French-style grainy mustard

summary: homemade grainy mustard; treasured memory of mustard from Charroux; (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)

When we visited a moutarderie in Dijon in 1996, I was amazed to discover that the mustard seeds used were grown in Canada! We decided not to buy mustard to take home as a souvenir….

On one of our bicycle holidays in France in the last century, we blundered into the town of Charroux, only to discover truly spectacular mustard there.

If you get happen to be in the Vichy area, the Charroux Moutarderie is well worth the visit. Make sure to sample some of the mustards and in spite of the high prices, buy at least one jar. You won’t be sorry!

But. Almost equally brilliant is home-made mustard.

Not long before that wonderful bicycle holiday in France in 1998, we went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto and tasted the best mustard we’d had in a long time. The woman at the stand had made it and was handing out recipes. We learned from her that prepared mustard has a shelf life and tastes much better if it is freshly made.

She was right!! Do make some mustard today. Like us, you too will never buy Grey Poupon or Maille mustard again.


We get brown mustard seeds in India Town (Kohinoor Foods on Gerrard) and Asian yellow mustard seeds at Kozlik’s Mustard in St. Lawrence Market. Both the brown and Asian yellow mustard seeds are hotter (and more flavourful) than the bright yellow seeds that are used for making Ballpark mustard.


Excerpt from my voluminous travel diary:

VICHY Sunday 18 October 1998 8:05 am 10C cool and quiet!
      The church clock just chimed 8:00. There is a crow calling and various other birds singing and otherwise it is silent.
      I just looked out the window and there is a big swath of blue sky overhead […]
5:40pm Sunny still cool 15C
      Did I say Vichy is flat?!? We just rode out of Vichy and around on rolling hills. The climbs weren’t quite as steep as in the Languedoc but more than expected!
      We left in sunny 10C weather, heading for the charcuterie place. […]
      We left Vichy and quickly found a smallish road and headed towards Saulzet. We blundered around the lovely countryside being drawn by smaller roads and church steeples. […]
      We saw lots of cyclotourists (French cyclists in racing gear) cycling in the opposite direction. One called to T as he passed, that we needed courage to do what we were doing. […]
      It was still sunny and the temperature had risen to 15C. There were huge billowing clouds that looked like they were building rain. Some clouds were white and puffy; others were an ominous slate colour. The corn rustled in the wind. We climbed high up again to the lovely town of Charroux [un des plus beaux villages de France]. The road to Charroux is lined with oak trees instead of plane trees. We were very surprised because from the outside, it appeared to be quite ordinary. We went into the large church St. Jean Baptiste. There is a grotto inside the church and also a beautiful large music book sitting on a stand. […]
      We then went to […] look at the ancient mustard factory where we bought some excellent mustard for 11 FF.

me, my voluminous travel diary, France bicycle trip 1998

I’m quite surprised that I didn’t write more about our experience at the Charroux mustardery. We spent at least an hour there, wandering through to gaze at the ancient machinery and grindstone, then standing in our slightly shabby bicycling gear next to elegantly and expensively dressed tourists (I recall seeing one slightly sneering man wearing very very beautiful fine leather shoes clearly made by an exclusive designer) in the little shop, to sample a variety of truly spectacular mustards. We would have bought a jar of each one if we hadn’t been travelling on bicycles with pretty much zero space for any extra luggage.

After a lot of deliberation, we chose to buy a jar of the “traditional” flavour, even though several of the others were equally fabulous.


The “moutarde de Charroux” is unique, and was created 900 years ago by monks from the Bourbonnais in the Auvergne region […] considered by the gastronomical press as the best in the world. It is processed traditionally by a single family, following the ancestral recipe of French “Moutarde”. A century old grindstone crushes the entire mustard seed (shell included), which gives the incredible texture of the Charroux mustard. The confidential “verjus” made of wine, vinegar, spices and salt is later added. At the very end, the white wine of St. Pourçain (Tressalier grape), which has the prestigious AOC label, is added.
Charroux Mustard: The Ultimate Hand-Made Mustard of France

Yes, indeed, that mustard really was brilliant!

mustard We kept our little jar; we couldn’t bear to throw it away. Now it holds face cream….

I love that we can still read the best-before date (21 September 1999) and the ingredients list on the back of the jar!

Vinaigre de vin blanc
graines de moutard
vin de St-Pourçain
antioxydant #360

Hmmmm, maybe we should add vintage wine to the list of ingredients in our grainy mustard recipe. :-)

Please read more about Charroux: Tourism » France » Auverge » Allier » Charroux Mustard


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1 response to “French-style grainy mustard

  1. barbara

    Perfect timing! I’ve been meaning to find out how you make your own mustard. The available grainy mustards in the store have so many icky ingredients added that I haven’t even bothered to try them.

    I can’t wait to try it added to steamed vegetables.

    You won’t be sorry, Barbara! And if you can’t easily find the Asian golden and/or brown mustard seeds, I’m sure that using regular yellow mustard seeds will still result in a much superior mustard to any of the truly horrible (and ridiculously expensive) ones being sold commercially. -Elizabeth


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