All photos/art by Bridget Besaw
The Rayes run the last remaining cold-process stone mustard mill in the nation, using an ancient technique they say enhances mustard’s natural flavor. (Other manufacturers cook their mustards.) These massive millstones have been grinding seed since 1900. They once served the sardine industry, making mustard only for canning. That changed in 1990, when Nancy Raye, Kevin’s cousin, took over the mill. Competing with French’s for the mustard market was like competing with Maxwell House for coffee. Raye’s set out to become the Starbucks of mustard — and it has. When Kevin and Karen bought the mill from Nancy in 2005, Raye’s had already won awards for its smooth, coarse, and hot varieties, and now its Down East Schooner mustard has won its second world gold medal. “When people come here and see the mill, they know it’s genuine,” says Kevin.
Raye’s Mustard Mill Museum, 83 Washington St. (Route 190). 800-853-1903, 207-853-4451.