Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - Mustard oil

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Geralyn , on 21/4/2020 01:17am

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 06:02am

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


rogerthedodger55, on 17/7/2020 08:36am

My advice is do some simple research first before you commit. Start with wikipedia first. Very informative. The issue of wether to use in food is one of the biggest debates ever.

I spent a long time looking at the subject before buying TRS brand on Amazon. The bottle states for external use only which i believe is an EU labelling law compulsory. It is however 100% pressed mustard seeds. Watch out for brands that claim edible mustard oil where as much as 50% of the oil is rapeseed.

More important i would not consider for consumption mustard oil sold as theraputic, cosmetic or aromatherepy oil. The latter is not made by pressing but distillation and contains water.


Jane, on 20/8/2020 10:51am

It is not legal to sell Mustard Oil in the US for food use because it contains 20 to 40% Erucic Acid, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit is about 3% (Erucic Acid has been shown to cause cancer in rats); The FDA isn’t happy either about its levels of allyl isothiocyanate, derivatives of which can be used for chemical weapons. It has to be labelled in the US as being “for external use only.”

Rapeseed oil had the same problem until the Erucic Acid was bred out of the crop to become Canola seed.

Mustard Oil is very popular in Northern India. All Indians heat it till it smokes to improve the flavour. This, though, also neutralizes the risk from the allyl isothiocyanate in it, which is destroyed during cooking. Every housewife knows this procedure: heat it until it starts to smoke, then lower heat down to the temperature you actually want to cook at. For this reason, it shouldn’t be used raw in salads. Nevertheless, some Bengalis say they will use small amounts of it raw for flavouring.

Nick, on 3/3/2021 07:13pm

I'm in the UK and use mustard oil when making your cabbage bhaji recipe. It's excellent and has become a firm favourite.

Mamta, on 4/3/2021 03:09pm

Great to hear!


Helen Bach, on 4/3/2021 03:25pm

I believe that its ban in the US has also something to do with 'preserving' the US salad oil industry. Canola oil (rapeseed oil) is obviously Canadian, and selling it in the US obviously wrangles some. However, cancer in rats is a warning, although it has been pointed out that humans are not rats (well, most of them!).

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