Dijon Mustard

From Cook's Country | June/July 2008

Overview:

To be labeled Dijon, a mustard must adhere to the formula developed more than 150 years ago in Dijon, France. Finely ground brown or black mustard seeds are mixed with an acidic liquid (vinegar, wine, and/or grape must) and sparsely seasoned with salt and sometimes a hint of spice. Dijon should be smooth and have a clean, nose-tingling heat. To find out which Dijon mustard is best, we rounded up eight nationally available brands and tasted them plain and in a simple mustard vinaigrette. What did we find out?

Our tasters preferred spicier mustards. The three hottest mustards were our tasters’ overall favorites. Interestingly, when we measured the pH level of each brand, this hot trio also proved to be the least acidic. (Note that a higher pH value equals lower acidity.) A peek inside the mustard- making process explains why. When mustard seeds are ground, an enzyme called myrosinase is released. The myrosinase activates the mustard’s dormant heat-producing chemicals (called glucosinolates), but the addition of acid retards this… read more

To be labeled Dijon, a mustard must adhere to the formula developed more than 150 years ago in Dijon, France. Finely ground brown or black mustard seeds are mixed with an acidic liquid (vinegar, wine, and/or grape must) and sparsely seasoned with salt and sometimes a hint of spice. Dijon should be smooth and have a clean, nose-tingling heat. To find out which Dijon mustard is best, we rounded up eight nationally available brands and tasted them plain and in a simple mustard vinaigrette. What did we find out?

Our tasters preferred spicier mustards. The three hottest mustards were our tasters’ overall favorites. Interestingly, when we measured the pH level of each brand, this hot trio also proved to be the least acidic. (Note that a higher pH value equals lower acidity.) A peek inside the mustard- making process explains why. When mustard seeds are ground, an enzyme called myrosinase is released. The myrosinase activates the mustard’s dormant heat-producing chemicals (called glucosinolates), but the addition of acid retards this reaction. So less acid produces a mustard with more heat-producing chemicals. These heat-producing chemicals, however, are volatile and will dissipate over time. For this reason, we recommend checking “use by” dates, buying fresher mustards when possible, and never storing Dijon for more than six months.

What other qualities mattered? The presence or absence of wine in these mustards did not impact results: Grey Poupon has it, but Maille and Roland do not. Country of origin didn’t matter either, as Grey Poupon is made in the United States, Maille in Canada, and Roland in France. What was important was balance. Mustards that were too acidic, too salty, or muddied with other flavors were downgraded by our tasters.

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  • Product Tested

    Price*

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

    This "potent," "bold" American-made mustard was deemed the hottest by taster. It "gets you in the nose like a Dijon should." A "nice balance of sweet, tangy, and sharp" sealed the deal for one happy taster, who declared, "I want this on my ham and cheese sandwich."

    $3.79 for 10 ounces

  • Highly Recommended

    Maille Dijon Originale Traditional Dijon Mustard

    It had a "nice balance of head and complexity," with tasters calling out "perfume-y" flavors of "smoke," "butter," "fruit," and "pepper." It was the second hottest mustard in our lineup.

    $3.99 for 7.5 ounces

  • Highly Recommended

    Roland Extra Strong Dijon Mustard

    This French mustard features a "sharp horseradish bite" and "nasal heat" and was the third hottest mustard overall. Taster loved the "smoky," "oaky," and "meaty" flavors. "Surprising complexity."

    $4.79 for 13 ounces

  • Recommended

    Jack Daniel's Stone Ground Dijon Mustard

    Tasters didn't detect much heat in this "mild and sweet" sample when tasting it plain, but its heat bloomed in the vinaigrette, whether it was deemed "robust" and "salty" (it had the most salt of any sample).

    $3.49 for 9 ounces

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Annie's Naturals Organic Dijon Mustard

    This sample's "warm spice flavor" hurt its overall scores: "weird sweet and spicy-y notes" was a common complaint. Tasters thought this mustard was too acidic, noting its "tart" character.

    $3.49 for 9 ounces

  • Recommended with Reservations

    French's Dijon Mustard

    "Highly acidic- almost tastes pickled," "way too much vinegar," and "overly tangy without balance" were common complaints. Still, some tasters thought it was passable, calling this supermarket standard "not remarkable, but not terrible" and "like ballpark mustard."

    $2.99 for 9 ounces

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Westbrae Natural Dijon Style Mustard

    This mustard tied for the most acidic and had the least amount of salt, prompting tasters to describe it as "lacking depth," "with no interesting dance of flavors." A few did like its "mellow, building heat."

    $2.50 for 8 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Plochman's Premium Dijon Mustard

    Tasters were disappointed that this "watery," "sour," "fruity and weak" sample had "no head or complexity." "Sissy mustard" sums up its performance.

    $2.99 for 9 ounces

*PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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