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Mustard essential oil (olio essenziale senape) for Mostarda di Cremona

I was looking for a source of mustard essential oil (olio essenziale senape) to use in making Mostarda di Cremona, an Italian fruit glacé condiment for boiled meats that has a very strong mustard flavor and nasal burn, if made properly. I found 2 old threads on the subject here:

http://food52.com/hotline...
http://food52.com/hotline...

but neither of them found a solution.

A lot of people suggested using Indian mustard oil, which I had tried myself. But this is not the same thing as mustard essential oil. It has a very weak hint of mustard flavor and almost no mustard nasal burn.

Real mustard essential oil is so pungent and potent that it is sold only in pharmacies in Italy in small quantities. It is a strong irritant to the nasal mucous membranes and the eyes.

WARNING! Brassica nigra - mustard essential oil - is considered to be one of the most toxic of all essential oils; an oral toxin, dermal (skin) toxin, and very irritating to mucous membranes (ex. the membranes inside your nose)

(http://www.ebay.com/gds...)

So I had to find a source myself.

I did find one source on Italian eBay:

http://www.ebay.it/sch...

but it was very expensive--EUR 17,50 for 10 ml! And no shipping outside Italy.

I did finally find a reasonably priced source on USA eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/sch...

I bought the smallest quantity from the seller 'prizebest9711' to see how good it was. I paid $5.99 for a 5ml bottle (http://www.ebay.com/itm...). That might seem expensive but you only need 10-20 drops for a batch of mostarda and it's a lot cheaper than the Italian source. This oil is pure, processed using the steam distillation method, the best non-chemical extraction method, extracted from black mustard seeds (brassica nigra), the most pungent and potent of the mustard family. Before I ordered, I asked the seller if this was the real deal and he assured me it was. He said it was so strong, I should avoid smelling the oil directly, and was so sure I'd like the oil, he said that he would refund the price, no questions asked, If I din't like it.

I got the package from India 8 days after I placed the order. It required a signature and the tiny vial (6ml actually) was packed in so many layers of foam, plastic wrap, and tissue paper in a large box, it took some time to carefully extract the vial using a utility knife. I've never seen such thorough packing from an eBay seller. Other sellers should take lessons from this guy.

As I neared the vial itself, I could smell the strong mustard odor and feel the nasal burn. I was careful not to get my nose too close to the bottle as I opened the screw cap. There was also a hollow plastic plug under the screw cap. I pried that out and dipped the very tip of a toothpick into the oil. I made the mistake of placing the tiny quantity of oil on my tongue. OMG! It burned my tongue, made my eyes tear, and ripped through my nasal passages. Even with the plug in place, the vapors from the screw cap rip through the nasal passages and burn the eyes. It has a very strong mustard flavor and odor. This is the real deal. My search is over. I can't wait to add this to my mostarda. :)

asked by LarAl2015 over 1 year ago
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added over 1 year ago

This is a great post Larry! So glad you were able to finally find a good and reliable source for the mustard essential oil. Can't wait to hear how your Mostarda di Cremona turns out after you make this dish!

Thank you also for posting the good information about the toxicity of this mustard essential oil and how to take care when using it! So important!

Happy cooking!

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added over 1 year ago

Thanks Sharon. I thought I'd include the warning since this is potentially dangerous in the wrong hands.

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added over 1 year ago

Update:

I have made Mostarda several times since obtaining this oil. I had to experiment to get it just right. I noticed that the normal boiling water canning process destroys the flavor and potency of the oil. I settled on simply microwaving the jar of fruit and adding the oil at the end and mixing it in. That preserves the flavor and potency. 5 drops in a pint jar is more than enough. It produces a piquant mustardy flavor similar to wasabi.

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added about 1 year ago

Thanks so much for this post, I also ordered a tiny vial from India (and got the overpackaging treatment!)
I think with all the sugar in the mostarda that a boiling water bath is unnecessary, just boil, add mustard oil and put in sterile jars.

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added about 2 months ago

It's a long time since this question was posed, but I found essence of mustard today at Gilberto, Via Drapperie 5, in the old market area of Bologna. It's expensive--38 Euros for a container, that I suspect will last for eternity. The man who sold it to me said I only need a few drops--be careful! I consider myself forewarned! See http://www.drogheriagilberto...

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added about 2 months ago

OK, well first of all how big was this 'eternal' container? Did you buy it from the US and pay extra for shipping? You didn't link to the actual product and I don't see it anywhere on their site. I just now found on eBay 30ml of steam distilled oil for $16.58--Allin Exporters Mustard Essential Oil Kdfttbpmis | eBay. That's a large quantity that would last a long time in the fridge.

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added about 2 months ago

I'm not sure how big the container is--perhaps 75 to 100 ml. It is already packed for travel so I can't check. No, I didn't link to the specific article because I didn't buy it on the web. I went to the shop and bought it in person, which for me is preferable to buying something through ebay or some other website. I want to know where it is coming from.

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added about 2 months ago

Yeah, well that's great if you just happen to be in Bologna when you suddenly need this oil. Not so much any other time or place. I happened to be in Bologna last year at this time but it was on a weekend when shops like this were closed and I didn't need any essential oil at the time. I would much rather buy it online than go even 1 mile to but it in person. You can read the label and ask questions online so I see no advantage to buying it in person. I only see disadvantage.

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Maedl

Margie is a trusted home cook immersed in German foodways.

added about 2 months ago

You're welcome.