What Is Wild Mustard?
Wild mustard is a type of herbaceous perennial flowering plants with small white flowers. They are native to North America from Canada to Mexico. These plants have been cultivated for food and medicinal purposes since ancient times. Their seeds contain a bitter oil that is used in cooking as well as other uses such as medicine or perfume. The leaves of wild mustard are edible but they do not taste very good unless cooked into a salad dressing (see recipe below).
How To Identify Wild Mustard Plants?
The easiest way to tell wild mustard apart from any other kind of mustard is its flowers. The flowers are white and resemble tiny daffodils. You will see them only once every few years during their short blooming period. If you miss one flower, it won’t bloom again until next year. When the flowers appear, they are so small that you may not even notice them if you don’t pay attention.
You might also recognize wild mustard from its seed pods. They are round and black with a single white spot at the top.
The seeds inside these pods are similar to those found in common mustard seed except they have a slightly different shape and size.
When Will Wild Mustard Flower?
Wild mustard flowers from February all the way until May. The flowers only bloom for 1-2 weeks and then disappear. If you miss the window in which they bloom, you will have to wait another year before they bloom again.
How Long Does It Take For Wild Mustard To Grow?
You can expect wild mustard to reach its full height by the beginning of summer (June or July). However, it takes about 3 months from the time the seed gets planted to reach its full height and that doesn’t account for bad weather conditions. Seedlings may get burnt by the sun if you plant them too early in the year. The same applies if you plant them too late. You can expect it to be at least 6 months from when you first plant the seeds before they reach their full height.
How To Make Wild Mustard Plants Bloom?
To make wild mustard plants bloom, you need to grow them from seed. You can collect the seeds directly from a plant or you can harvest them after they have fallen to the ground. The easiest way is to just buy them online.
How Do You Collect Wild Mustard Seeds?
You harvest wild mustard seeds by collecting them directly from plants when they are ripe. The ripe seed heads are usually black in color and the seeds rattle inside when you shake them. Some plants may still be green even though they have seeds inside so make sure to pick them carefully. You can also collect the seeds that have fallen on the ground. If you do this, make sure you don’t collect any other plants such as turnips, cabbage, or radish seeds since they look similar to wild mustard seeds.
What Do Wild Mustard Plants Look Like?
Wild Mustard plants are small and thin. They only grow up to about a foot in height. You can recognize them by the following distinct features:
Flat-topped yellow flower heads that resemble dandelions. They usually bloom from April to August but may bloom longer in warmer climates.
The stem is hairy and grooved and has a jagged outline.
The leaves are thin and lanceolate shaped with a pungent smell.
The seed pods are flat and papery when mature and the seeds rattle inside.
How Do You Eat Wild Mustard Seed?
You can eat wild mustard seed just like you would eat regular mustard seeds. The only difference is that they have a more pungent taste so you might not want to use them as a spice in cooking. Most people just crush the seeds and add them to their regular meals.
How Do You Cook Wild Mustard?
When cooking wild mustard, you should not eat the leaves, stems or roots. You can cook the flower buds, flowers, and the seeds. The flowers are very delicate so be careful when handling them. The flowers can be eaten on their own or used to make a wild mustard sauce which is particularly popular in India. The seeds can be eaten cooked or raw. They add a pungent flavor to dishes such as salads and sandwiches.
How Do You Preserve Wild Mustard?
You can preserve wild mustard by drying the flower buds and flowers. Once dried, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place such as a cupboard. You can also freeze them. The seeds can be stored for a short period of time in the fridge. They do not need to be preserved since they last a long time when stored correctly.
When Is The Best Time To Pick Wild Mustard?
The best time to pick wild mustard is in the spring when the plants are in full bloom. They can also be picked during the summer months. You should not pick them during the fall or winter since they go to sleep during this time and will be difficult to use or eat.
Where Can I Find Wild Mustard?
You can find wild mustard almost anywhere in the northern hemisphere. They grow abundantly in open fields, meadows, and on hillsides. They like damp soil and cool climates so you are most likely to find them in mountainous or hilly areas.
What’s The Best Way To Harvest Wild Mustard?
You should carefully pick wild mustard plants just before they bloom since this is when they are at their peak. Gather a large handful and lay them out on a tarp in full sun so they can be dried. You can also place them on racks and leave them in the sun or you can place them close to a heat source but not so close that they catch on fire. This will take several hours. After they are dry, remove the stems and store them as mentioned above.
How Do You Eat Wild Onions?
The wild onion, also known as the field garlic, snake garlic, crow garlic, etc., is a common sight in open woodland areas and moist fields. It has a distinctive flavor and odor and can be used in place of the domestic onion. It looks like a giant green onion and can be used in any recipe that calls for onions. The leaves, stems, and roots are also edible. They have a pungent smell and taste so should be used sparingly.
Sources & references used in this article:
A field guide to medicinal plants and herbs of eastern and central North America by S Foster, JA Duke – 2000 – books.google.com
Culinary herbs by E Small – 2006 – NRC Research Press
A field guide to western medicinal plants and herbs by S Foster, C Hobbs – 2002 – books.google.com
Herbal: the essential guide to herbs for living by J Larkcom – 2008 – Kodansha America
Rodale’s 21st-century Herbal: A Practical Guide for Healthy Living Using Nature’s Most Powerful Plants by A Kruger – 1999 – Parkgate Books
The herb book: the most complete catalog of herbs ever published by D Brown – 2015 – books.google.com