Cranberries & habanero peppers: two of my favorite things. It’s so unfortunate that I really loathe mustard, because this condiment would be right up my alley: spicy, gingery, puckery, gorgeously pink-hued. Alas, the mustard and I, we just don’t get along. The husband, though, is a mustard-loving fool (hence the plethora of Evil Seed recipes herein), as are many other people: homemade mustard is a gift that never fails to impress, yet is simple & thrifty to make.
As one of the earliest posts to this blog, this one was long overdue for an update and photo makeover. At the same time, I tweaked the recipe a bit; decreasing the sugar slightly, changing the method so that you make a simple cranberry sauce, with some intact whole berries, first, then stir in puréed mustard seed, giving the final mustard a bit more texture, and cooking the mustard itself for a much shorter time, in order to minimize bitterness. Even so, this mustard should sit on the shelf for a least a month before using, for the flavors to blend and the heat of the habaneros to simmer down.
According to Tai, Mustard Taster Extraordinaire, this one is sweet, and holy-glass-of-milk-Batman spicy, going into the jars. In my experience with other mustard lovers, it mellows on the shelf to nicely spicy, but not too hot to eat, lightly sweet with a tart cranberry flavor that shines through. It all sounds so lovely… except that pesky mustard part.
Heavily adapted from Cranberry Mustard in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry, L. Devine, eds.
- 1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
- ⅔ cup yellow mustard seed (try Penzey’s for affordable dry mustard & mustard seed)
- 1 cup water
- 4 cups organic cranberries (Cranberry Hill), fresh or frozen
- ¾ cup organic brown sugar, lightly packed
- 2-4 habanero peppers (fresh or frozen), with or without seeds, as desired (I used 3 large chiles, 2 with seeds)
- 2 tbsp local honey
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp dry mustard (optional)
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar and mustard seeds. Let sit, covered, until the seeds absorb almost all of the vinegar, about 4 – 8 hours, or overnight.
- If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids.
- In a medium stockpot, combine cranberries and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until most cranberries have burst, about 20 minutes. Uncover, add brown sugar, and continue to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced and syrupy, about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a food processor with metal blade, combine mustard seeds (with any remaining liquid), habanero peppers., and honey. Process until most seeds are well-chopped; retain some seeds for a nice grainy texture. Add more water through the feed tube, 1 tbsp at a time, if the mixture seems too dry (is not moving easily within the processor). Transfer mixture to the stockpot; whisk in ground ginger and salt. Taste and add dry mustard, in 1 tbsp increments, as desired; adjust sweetener, spice, ginger, etc. Remember that the heat of the habaneros will mellow over time; make it spicier than you want your final product to be.
- Once you have the taste profile you like, bring the mustard to a boil over low heat, stirring frequently. If necessary, continue to simmer to reduce and thicken the mustard; otherwise, ladle hot mustard into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch of head space. Bubble the jars carefully and tamp the thick mustard firmly into the jars by tapping jar on a wooden board or dish towel. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 5 cups.
- Add chiles according to your taste. I recommend starting with about half of the peppers you think you will want; you can easily add more, but it’s hard to make it less spicy if you overdo it.
- From the original, I increased the vinegar by 1/4 cup and the cranberries by 1 and 1/4 cups, which should be ample acidity to compensate for the addition of the small amount of low-acid habanero peppers.
- I replaced allspice in the original recipe (2 and 1/2 tsp) with ground ginger. Any of the cinnamon, clove, allspice variety of Fall flavors would work nicely here. Juniper is also a lovely spice with cranberries; a few juniper berries tossed in with the mustard seeds to soak could be interesting.
Cranberries are in season in Fall through early Winter, and habanero peppers in late Summer & Fall, but with frozen berries & chiles, this mustard is easy to make year round.