Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae), Brassica species
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Mustard refers to several Brassica species that are valued for
their spicy and pungent dried seeds. Native to Eurasia, the species
is widely cultivated in Europe and North America. Black mustard,
Brassica nigra (L.) W. D. J. Koch, is a many-branched
annual with yellow flowers. Formerly classified as Sinapis
nigra L., the plant, whose seeds are used in table mustard,
reaches a height of 2 meters. Brown mustard, Brassica juncea
(L.) Czerniak, is an annual with yellow flowers. Also known as
Indian mustard, leaf mustard, and mustard greens, the plant was
classified as Brassica rugosa Hort. and Sinapis juncea
L. Seeds of this species are used for table mustard and leaves
are used as salad greens. White mustard, Brassica hirta
Moench., is an annual with yellow flowers and hairy seed pods.
Formerly classified as Brassica alba (L.) Rabenh. and Sinapis
alba L., the plant is cultivated for seeds used in table mustard
and leaves used as salad greens. Rape refers to Brassica napus
L., colza or Argentine rape, and Brassica rapa L., field
mustard. Reaching a height of 1 meter, these plants have branching
stems, yellow flowers, brown fruit, and brown-black seeds.
The seeds are the source of rapeseed or colza oil, used as industrial
lubricating oil and edible salad oil.
The reported life zone for mustard and rape is 5 to 27 degrees
centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 4.2 meters and
a soil pH of 4.2 to 8.3 (4.1-31). The mustards are best adapted
to sandy loam soils with limited rainfall. Rape is a cool-season
crop that grows best in clay or clay-loam soils. Cultivation
of mustard and rape crops is completely mechanized. The crops
are sown in the spring and harvested in the fall. Fully ripe fruit
shatters, and the crop must therefore be harvested before the
plants reach this growth stage.
The aroma and flavor of mustard comes from the essential oil (which
can now be made synthetically) contained as glucosides inside
the seeds (14.1-11). Powdered mustard has essentially no
aroma until it is moistened. The enzymatic action of myrosin on
the glucoside sinigrin in black and brown mustard or on sinalbin
in white mustard releases the mustard oil, which consists principally
of allyl isothiocyanate in black and brown mustards and of p-hydroxybenzyl
isothiocyanate in white mustard, the compounds responsible for
the pungency (1.5-151, 1.6-41). The steam-extracted
volatile oil of black and brown mustard is about 94% allyl isothiocyanate,
and it also contains some allyl cyanide and carbon disulfide (14.1-11).
The essential oil of white mustard is extracted from seeds with
Mustard seed and seed products are used extensively in the food
industry, in meats, sausages, processed vegetables, and relishes.
White mustard is generally used for flavoring, and black and brown
mustards are generally used for aroma (14.1-11). Mustard
seeds are processed to yield mustard flour, from which table mustard
and other condiments are made. Ground mustard, powdered dry mustard,
prepared mustard, mustard paste, and whole seeds are commercially
available. White, brown, and black mustards are blended to secure
the desired flavor and aroma. White mustard seed is used as a
spice in cucumber pickling. Prepared English and French mustards
are usually made from brown mustard seeds, to which are added
capers, white wine, and vinegar. Mustards are used in mayonnaise
and other products as emulsion stabilizers, antioxidants, and
antifungal agents (11.1-126). In addition to providing seed
oil for industry and food products, rape plants are grown as forage
crops for livestock and to produce seed for bird feed.
As a medicinal plant, mustard has traditionally been considered
a digestive irritant, rubefacient, and stimulant. Mustard has
been used as a folk remedy against arthritis, rheumatism, inflammation,
and toothache. The powdered seeds act as a stimulant to gastric
mucosa and increase pancreatic secretions (11.1-96). Contact
of mustard extract with skin can cause blistering. Isothiocyanate
in mustard oil considered poisonous and mutagenic, has induced
goiter in laboratory animals (7.6-5). Pharmaceutically, mustards
are considered emetics and counterirritants in humans and animals,
and are used as carminatives in veterinary practices (14.1-35).
Brassica juncea (L.) Czerniak var. crispifolia L.
H. Bailey, curled mustard, var. foliosa L. H. Bailey, broad-leaved
mustard, and other Brassica species are commonly used as
Black, brown, and white mustard are generally recognized as safe
for human consumption as spices/natural flavorings and as plant
extracts (21 CFR sections 182.10, 182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997