Foods Indigenous to the Western Hemisphere

Wild Mustard


By Jeremy Trombley

The condiment mustard, made from ground mustard seeds, has become an essential part of any ball game, picnic or bar-b-que. It is the condiment of choice for hot dogs, and is equally delicious on hamburgers and other grilled meats. However, the wild variety of the mustard plant has been largely ignored in modern society. This is unfortunate because it is a delicious and extremely healthy food, with several applications.

In early Spring, the leaves can be collected and used as a green. Typically, these are boiled and consumed like spinach. However, they must be cooked for up to 30 minutes, and the resulting green will be tangy and spicy. They can be served with butter or bacon grease and vinegar. Alternatively, the green can be eaten raw in a salad. The spicy quality of the leaves will provide a unique flavor to other fresh greens.

Later in the season, the leaves will become too bitter for consumption. However, the flowering stalks can be used at this time. Mustard is related to broccoli, and the mustard stalks resemble broccoli florets. They can be gathered throughout the season until all of the buds bloom. These can be boiled for only a few minutes and served with vinegar and butter.

Once the flowers have bloomed, they will begin to form seed pods. The yellow flowers make the plant incredibly conspicuous and make them easy to locate at this stage. The seeds can be collected from these and used to make the condiment mustard by mixing with toasted flour, water and vinegar. Additional ingredients can be added for flavor, such as horseradish or soy sauce.

Mustard greens and flowers are extremely healthy. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as many other minerals and nutrients.


Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America. Rev. New York: Harper, 1958.

Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the Wild Asparagus. Field guide ed. New York: D. McKay, 1962.