Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winter Fruit Mostarda

"Have you ever made mostarda?"
"No, but we make chutney every year."
"You should make mostarda."
(Googles mostarda recipes.) "Sure. I'll do that."

So mostarda: Google suggests that it is essentially a chutney-like an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup.  Traditionally, the mustard flavor comes from mustard oil, but as that is not readily available in the US, most here substitute mustard seed or powder. The fruits used vary from region to region, I found recipes including everything from peaches to cranberries to quince. 
In the end, we ended up modifying a recipe from the soon to be released Preserving by the Pint, the second book by Marissa McClellan. We cut our fruit into chunks rather than segments and added dried cherries to the mix. For this recipe I've increased the amount of honey and water in the syrup as our original attempt left us without enough syrup for all of our jars. We adjusted the cooking times, as we found that our doubled syrup took longer to reduce. Also we chose to keep our jars warm in the oven while the syrup reduced, in order to avoid thermal shock when processing them.

2 pounds pears
2 pounds firm tart apples
2.5 cups honey
2.5 cups water
4 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup dried cherries (optional)

Combine the honey, water, mustard seeds, vinegar and peppers in a pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
Pre-heat your oven to 250. 
While the syrup heats, peel, core and slice the fruit into 1/2 inch chunks. Add to the cooking syrup as you chop to avoid discoloration.  Continue to cook until the apples are pears are translucent, but not falling apart. 
With a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit into jars. Place jars into the pre-heated oven on baking sheets to keep them warm. 
Return the syrup to the stove and bring back to a boil, cooking it for 30 minutes or until reduced by almost half. Ladle over the fruit in your jars and cover with dried cherries, maintaining a 1/2 inch head space. Seal and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath canner.