It’s sweet cherry season, which means the first trip of the year to the local fruit farm – ‘cause I like to buy in bulk. Sweet cherries are one of my favorite snacks, and every year I hunt for new ways to keep them for the long winter. Usually I freeze several gallons of purple Bings and yellow Raniers. Sometimes I make cherry almond butter or cherry preserves. Some are dried for snacks and I also make Candied Cherries to use in fruitcake. But this year I decided to make mostarda.
Mostarda, also known as mostarda di frutta, is a fruit-mustard concoction from Italy’s Piedmont region. It is basically a relish-like combination of fruit and mustard. In my research though, I came across all kinds of mostarda recipes.
Some recipes used whole fresh fruits in a clear syrup. Some recipes called for dried fruits and were similar to chutney. Some recipes took days to complete while others were made in a matter of minutes. The recipes called for dried mustard or prepared mustard or mustard seeds or sometimes all three.
This recipe is based on the very easy-to-prepare recipe found in Paul Virant’s book The Preservation Kitchen. The Preservation Kitchen is one of my favorite preserving books, and one I pull from the shelf when looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary.
Although many mostarda recipes call for whole fruit, I halved the cherries here for a more relish-like texture. Also, you can use all red wine or all red wine vinegar, or half and half as I do here. Use a good quality red wine vinegar to give the cherries a more full-bodied flavor, or follow these directions to make your own Red Wine Vinegar.
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp red wine
• 1 tbsp stone ground prepared mustard
• 1 tbsp powdered mustard
• 1 tsp crushed brown mustard seeds or ½ Tbsp whole mustard seeds
• 1 tsp sea salt
• 3 cups pitted and halved Bing cherries
1. Combine all ingredients except cherries in a small saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil, add cherries, reduce heat to medium, and cook until cherries are soft and the syrup has slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
3. Pour into two 1/2 pint jars. Mostarda will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or the freezer for up to a year.
Top everyday grilled frankfurters, hamburgers with spicy-sweet mostarda for extra tang. Cherry mostarda also adds a crowning touch to veggie burgers or veggie dogs. Use mostarda spooned over a round of brie or as a pretzel dip. It is also good spread on a turkey sandwich or brushed over grilled zucchini and eggplant.
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