Mostarda is not mustard.  It is made from fruit, but is not jelly, jam, nor dessert.  It is close to a relish.  It is a little sweet, savory, acidic, salty, and spicy.  Mostarda is a typical Italian condiment, almost like a chutney, made with fruit in a mustard oil syrup that is traditional of the Lombard culinary tradition.  Born from the need to preserve fruit, it is often the hero of winter recipes. 

French and English mustard

While in Italy mostarda refers to a sweet and sour preserve of candied fruit and mustard syrup, in France or England, the terms moutarde and mustard have a little different meaning.

The moutarde of Bordeaux, Orleans, and Dijon do not contain fruit and made from vinegar, salt, and mustard seeds.  In some recipes, such as that of the moutarde à l’ancienne, the mustard seeds are partly ground into powder and partly left whole, so as to give the sauce a grainy and more rustic texture.

English mustard is a golden yellow sauce obtained by mixing mustard seeds with water, sugar, salt, wheat flour, turmeric, and other spices.

The different types of Italian mostarda di frutta:

Mostarda di Voghera

The history of Voghera’s mostarda dates back to at least 1397, the year in which Duke Galeazzo Visconti requested a zebro of candied mustard fruit to accompany the meat on his table. This mustard, considered the progenitor of that of Cremona, is very rich in fruit and includes big chunks of cherries, apricots, pears, mandarins, oranges, peaches, figs, melons, and pumpkins. The fruit is candied and dipped in a syrup of mustard-flavored sugar and glucose.

Mostarda of Cremona

Around the 16th century, mostarda became a typical product of Cremona. By the end of the 18th century, 20 mustard factories were already active, mostly family-run artisan businesses. The classic recipe of Cremonese mostarda involves the use of different types of whole or chopped fruit, sugar syrup, and mustard essence; there are also single-fruit versions using the same recipe.

Mantuan mostarda

Mantuan mostarda is typically made up of Campanine apples and quince. The fruits used are whole and preferably unripe, and the syrup consists of liquid sugar and mustard essence.

Mostarda Piemonteste 

Aalso known as “Cougnà” is definitely the sugariest, since it is prepared with grape must (Barbera, Strawberry grapes) to which quince, Madernassa pears, and toasted hazelnuts are added – perfect with cheeses like Castelmagno, Robiola, and the exquisite Tuma dla Paja from the Langhe.

Vicentina mostarda

The recipe for Vicentina mostarda uses quince pulp — and sometimes pear pulp — as a base, along with candied fruit, sugar, and mustard essential oil.

Mostarda of Bologna

Bolognese mostarda is very similar to a jam because the fruit — mainly plums, pears, and quinces — is blended after being cooked with sugar, water, and lemon juice. Walnuts, sultanas, and mustard are then added to the mixture.

Other mustards of the gastronomic tradition of Northern Italy include those of Forlì or Romagnola, that of Carpi, mostarda Veneta, and that of Piedmont. In Southern Italy, with different variations that involve the addition of ground almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, or chocolate, mostarda is prepared following a recipe based on must and flour.

It can be eaten warmed or chilled.

Serving Suggestions:

Preserving Life: That's My Jam!