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Forum Thread - Mustard oil

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Geralyn , on 21/4/2020 02:17am

As a Master Food Preserver, I am always interested in learning new ideas and ways to preserve foods. Many Indian pickling recipes use mustard oil. Mustard oil is banned in the United States and many other countries. It has been suggested by a food scientist friend of mine, here in the US, that essential oil of mustard, rather than expressed oil, could be found and used. Would you please share your thoughts regarding this? And, also, where I could purchase this oil in a legal form?

Thank you.

Mamta, on 21/4/2020 07:02am

Hello Geralyn

Most Indian pickles use mustard oil. Not only that, it is often used in making several vegetables and fish dishes, especially in Northern, Central and Western regions of India. It gives them a special flavour that other oils don't. South Indians often use sesame oil. But being a north Indian, I don't have any experience of making pickles with sesame oil.

You are right that it is is banned for edible consumption in the EU, USA and Canada. It contains erucic acid which is said to be harmful, to cause heart and other health problems. It is possible that this is true, we Indian do have a high incidence of Cardiovascular problems. However, as a doctor (now retired), I know that such things are usually multifactorial and may have causes not only to do with what we eat, but also linked to our genes, diet (we Indians are fond of sweets with high sugar and animal fat-Ghee or clarified butter content generally), lifestyle (lack of physical exercise), atmosphere we live in, and possibly several other factors.

I have no experience of using essential oil of mustard, so can't comment on its flavour or preserving properties. You can definitely try it. I don't know how expensive it is and how practical it will be for the masses.

I did not know that there were any Master Food Preservers. If I think about, it makes total sense that people will be specialising in this field and will be masters of their arts. Interesting! My late father was also a scientist, a sugar chemist. In his younger years, he worked for a large company in India that made all kinds of preserves, ketchup and pickles. In fact, many of my jam and pickle recipes come from his old Pickling and Preserving Register, written in his neat and precise handwriting. He was the pickle maker in our house. He always used to tell us the scientific reasons for why various things are done in a certain way in cooking.

I have lived in UK for over 50 years and mustard oil, labelled as 100% pure mustard oil, is sold in every Indian food store here. I use it in pickles and sometimes in stir-fried type of vegetable dishes. Have you looked in Indian/Pakistani stores near you?

Best wishes

Mamta

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