Saskatchewan farmers grow 80% of the world’s supply of mustard seed, but it wasn’t until 2007 that Gravelbourg farmers could deliver their mustard seed to a local milling plant. Now there was an opportunity to manufacture mustard locally, and Gravelbourg Mustard opened in 2008.
Marketing and Promotion
Gravelbourg Mustard was a small operation with limited distribution for the first few years, but it changed hands in July 2011, and the new owners, Val and Leo Michaud, are eager to expand the product line and increase distribution across Canada.
Gravelbourg Mustard currently produces four varieties of gourmet mustard: German style, French style, Cranberry, and Saskatoon Berry.
Val hopes to change the public perception that mustard is only used as a condiment on hot dogs and hamburgers. One of her first acts was to publish the Gravelbourg Mustard Cookbook (available from SaskMade Marketplace) with over 100 recipes ranging from vinaigrettes and dressings to salads and appetizers. “I want to educate people on the many uses of mustard so that they can make their own unique, gourmet dishes at home,” she explains. The company's new website will showcase monthly recipes.
With the help of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc., the Michauds are reformulating the cranberry mustard and plan to introduce three new flavours in the next four to six months.
The Michauds are also changing the look of their bottles and labels. “People shop visually,” Val explains. “Each flavor will be identified by a different colour.” They have been approved as a Canada Brand, and this information will feature prominently on their label as shopping locally is becoming increasingly important to consumers.
Gravelbourg Mustard has increased the size of their batches from 16 to 60 quarts, and they are expanding distribution throughout Saskatchewan and into Alberta. They hope to eventually be available across Canada.
Traditional American mustard is bright yellow, but that colour isn’t natural. The manufacturers add turmeric to obtain that vibrant colour. European-style mustard is darker and more low key, but it has a long and illustrious history.
Mustard seeds aren’t hot or spicy until they are cracked or ground and mixed with a cold liquid. The Romans mixed ground mustard seeds with wine to make a paste, and this remains the basic formula for French-style mustards, which are particularly sharp and tangy. The seeds are cracked, not ground, for German-style mustard. Adding fruit to mustard makes it sweeter.
Three different types of mustard seed are grown in Saskatchewan. Brown mustard is used to make European-style mustards. Yellow mustard is used in American-style mustard and mayonnaise. It’s also used as a binding agent and a protein extender. Oriental mustard seed is used to make a spicy oil that is popular in Asia.
Mustard seed was first grown commercially in 1936 on 40 hectares in southern Alberta. Saskatchewan now produces 80% of the world’s supply, and Gravelbourg is at the heart of the mustard-growing area.
Did you know?
- In sixth century BC, Pythagoras used mustard to treat scorpion stings.
- The ancient Chinese considered mustard to be an aphrodisiac.
- German folklore recommended that brides sew mustard seed into the hem of their wedding gown if they wanted to have control of their household.
- In Denmark and India, local tradition recommends sprinkling mustard seed around your house to keep out the evil spirits.
- American “ballpark” mustard was first manufactured in 1904 by George T. French as "Cream Salad Mustard" and has become the standard for yellow mustard in America.
Mustard, Government of Saskatchewan
Mustard Seed, Agriculture Canada