard plants can also be grown for the seeds. Once the mustard plant flowers, seed pods form full of many, many seeds! Mustard seeds can be crushed and used to make the popular mustard condiments we eat on sandwiches and hot dogs. The darker the seed, the hotter and spicier the mustard! Mustard seeds are also used for cooking. Mustard seeds are used for pickling. If you are growing mustard plants especially for the seeds, try growing the milder white seeds, Brassica alba. 

Decide which variety and how many plants you would like to grow.  

Fill pots with potting or seed starting soil.
Make two to four 1/4 inch indentations in each small pot of soil. Place a mustard seed in each indentation. Cover the seeds with soil. What you see here are 4" pots:

After the seeds are planted, water the pots gently until well moistened with warm water.

Place the pots in a container in your warmest indoor location  or on a seed warming mat. Cover with plastic. Keep moist.

Mustard seeds usually germinate  in 4 to 10 days. Once they sprout, no need for the plastic cover or the warming mat. Place them in your sunniest indoor location, a cold frame or a greenhouse.

Mustard starts grow quickly. Once the plants are two to three inches tall
plant outside in a sunny spot in fertile soil with about one square foot of space allowed for each plant. Best to cover with a floating row cover early and late in the season so the plants do not get too cold.

Mustard plants do well in cool, moist conditions. If grown in a climate that is too warm, mustard tends to go to seed prematurely. This is called bolting. The plant will likely produce few leaves and seeds if the plant bolts. If grown in a cooler climate like Sitka, mustard will grow and mature gradually... resulting first in lots of large, healthy leaves and finally with seed packed pods.

When harvesting leaves, pinch them off as needed from the outside of the plant. 

As the mustard plant matures, yellow flowers (sometimes white) will appear and gradually become seed pods. This can happen in as few as sixty days after planting. The leaves of the plant turn yellow and the pods turn brown when it is time to harvest the seeds. The trick is to harvest the seed pods before they burst open! Harvest and place the seed pods in a paper bag until they mature and burst. Shake the bag to loosen the seeds from the pods entirely. Use seeds fresh after harvesting. If you have an abundance of mustard seeds, dry them thoroughly and store them in an air tight container for later use.

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