Mustard seeds have a long history of being used as a spice and condiment due to their pungency. Harvesting mustard seeds requires careful timing and attention to detail, as the seed must be harvested at optimal ripeness for maximum flavor and oil content. The seed preparation process is also crucial in ensuring that the stored product remains fresh and flavorful.
What do Mustard Seeds Look Like?
The plant has a straight long stem, during the flowering period the mustard is covered with yellow flowers on a flower brush. After blooming, the flowers grow into small fruits resembling the shape of a pod. It contains small round fruits. White mustard seeds are small, yellowish in color, in black-dark brown or brown-red.
When to Harvest Mustard Seeds?
Mustard seeds are harvested after flowering from June when the pods are completely dry and hard. The harvesting of mustard seed is a delicate process, as the seed must be harvested at optimal ripeness for maximum flavor and oil content.
How to Harvest Mustard Seeds?
Harvesting of mustard seed is done either by hand or mechanically. Hand-picking involves removing the entire pod from the plant and threshing it to separate the seeds. Mechanical methods involve using a combined harvester that cuts, threshes, and cleans the seed in one operation.
- Manual harvesting. Hand-harvesting of mustard seeds is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it produces the highest quality seed. For manual harvesting, the pods are cut from the plant when they are dry and hard. Once the pods have been harvested, they must be threshed by hand to separate out the seeds. This is done by placing the pods in a burlap sack and beating or shaking them until the seeds are released.
- Mechanical harvesting. For mechanical harvesting, combine harvesters are used to cut and thresh the mustard pods. Combine harvesters can be adjusted for different crop sizes, and they use an internal sieve system to separate the seeds. The seeds are then collected and stored in a grain bin or other container.
How to Store Mustard Seeds?
Mustard seeds can be stored for several years if they are kept in the right conditions. They must be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. The temperature should not exceed 50°F (10°C) and relative humidity should be below 60%. It is also important to keep the container well-sealed so that moisture does not enter.