To Market Pantry: Blackwater Mustard Co.
Contoocook, New Hampshire
At its most basic, mustard is ground mustard seeds and a liquid. Vary the grind, vary the liquid, and you’ve got a seemingly infinite variety of mustards. And Steve Cybulski, owner of Blackwater Mustard Co. in Contoocook, New Hampshire, has mastered some delicious combinations in producing his award-winning, smooth and whole-seed mustards. “Pope Poupon,” for example, my favorite, has an addictive crunch and pop, and is made with local honey, and brown and yellow whole mustard seeds. But if mustard with a kick is your thing, you’ll love Blackwater’s original mustard, “Hot and Sweet.” Proceeds from the sale of some of these benefit food pantries throughout the state.
Before starting his company (near the Blackwater River), Cybulski had, at various times, raised hogs and heirloom tomatoes. He had been a high school teacher, a welder and a construction worker. But when complications from a double hip replacement in 2009 sidelined him for a couple of years, he found the time to turn his mustard-making hobby into a full-time occupation. As sales at farmers markets and local shops increased, Blackwater Mustard began attracting the attention of some local restaurants. Henniker Brewing Co., for example, asked Cybulski to develop a house mustard for them using the brewery’s own beer. Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack, New Hampshire, asked for one, too, using their signature brew, Budweiser. Gradually, more restaurants and breweries came calling, wanting a custom blend.
Blackwater Mustards are available at many shops throughout New Hampshire, and online. They are all made at home, by hand, in small batches. The mustard seeds and powder are from North Dakota or Saskatchewan (where 80% of the world’s culinary mustard is grown!). Last year Cybulski made close to 20,000 jars with, “only occasionally,” some part-time help. The recipes are his, and he does all the distribution, promotions and deliveries. Still, he insists, “It’s been fun!”
There are eight flavors. All contain local eggs that Cybulski says give the mustards a richer consistency. Maple mustard on a deviled egg? Pass the napkins, please.