In daily parlance, mustard is a paste or sauce comprising mustard seeds that are either ground or crushed. The seeds can be yellow, black or brown. The seeds are commonly mixed with vinegar (in Sweden, diluted acetic acid), salt, sugar and other flavourings, such as whiskey, wine, cider, beer, honey, horseradish and other spices. The use of mustard as a condiment has been documented in, among other places, India as early as 3000BC, but it was primarily the Romans who realised its culinary potential. Mustard was also used for medicinal purposes.

In Sweden, mustard is usually weaker and sweeter than in other countries. This can be compared to, for instance, French mustard (especially Dijon mustard, which is made from black mustard seeds and which is often sharp-tasting, with no hint of sweetness).

There are regional differences in Swedish mustard – the southern Swedish varieties are coarser and darker while, in eastern areas, mustard is finely-ground, strong and sweet.