What Are Mustard Seeds? (Types, From Which Plant + More)

No doubt you enjoy mustard in your hotdogs and sandwiches. If you think it’s related to the mustard seed that’s mentioned as a symbol in Christianity and Buddhism, you’re right.

But condiments and religions aside, what exactly are mustard seeds? I did some research and here’s what I found out!

What Are Mustard Seeds?

Mustard seeds are the main ingredient when making mustard. As the second most used spice in the United States, they are very popular in culinary use. The most common types of mustard seeds are brown, yellow or white, and black. They are not only used to make mustard but to produce mustard oil, flour, and spices as well.

Aside from being where the famous mustard comes from, what else is there to the mustard seed? Let’s find out more below!

What Plant Is The Mustard Seed From?

Mustard seeds come from plants in the family Brassicaceae, some species of which were already well established in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The mustard seed plant has two principal types of different origins. The yellow or white is of Mediterranean origin and the brown is of Himalayan origin.

Mustard plants grow quickly in temperate climates but prefer moist terrains and sunny areas. Some are grown for their leaves to be vegetables and others for their seedlings.

These plants are annual plants, growing 1-2 meters with long, branched stems. They produce clusters of bright yellow flowers and are resistant to drought and cold.

What Are The Different Types Of Mustard Seed?

There are many varieties of a mustard seed but the three most common types are brown, yellow, and black.

Brown mustard seed comes from the Brassica juncea plant and is often known as Indian mustard. It has many varieties and their colors range from dark brown to dark yellow.

On the other hand, the black mustard seed variety comes from the family Brassica nigra. These seeds are usually removed from their coats and are very small.

Furthermore, the black mustard plant is becoming increasingly rare as a crop, and as a result, black mustard seeds are hard to come by.

In addition, the Sinapis alba or the yellow or white mustard plant is not as closely related to the brown and black mustard plant variety.

The seeds of the yellow mustard are slightly bigger than the brown ones and are usually pale yellow.

There is also field mustard or Sinapis arvensis but this mostly grows in the wild and is considered a weed in most areas.

How are Mustard Seeds Used?

How are Mustard Seeds Used?

Different kinds of mustard seeds have a variety of uses.

Mustard seeds are most notable for being used in making the mustard condiment, sometimes mixed in as a dry powder or as whole or coarsely ground seeds.

Whole mustard seeds when toasted in oil, bring out aromatic flavors and mellow out their taste. They can be incorporated into sauces or dressings to give an earthy flavor and texture.

In India, especially, a lot of the cuisine uses black mustard seeds for spice and texture. These seeds are popped in hot oil, usually mustard oil, and mixed in with the other ingredients.

How Do You Grow Mustard Seeds?

When planting mustard seeds, they need to be under the soil about half an inch deep and 3 to 5 inches apart from each other. This ensures enough space for each of the seedlings.

In order to grow mustard seeds into plants, you need to take note that mustard plants like cool weather, and they can grow rapidly because of it.

Moreover, mustard plants need plenty of sunlight and partial shade, and the surrounding area needs to be weed-free. Under these conditions, the seeds will begin to bud after 5 weeks.

What Are The Benefits Of Mustard Seeds?

Mustard seeds are full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to the human body. Because of this, they were used for medicinal purposes in early times.

Packed with a mineral called Selenium, mustard seeds help strengthen bones, nails, and hair. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve headaches and toothaches.

Additionally, mustard seeds help eliminate odors. A little mustard seed paste or powder with warm water will do wonders for containers that smell bad.

If you want to learn more about mustard, you can see our related posts on what mustard powder is, what stone ground mustard is, and what dry mustard is.


More than just a starter for a condiment, the mustard seed has much to offer in the culinary arts and in medicine

Mustard seeds are just as versatile when they grow into plants as every part of them is used and nothing is wasted.

From the roots below to the flowers above, the plant that stems from the mustard seed is consumed in one way or another.

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