The origins of Tewkesbury Mustard do not seem to lie in the commercial growing of mustard itself: Yorkshire , Lincolnshire , Cambridgeshire and Essex were all better known for their fields of mustard. It seems probable that a cottage industry grew up from the use of wild mustards in the area. Tewkesbury was certainly known for its spicy trucklement in the 16th century, and was very possibly involved in the trade a hundred years or more before then, perhaps because of its advantageous trading location on the Severn .
The original product was made of ground-up mustard seed dried in balls for reconstituting later – some of these balls were gilded to help further in preservation of the oils that gave pungency.
At some point horseradish was added to the mustard for extra heat and kick – those who think the British love for spicy foods is recent are way off the mark. This may have been part of a pattern of what modern food companies would call product development, with herbs included in some mustard balls for different flavours. Further bite would be added to the product when it was made into a paste for the table, with vinegars including spiced vinegars with chilli among the liquids employed.
These days the mustards made in Tewkesbury are artisan products, the industry having gone elsewhere some time ago. What is meant now by Tewkesbury mustard is the spicy mix of mustard and horseradish that can lift a good beef sandwich to greatness.
It is to be hoped that EU bureaucrats don’t pay attention to the product for two reasons: it generally does not come from Tewkesbury; and it is not just mustard. Somehow the idea of buying ‘Tewkesbury mustard-style product’ or some similarly vile designation does not appeal.
On this day: