Over the years we have gotten lots of similar questions from customers and friends alike and thought it was time to dispel the rumors and spread the truth. We’ve listed them in the order of most commonly asked.
1. Does Moosetard contain any moose poop or other moose byproducts?
No, our mustard is natural but not that organic.
2. Why isn’t your mustard yellow, mustard is supposed to be yellow?
Our mustards do not contain Turmeric, which is the spice that gives the mustards in the yellow squeeze bottles its bright yellow appearance.
3. What are the funny little balls that look like caviar and roll around on your tongue then pop when you bite them?
Those are whole grain brown and yellow mustard seeds. During the painstaking process of creating your mustard they absorb all the other spices and flavors we mix in and the burst of flavor is each little sphere spreading its joy. Many of the seeds are left whole since we believe a coarse ground mustard brings more flavor to the taste buds. It could also have a little something to do with the fact that my grinder can’t make it any finer but the above explanation sounds better.
4. Is the Alaska Wild Fire really hot?
Depends on your definition of HOT, if you eat raw Habanero peppers then, No. We tend to rate the Wildfire as a 6 on a scale of 1-10 while the Coldfoot Pilsner with Peppers is about a 4. Some people try it and get a red face with a few tears while the “Pepper People” say it’s a good flavor but not really that hot. Personally I think it depends on if you get a part of a Piquin Pepper in your bite.
5. Who actually makes the mustard and how is it done?
Okay, Paul and I make the mustard and sorry the other part is a trade secret. Actually, our mustards are part of a seven to three day process depending on the flavor. The mustards that take the longest are the Alder Smoked and the Fairbanks Lager -Smoked since we first naturally smoke the seeds in a smokehouse for 3-5 days with alder chips. Other mustards don’t have quite the same amount of time involved but are equally labor intensive. One day is spent prepping the seeds, mixing ingredients and cutting pounds and pounds of onions for hours and hours. The second day is when the mustard is ground, cooked and jarred. We now cook three batches in our two 60 and one 80 gallon kettles and average between 2000 to 2500 jars per cook. The third day is spent labeling all the jars and applying the safety seals. I’ve been very lucky to have my father-in-law assist me with cooking during the winter (no golf courses are open) and the kids like to earn money by helping with the labels. The most difficult mustard to cook is the Old 55 Pale Ale with Roasted Garlic. The smell is strong enough to chase grown men from the kitchen in tears but the final product is well worth the pain.
6. How did you get into making mustard?
Good question, the one I keep asking myself is how do I get out of it? It has taken over our lives, we dream mustard, smell of mustard and occasionally Paul will answer the phone “Yellow?” The truth is a long tale and not for the faint of heart, or weak of stomach.
Many, many years ago when I was a small child we moved to a little Athabaskan village along the Yukon River and my father made his own mustard. Neither my sister or I ate mustard and we were horrified by the strange concoctions he would cook, then blend in the Osterizer. He would put one jar in the fridge then freeze the second. We tended to call it “kitchen sink mustard” since he would throw in whatever was in the cupboard to “spice it up”.
About seventeen years ago I was getting ready for a holiday dinner at my in-laws and was supposed to bring potato salad. The potatoes were peeled and cooked, everything was ready when I opened the fridge and discovered we were out of mustard. I didn’t have time to run to the store (12 miles away) and back and still make it to dinner without being late. Aha, I thought the last time Dad visited he made mustard, maybe there are still some seeds in the spice cupboard. Low and behold there were two cups of yellow mustard seeds. What was I supposed to do with all the hard, crunchy little seeds? At that moment, I realized I should have paid more attention when Dad was making mustard. I started to dig through the shelf of cookbooks and found my grandmother’s old Sunset Cookbook from 1950 something. When I pulled it down an index card fell out with a handwritten recipe for Grandma Hahn’s German Mustard. Fate, at that moment had decided to be kind (or so I thought). So carefully following the steps on the card and throwing in the 13 or so odd ingredients, I made mustard. It was undecidedly the worst mustard I had ever tasted in my entire life. Needless to say cheesy potatoes went to the dinner instead.
I tend to think of my self as a fairly decent cook and the idea that I had screwed up something so badly was really irritating. So, I did a little research. Turns out the mustard and vinegar had a chemical reaction with the aluminum pot I used (apparently food science is really important). Later that summer I went to the Farmer’s Market and bought a bottle of Spruce Tip Syrup. That night I woke up at two o’clock in the morning and thought “What if I substitute the spruce syrup for the brown sugar and corn syrup in Grandma’s mustard, get rid of all the other stuff and just start over?” The next day I made the first batch of Savory Spruce and took it to a neighbor’s BBQ where it was a big hit. Over the course of the summer we started making our Ginger Birch and Cranberry mustards. Friends and family could not get enough and we spent the next couple years supplying ourselves and giving it as gifts.
In the spring of 2004, someone suggested we try selling it at the local farmer’s market. So I phoned them up and was told it was a great idea but they asked if we had State DEC approval and an authorized kitchen. The DEC thought it was wonderful but wanted to know if we had FDA approval since it was an acidified food product. I called the FDA agent who was enthusiastic but wanted to know if I had not only secured a commercial kitchen but have I taken the Food Processing Course, which by the way would not be offered again until the following February. Oops! The rest of the year was spent perfecting the recipes for commercial production, finding a kitchen, designing labels and graphics, taking classes and finding out how expensive it was to start my own business.
After all was completed, we were finally able to sell our first jar of mustard at the market in May of 2005. By the end of the year we had ten flavors including the Silver Gulch beer mustards. The following year we moved into our own “big” kitchen and added three more flavors . Since then mustard went from a hobby, to a part time gig, to taking over our lives and hopefully someday paying a few of our bills. Some days are a little rougher than others but in all we are having the time of our lives and thoroughly enjoy the day to day contact with our customers. No matter how our little company grows we refuse to give our customers anything less than the best service possible. If you made it to the end of this answer, I’m really impressed, but a bit concerned that your social life is becoming a little too much like mine.
If you have any other questions that you would like answered just let us know.