How to Harvest Mustard Seeds

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Mustard seeds come from the edible mustard plant, typically grown in home gardens as an edible green. As the weather heats up in summer, the mustard plant sends up a tall seed stalk. Stalk production, or bolting, ruins the flavor of the leaves but provides the promise of seeds for culinary use as a spice. The seeds form in long, skinny pods after the bright yellow flowers on the stalk wither and fall off.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears
  • Paper bag
  • Bowl
  • Airtight container
  • Cut off the seed stalk in late summer after it has yellowed but before the seedpods begin to split open. Cut the stalk beneath the lowest seedpod on the stem.

  • Place the seed stalks in a paper bag as you collect them. Mustard pods break open easily when disturbed so the bag catches any seeds that drop out.

  • Set the open bag in an 80 F or warmer location, placing it away from direct sunlight. Dry the stalks for one to two weeks or until the pods begin splitting and spilling the seeds.

  • Remove the stems and empty pods from the paper bag. Pour the seeds into a bowl and separate out any nonseed plant material. Shake into the bowl any seeds remaining in the pods.

  • Store the dried mustard seed in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Crush the mustard seeds in a food mill or with a mortar and pestle and use the powder to make your own gourmet mustard.

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