Legend has it that Tewkesbury Mustard Balls covered in gold leaf were presented to Henry VIII when he visited Tewkesbury in 1535. So here we present you with a condiment fit for a king.
The women of Tewkesbury gathered the ingredients from the fields and river banks about the town. A cannonball in an iron mortar was used to crush the mustard grain to a fine flour, then it was sieved to produce a fineness and purity that made our mustard so much sought-after throughout England.
Horseradish was a common weed around Tewkesbury and was used to make the condiment hotter, but it caused great suffering during the preparation of the root because, before being soaked in cider or cider vinegar, the fumes are a painful irritant to the eyes.
Renowned for their excellence since mediaeval times, Tewkesbury mustard balls were sent all over the country. Although the precise recipe has been lost, the ingredients were simply local grown mustard seed, mixed with an infusion of horseradish, formed into balls and then allowed to dry on a board. The customer would then cut off as much as was required and steep it in water, milk, cider or cider vinegar until it was workable. The resultant mustard was “thick and pungent”. This was the form of mustard familiar to William Shakespeare when, in Henry IV, he gave the following words to Falstaff, describing Poins as having “a wit as thick as Tewkesbury mustard”.
By 1662 Tewkesbury mustard was considered by Thomas Fuller, in The History of the Worthies of England, (London, 1662), the best in England. In 1712 Sir Robert Atkins, in his “New History of Gloucestershire”, finds Tewkesbury “remarkable for making balls of the best Mustard”.
The manufacture of Tewkesbury mustard died out only at the beginning of the 19th century, perhaps coincidental with Mr Coleman of Norwich inventing his new process for producing mustard flour. The tradition is now restored as a cottage industry in the borough. Mustard balls are produced to order and on special occasions such as the re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury in July of each year. These jars of mustard use the same ingredients, but as in mediaeval times we would encourage you to experiment.