English Mustard: The Not-So-Mellow Yellow

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English Mustard: The Not-So-Mellow Yellow


English Red Mustard

Mustardly Deviled Eggs

Mustard Barbecue Glaze

Hot Crab Dip

Grandma Fay’s Bar-B-Q Ham Rolls

Maurice’s Spicy Chicken Wings

Sweet Corn Chowder

Mustard Chicken

Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce

By Sharon Hudgins

Sharon Hudgins is a Texas-based writer who stops by Colman’s Mustard Shop every time she visits Norwich, England.


Back when Boomers were babies, an advertising slogan for Brylcreem hair products claimed, “A little dab’ll do you.”

You could say the same about Colman’s English mustard.

Colman’s Mustard Packaging

The packaging for Colman’s Mustard hasn’t changed much.


Drop a dab of this yellow dynamite on your naked tongue, and in less than two seconds you’ll feel the heat in your sinuses like the afterburner from a jet engine.

“It’ll blow your socks off and make you breathe better than you have in years,” laughed Sheela Kadam, co-owner of The British Emporium, a specialty food store in Grapevine, Texas, where Colman’s mustard is a staple item on the shelves.

The Colman’s company calls its hot mustard “The Not-So-Mellow Yellow.” And indeed, one taste of this fiery English condiment will convince you that not all British food is as bland and boring as it’s reputed to be.

“Colman’s is the classic ‘clean’ English mustard, where all the heat comes from the mustard itself,” said Barry Levenson, curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. “Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.”

From a Tiny Mustard Seed…

Mustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and also mentioned in the Bible. Mustard has been grown in England since Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1720 that a process was developed in England for grinding and sifting the oily seeds to produce a dry spice with the texture and consistency of milled wheat flour.

A field of flowering mustard.

A field of flowering mustard.


The real popularity of mustard powder in Britain dates from a century later, in 1814, when Jeremiah Colman—a flour miller himself—first created his own pungent blend of ground-up brown and white mustard seeds at a water mill in Stoke Holy Cross, south of Norwich, England. The product was soon a commercial success, and Colman’s business continued to grow. In the early 1850s, the Colman’s mustard factory relocated to the outskirts of Norwich, where it remains a center of mustard production today.

Raw mustard seeds.

Raw mustard seeds.


Colman’s mustard was originally manufactured as a dry powder, or mustard “flour,” that could be used either as a spice itself or mixed with water (or other liquids) to produce “made” mustard, for use as a cooking ingredient or table condiment. Later the company also started producing its own “made” mustard, the condiment that is now called “prepared,” “wet,” or “pre-mixed” mustard. This beloved British condiment is often served in little ceramic mustard pots, at home and in restaurants, as an accompaniment to roast beef and other cooked meats.

Jeremiah James Colman.

Jeremiah James Colman.


For decades Colman’s dry mustard powder has been packaged in a distinctive yellow “tin”—a re-usable metal spice box—with bright red lettering and the company’s bull’s-head logo on the front. The “prepared” version, marketed as Colman’s Original English Mustard, comes in glass jars. Both products are available at most gourmet food shops and large supermarkets in the United States, although you might find the dry powder located in the spice section of the store and the prepared mustard on the shelves with other similar “wet” condiments.

Colman’s advertising piece, circa 1905. © Colman’s Mustard.

Colman’s advertising
piecea, circa 1855
and 1905.
© Colman’s Mustard.


Colman’s advertising piece, circa 1855.

Use It, Don’t Lose It

“The beauty of having dry mustard in your kitchen cabinet is that you can make it up at a moment’s notice,” said Sheela Kadam, who recommends combining equal parts of Colman’s dry mustard and a liquid such as water, wine, vinegar, beer, milk, or cream, then letting the mixture stand for ten minutes, for the full flavor to develop, before using it. “I’ve even heard of people mixing it with champagne!” she added.

Wet or dry, Colman’s mustard can give a flavorful kick to casseroles, soups, stews, sauces, relishes, dips, marinades, and many other recipes. Stir a tablespoon of the prepared mustard into a cup of mayonnaise, for a spicy sandwich spread. Add a teaspoon of it to your favorite salad dressing. Use it to perk up baked beans.

Just don’t slather gobs of Colman’s all over your hamburger or hot dog, unless your tongue is coated with asbestos. A little goes a long way.

Sheela Kadam pointed out that Colman’s is also an essential ingredient in classic deviled eggs. “The British food term for something that is ‘deviled,’ like eggs or sauces, stems from the addition of hot mustard to the dish,” she said. “It suggests that there was a bit of devilry going on in the kitchen, or that the devil had a hand in it.”

Kadam also described a mouthwatering use of Colman’s dry mustard for making English roasted potatoes. “Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and parboil them until they’re half-cooked. Then rub them with olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and plenty of Colman’s dry mustard powder. Place them in the pan around a chicken or joint of beef, and roast them in the oven, basting the meat and potatoes with the meat juices as they cook. When done, these potatoes come out all crispy, with a wonderfully flavored crust.”

In addition to its culinary applications, Colman’s Original English Mustard is touted for its many uses in the garden, the garage, and other locations beyond the confines of the kitchen, although some of the claims made for it are purely tongue-in-cheek. The website www.britishexpat.com suggests using a paste of Colman’s mustard to secure ceramic tiles to a wall. Sprinkling dry mustard inside shoes to heat up your feet and prevent frostbite. Plugging a leaky automobile radiator by pouring a 2-ounce can of Colman’s mustard powder into it while the car is running. Rubbing dry Colman’s over a dog’s coat to help stop distemper. Stimulating egg production by feeding Colman’s mustard to chicken (instant deviled eggs?). Eliminating ants with Colman’s powdered mustard sprinkled over their trails (chemical warfare?).

And watch out Tabasco Sauce: Miniature glass jars of Colman’s mustard might be the next new taste treat slipped into U. S. military Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).

Connoisseurs’ Cult

The enthusiasm for Colman’s mustard has grown into a cult of connoisseurs in Britain and abroad. Several websites (see Sources) also offer a variety of Colman’s products for purchase online, along with recipes, cooking tips, and souvenirs.

Colman’s souvenirs? That’s right. You can buy all sorts of products sporting the Colman’s logo, from aprons, tea towels, and mugs, to mousepads, wristwatches, and teddy bears. One of my favorites is a bright yellow ceramic mustard pot shaped and painted like a tin of Colman’s mustard. The best selection of these souvenirs can be found at Colman’s own quaint Mustard Shop in the historic city center of Norwich, England. Inside this replica of a Victorian spice store, you’ll find a mustard museum in the back and plenty of Colman’s food products, memorabilia, and gift items for sale in the front. Some of those souvenirs are also sold on the Internet.

No matter how you cut the mustard, Colman’s “not-so-mellow yellow” is hot stuff!


The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum sells Colman’s mustards and other Colman’s products at their shop in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin; by direct mail (call 1-800-438-6878 for a catalog); and online at www.mustardmuseum.com 

For Colman’s history and several recipes developed by the company, go to www.colmansmustard.com 

At www.bri-al.com , click onto the Colman’s logo for a description of products available in the United States, as well as links to recipes and other relevant websites.

“The Unofficial Colman’s Website” at www.ilhawaii.net/~danrubio/mustard  offers dozens of recipes using Colman’s mustard.

For other uses of English mustard, check out British Expat online magazine at www.britishexpat.com/food/mustard.htm 


English Red Mustard

This recipe comes from Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. If you want it really hot, use piquin chiles.

  • 4 tablespoons cracked brown mustard seeds

  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry

  • (powdered) mustard

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 small dried hot red peppers, crushed

  • 1/4 cup cold water

  • 1/4 cup beer

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl, then whisk in the water and beer until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, for the mustard to thicken and “ripen” before using. Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup

Heat Scale: Hot

Mustardly Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs with English Red Mustard.

Deviled Eggs with English Red Mustard.


These spicy appetizers are perfect to serve with a casual brunch or even a picnic. For an even spicier recipe, add a teaspoon or two of habanero hot sauce.

  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon grated onion

  • 2 tablespoons English Red Mustard (see recipe)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a boql. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, onion and the English Red Mustard and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the fillling among the egg halves, mounding it slightly. Garnish with dried pepper flakes or paprika powder. Arrange the eggs on a platter, cover, and refrigerate.

Yield: 3 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Mustard Barbecue Glaze

This recipe comes directly from Colman’s. Use it to finish pork or lamb chops on the grill.

  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry

  • (powdered) mustard

  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel

  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot

  • 1 garlic clove, put through a garlic press

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a sauce to mop over pork, beef, or chicken on the grill or in a barbecue smoker.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Heat Scale: Medium hot

Hot Crab Dip

This recipe also comes directly from Colman’s. Use the dip with crackers, tortilla or potato chips, or sliced celery or carrots.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s dry

  • (powdered) mustard

  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat

Combine all of the ingredients except the crabmeat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the crabmeat and heat until warm. Serve warm.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

Heat Scale: Medium

Grandma Fay’s Bar-B-Q Ham Rolls

This recipe comes from Colman’s. Serve the rolls with potato salad that also has Colman’s mustard in it. A beer would complement the sandwiches nicely.

  • 12-ounce bottle of commercial chili sauce (such as Heinz Chili Sauce)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s dry (powdered) mustard

  • 12 ounces of very thinly sliced ham, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 16 small dinner rolls or 4 large submarine rolls

Combine the chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and mustard in a saucepan, stirring until well mixed. Add the ham. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot (about 10 minutes). Serve the ham warm on sliced dinner rolls, as an appetizer, or pile it on submarine rolls for hearty eaters.

Yield: 16 appetizers or 4 submarine sandwiches.

Heat Scale: Medium

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Maurice’s Spicy Chicken Wings

These mustard-infused wings are a perfect snack when watching sporting events. If you want them spicier, simply add some hot red chile powder to the marinade.

  • 40 chicken wings

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2/3 cup honey

  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • 3 tablespoons Colman’s dry (powdered) mustard

Put the chicken wings in a large self-sealing plastic bag. Mix the soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, and dry mustard in a bowl, then pour it into the bag. Close the bag securely and shake until all the chicken is well coated. Refrigerate the chicken wings, in the bag with the marinade, for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and place a rack on top of the foil. Remove the chicken wings from the bag and place them in one layer on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken wings are crisp and golden.

Yield: 10 servings (4 wings each)

Heat Scale: Medium


Sweet Corn Chowder

This Colman’s recipe makes a sweet heat side dish that goes well with roasted meats. Feel free to add more mustard to really spice it up.

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 teaspoons Colman’s dry mustard

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 2 cups canned sweet corn (measured after draining)

  • 1/2 cup diced ham

  • 1 green onion, finely chopped

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter over low heat in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and mustard powder, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the chicken stock (don’t worry about lumps), then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. Add the corn and ham. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the green onion and heavy cream, and continue cooking only until the mixture is thoroughly warmed (but don’t let it boil). Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Heat Scale: Mild to medium

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Mustard Chicken

This easy recipe comes from Colman’s. Serve the breasts with a salad with Italian dressing and rice pilaf.

  • 6 boneless chicken breast halves

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 3 tablespoons Colman’s prepared mustard

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried tarragon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a lightly oiled 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then mix in the mustard, lemon or lime juice, and tarragon. Pour this mixture evenly over the chicken. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes (or until cooked through), depending on the thickness of the chicken. Serve accompanied by rice or pasta.

Yield: 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium hot

Crab Cakes with Mustard Sauce

Who would have imagined that mustard could spice up crab and do it so elegantly? Serve the crab cakes with homemade french fries and cole slaw.

Crab Cakes:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 4 cups fresh lump crabmeat

  • 1/4 cup crushed oyster crackers

  • Dry bread crumbs (for dredging)

  • Vegetable oil (for cooking)


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup Colman’s prepared mustard

  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

To make the Crab Cakes: Whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, ginger, Old Bay seasoning, and parsley in a bowl. Stir in the crabmeat and crushed oyster crackers, mixing all ingredients thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Form the crab mixture into patties, using about 1/2 cup for each crab cake. Dredge the crab cakes in bread crumbs and set aside on wax paper. Pour enough vegetable oil into a heavy frying pan to cover the bottom by about 1/8 inch. Heat until the oil is hot, then fry the crab cakes in batches (being careful not to crowd them in the pan), for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until the crust is golden. Add more oil if needed.

Drain the crab cakes on paper towels, and keep them warm until serving time.

To make the Sauce: Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice.

Serve the crab cakes warm, accompanied by the sauce.

Yield: 10 crab cakes

Heat Scale: Medium

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