This easy mostarda recipe can be adapted to any combination of dried and fresh fruit that you have on hand. It's a great way to use up leftover or overripe fruit!
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I have a tendency to go a little crazy on the cheese plates for holiday appetizers. I just can't help it. There are so many nibbles out there, and I don't want to miss a single one. And one of the things that zips up a cheese plate like no other is mostarda.
You've probably eaten mostarda on every cheese plate you've ever had in your life, but you didn't know what to call it. Now you know: Mostarda.
Say it and everyone with think you are fancy. Make it and everyone will KNOW you are fancy. (You don't have to tell them how easy it was.)
And yes, it takes three days to make, but DON'T PANIC! Most of that time it's just sittin' and chillin' in the fridge while the fruit macerates.
What is mostarda?
Mostarda is a Northern Italian condiment, made of fresh and/or dried fruit with mustard powder and vinegar. In Italy, this candied fruit mixture is sometimes called mostarda di cremona or mostarda di frutta.
It's made over a few days, you let it sit and occasionally reduce it on the stove until the fruit macerates and you get a fruity, tangy, spicy jam-like mixture.
In Italy, mostarda is traditionally served with boiled meats (bollito misto), but it's also used as a condiment or accompaniment to cheeses and charcuterie. It's especially popular to serve it at Christmas.
- Fresh and dried fruit: We'll get juices from the fresh fruit and texture from the rehydrated dried fruit. For the recipe pictured, I used 2 nectarines, 2 plums, and 2 cups dried apricots.
- Sugar: The sugar will help the fruit macerate, and create the syrup that we'll reduce down for intense flavor.
- Dry mustard powder: This is what gives the mostarda a bit of bite and savory flavor.
- Cider vinegar or wine vinegar (red or white): Adds more punchy flavor, and also acts to preserve the mostarda for longer in the refrigerator.
The beauty of this mostarda recipe is that you can use whatever dried and fresh fruit you like or have on hand. Need to use up some leftover or overripe fruit before it goes bad? Throw it in. So you can kind of make it "without a recipe", which is so brilliant.
- For each pound of fresh fruit, use ⅓ - ½ cup of sugar. For each 4 cups of the mostarda after it has been reduced over the three day period, use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dry mustard.
- Use the ratio of twice as much vinegar to mustard powder. So if you use one tablespoon of dry mustard, use two tablespoons of vinegar.
- All you really need to know is how many pounds of fresh fruit you are starting with and you're set from there.
How to make Italian mostarda
Adapted from Food 52 (How to Make Mostarda without a Recipe)
Step 1: Chop and macerate the fresh fruit
Peel and chop the fresh fruit and place in a large bowl. Top the fruit with the sugar and stir. Allow to macerate at room temperature.
Step 2: Rehydrate the dried fruit
Cut the apricots into quarters. Place in a small sauce pan and just barely cover with water. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, set aside to cool.
Step 3: Combine fresh and dried fruit, refrigerate 24 hours
Pour the dried fruit and liquid over the fresh fruit and stir to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for a couple of hours. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Step 4: Reduce the fruit syrup (days 2 and 3)
The next day, pour syrup off into a small saucepan. Over low heat, reduce to a thick syrup. Allow to cool, then pour back into the fruit mixture and stir, let sit for a couple of hours. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Repeat this same process, pouring the syrup, reducing it, back in the fridge, etc. on the third day.
Step 5: Cook the mostarda (day 4)
On the fourth day in a larger sauce pan, reduce the syrup down again, then add all fruit and bring to a simmer.
Add the mustard powder and vinegar
For each four cups of fruit, mix two tablespoons of dry mustard with 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar, for a spicy, zippy tang. Whisk together and incorporate into the fruit mixture.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, then taste to see if it is to your liking. If you want more zip, add more dry mustard and vinegar.
PREP TIP: When adjusting the flavor, use the ratio of twice as much vinegar to mustard powder. So you could start slowly with one teaspoon dry mustard and two teaspoons vinegar, etc., then simmer for a bit and taste again.
When the mostarda tastes just right, with enough vinegar and mustard to suit you, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. Once cool, store it in the refrigerator.
Tips for success
- For milder flavor, start with one tablespoon of dry mustard to two tablespoons of vinegar, then adjust if you want more spicy bite.
- Some fruits release more juices than others, so depending on what you use, you may not have that much liquid to reduce on days 2 and 3.
- As a general rule, the smaller you cut your fruit, the more liquid you'll get. It does depend a bit on the type of fruit and how ripe it is.
- Cut all of your fresh and dried fruit about the same size for the best final texture.
Recommended tools and equipment
- Chef's knife and cutting board: To chop the fresh and dried fruit.
- Mixing bowls and whisk: We'll use the mixing bowl to allow the fruit to macerate in the sugar syrup, then use another one and a whisk to mix the vinegar and dry mustard powder together.
- Small and large sauce pans: To reduce the fruit syrup and cook down the mostarda.
- Silicone spatula: For stirring the fruit in all steps of the recipe.
How to serve mostarda
Put it on sandwiches, serve with roasted meats, spread it on toast, the possibilities are endless. This mostarda recipe is a great way to use up and preserve leftover fruit before it goes bad.
- Put it on sandwiches like this one: Salami Sandwich with Frico and Mostarda.
- Add it to a cheese plate with some pecans or Candied Hazelnuts.
- Serve with roasted or boiled meats.
- It's a great condiment for Christmas or New Year's Eve, but also any time of year that you are entertaining guests, or just yourself!
- I especially like to make mostarda during the summer - it comes in handy when you are looking for recipes for preserving all of that summer fruit.
Store mostarda in an airtight container the refrigerator. It will keep for at least a month.
IMPORTANT STORAGE NOTE: This is not a recipe for a jelly, jam or preserves. This mostarda is not shelf stable and must be stored in the refrigerator. The mustard powder and vinegar will allow it to keep for quite a while, but not forever.
Why should you make homemade mostarda
Because what you can get in the jar isn't always so good. Because you can make mostarda with practically any combination of fresh and dried fruit you have on hand.
And because when people ask you what it is, they are gonna freak out when you tell them you made it yourself. Go on - impress people why don't ya?
- 1 lb fresh fruit peeled and cut into small pieces
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups dried fruit if larger, quartered or halved
- 2 tablespoon dry mustard
- 4 tablespoon cider vinegar or wine vinegar
- Peel and chop the fresh fruit and place in a large bowl. Top the fruit with the sugar and stir. Allow to macerate at room temperature.
- Cut the dried fruit into quarters, if necessary. Place in a small sauce pan and just barely cover with water. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, set aside to cool.
- Pour the dried fruit and liquid over the fresh fruit and stir to combine. Allow to sit for a couple of hours. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- The next day, pour syrup off into a small saucepan. Over low heat, reduce to a thick syrup. Allow to cool, then pour back into the fruit mixture and stir, let sit for a couple of hours. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Repeat this same process, pouring the syrup, reducing it, back in the fridge, etc. on the third day.
- On the fourth day in a larger sauce pan, reduce the syrup down again, then add all fruit and bring to a simmer.
- For each four cups of fruit, mix two tablespoons of dry mustard with 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar. Whisk together and incorporate into the fruit mixture. For milder flavor, start with one tablespoon of dry mustard to two tablespoons of vinegar.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes, then taste to see if it is to your liking. If you want more zip, add more dry mustard and vinegar. Just use the ration of twice as much vinegar to mustard. So you could start slowly with one teaspoon dry mustard and two teaspoons vinegar, etc., then simmer for a bit and taste again.
- Store in the fridge. Keeps for at least a month.
- Note that you must macerate and reduce the fruit and juices over a three-day period. Prep and cook times are noted, not including resting time.
- Some fresh fruits are juicier than others, so keep this in mind when you are reducing the syrup. You'll get a lot more juice from grapes than nectarines, etc.
- This recipe was adapted from Food 52.
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