Immature flowering stems - cooked and eaten like broccoli. Mustard seed is commonly ground into a powder and used as a food flavouring and relish. This is the black mustard of commerce, it is widely used as a food relish and as an ingredient of curry. Pungency of mustard develops when cold water is added to the ground-up seed - an enzyme (myrosin) acts on a glycoside (sinigrin) to produce a sulphur compound. The reaction takes 10 - 15 minutes. Mixing with hot water or vinegar, or adding salt, inhibits the enzyme and produces a mild bitter mustard. The seed can also be used whole to season pickles, curries, sauerkraut etc. Black mustard has a stronger more pungent flavour than white mustard (Sinapis alba) and brown mustard (B. juncea).An edible oil is obtained from the seed.
The plant is often grown as a green manure, it is very fast, producing a bulk suitable for digging into the soil in about 8 weeks. Not very winter hardy, it is generally used in spring and summer. It does harbour the pests and diseases of the cabbage family so is probably best avoided where these plants are grown in a short rotation and especially if club root is a problem.Mustard oil (allyl isothiocyanate) is used in commercial cat and dog repellent mixtures.
Hot water poured onto bruised mustard seeds makes a stimulating foot bath and can also be used as an inhaler where it acts to throw off a cold or dispel a headache.Mustard Oil is said to stimulate hair growth. Mustard is also recommended as an aperient ingredient of tea, useful in hiccup. Mustard flour is considered antiseptic.
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Black mustard is adapted to a wide variety of climatic conditions, it is often grown in the temperate zone though it is mainly suited to tropical areas, and grown chiefly as a rainfed crop in areas of low or moderate rainfall. Black mustard is often cultivated for its edible seed, though it is going out of favour because it rapidly sheds its seeds once they are ripe and this makes it harder to harvest mechanically than the less pungent brown mustard (Brassica juncea).. This is used especially as a food flavouring, though it is also sown with the seeds of garden cress (Lepidium sativum) to provide mustard and cress, a salading eaten when the seedlings are about one week old. Black mustard is also grown as a medicinal plant. It germinates freely and quickly grows rapidly and makes a very useful green manure. The plants are not very winter hardy so the seed is best sown in the spring when grown for its seed whilst it can be sown as late as late summer as a green manure crop.The flowers have a pleasing perfume, though this is only noticed if several flowers are inhaled at the same time.
Problems, pests & diseases
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