The leader in the Monastery Mustard making business Sr. Terry Hall, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel; photo by Jan Jackson
MT. ANGEL, Ore. – The parable of the mustard seed is still alive and well and the proof shows up on a weekday mornings when the Benedictine sisters of Mt. Angel make and bottle their Monastery Mustard. What started out as a hobby and a simple fundraiser for Sister Terry Hall, is today is an Oregon product with nationwide sales.
The process starts in the monastery kitchen at 4:30 am, proceeds to the dining room where a crew of a dozen or so sisters bottle, label and box it and from there it goes to their shipping department. The fruits of their labor help fund a year-round 11-family shelter.
“We started in 1988, with a recipe that came from a husband and wife team that volunteered for six months in our shelter,” Sister Terry said. “It was her mothers recipe but she gave it to us because she thought it would make a good fundraiser. I made a few batches and it sold well in one of the Oktoberfest booths and at one of our auctions. Then I started experimenting with the recipe and now it’s a full-time job.
“First I added garlic and everyone seemed to like that so then I tried honey mustard. When we had a little honey mustard and garlic mustard left over and I combined them and that turned out to be a good seller too. We now have 14 flavors, two of which are seasonal. In July and August we have blueberry, and in November and December we make an Orange Cranberry.”
Sister Terry, who starts her mustard making days in the kitchen 30-minutes before the others, is definitely the leader in the mustard making business.
“I like straight flavors,” Sister Terry said. “I don’t add other spices like a lot of people do. We cook a pot of basic recipe and then add specific flavor ingredients to it afterwards. The only batch I ever lost in the 20-some years was one I tried cooking all the ingredients together in a huge steamer pot. I had six batches in it and then discovered I couldn’t control the temperature so I lost it all. I never did that again.
“When we make blueberry, we have to start a half hour earlier because we process the blueberries the same day we cook them and the blueberry is very color sensitive. It is interesting too, that just on the shelf, the blueberry doesn’t move quickly but, when people try it they buy it.”
Early morning shows Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel bottling their award winning mustard; photo by Jan Jackson
Before the Sisters hit the market with their product, they enrolled in Business 101 at the Food Innovation Center in Portland.
There they learned to work out the nutrition value tables and designs on the labels, the testing, shelf life and how to pull together supplies needed for the quantities they planned make.
“We cooked in their kitchen and they helped us experiment with the best ways to do things,” Sister Terry said. “We first hit the market seriously with our product in July 2005 and June 12, 2007 went LLC. Our first December sales were out of sight and they continued to be.
The sisters supply a lot of mustard for Oktoberfest and the new Glockenspiel Restaurant in Mt Angel. They also sell through a number of stores throughout Oregon, the United States and on the Internet.
“We do our own packing and shipping out of one of our two-car garages here,” Sister Terry said. “The good thing is that I will be getting an assistant and I’m looking forward to that.
“I got my love of experimenting with food from my grandmother, but when people ask me the success of our Monastery Mustard, I tell them we believe it is the prayer, the mustard seeds and just the right kind of vinegar.”
For more information
To find out more, contact Sr. Terry Hall, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, 840 S. Main street, Mt. Angel, OR 97362: phone 503-949-6321 or toll-free 1-866-847-0885: email firstname.lastname@example.org or visitwww.monasterymustard.com.
A recipe using Monastery Mustard
Recipe using Glorious Garlic: 2 cups chopped chicken, 1/2 cup finely chopped celery, 4 cups chopped hard boiled eggs, 4 chopped green onions 1/2 cup (or desired texture) mayonaise and 2 tablespoons Glorious Garlic Monastery Mustard.