BBQ tips: Top mustards, avoiding blunder

July 1, 2011 2:37:03 PM PDT
If hot dogs epitomize a slice of American life, then you could say mustard adds the spice to life.

But choosing a mustard can be a bit complicated, whether you like the traditional kind or you're partial to Dijon, which can have a more intense flavor. Consumer Reports has sized up big-name mustards.

Without knowing which one they were trying, sensory panelists sampled mustards several times, evaluating them for texture and flavor. Consumer Reports found that you don't need to spend a lot for a good mustard.

In fact the most expensive mustard tested, Annie's Naturals Organic yellow, which cost eight times more per serving than some of the others, tasted good but was the lowest-rated yellow mustard.

Gulden's yellow was top rated for a fraction of the price. Its texture is somewhat coarse, and its flavors are more complex than others. It's tastier than your average ballpark mustard, with hints of caraway and dill pickle.

Another very good, inexpensive yellow mustard is French's Classic. Testers found that it has a slight kick, a moderately sour flavor, and a hint of cayenne pepper.

If Dijon is more your taste, try Grey Poupon. It's flavorful and pungent, but you will pay a little more for it. For about a third of the price, Walmart's Great Value All Natural Dijon also rated very good in Consumer Reports' tests. Any of those are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

While mustards can vary greatly, they all have the same basic ingredients: ground mustard seeds, some spices, vinegar, and water, a combination which not only adds a zing of flavor but helps keep the calories down. The recommended mustards had a mere 5 calories per teaspoon, or even less.


No doubt you've been there: Your grill is loaded with food, you have a hungry crowd, and suddenly the flame goes out. Consumer Reports has the lowdown on products that are designed to help you avoid that barbecue blunder.

The translucent tank is a new design that Consumer Reports just tested. It allows you to see the propane that's still in there. And if you have trouble seeing the liquid, you can highlight the back of the tank to more clearly see it. But those tanks can be pricey. One costs $90, and Consumer Reports found that it didn't fit in some grills.

Another solution is getting a grill with a propane gauge. But if your grill didn't come with a gauge, you can get an aftermarket one that tells you when it's time to refill.

Another solution is to keep a second tank on hand. Always keep it filled. When the other tank runs out, just switch them and you're ready to go. If you're looking for a new grill that comes with a propane gauge, Consumer Reports recommends the Weber Genesis E330. It's pricey, at $800. But it performed well in Consumer Reports' low- and high-temperature tests, and its coated cast-iron grates are perfect for grilling. Or you can look online for one of those aftermarket gauges. Expect to pay between $13 and $30.