I am a big fan of “conserving” the bounty of the season to be able to enjoy it year round. During the summers I pick the raspberries that grow just off our terrace and make jam. Towards the end of the summer I pickle cucumbers and peppers, and boil the figs from our tree in honey and port wine for fruit paste to serve with cheese plates. Whether canning, smoking, curing or candying, the art of conserving allows us to extend the seasons and savor the brightness of summer fruit for many months to come.
I love all types of chutneys and relish which is why I fell in love with the agro dolce flavor of “mostarda”. Mostarda is a savory compote made from apricots, cherries, apples or any other fruit boiled in water and syrup and spiced with mustard. The result is a sweet and savory condiment that is made in various styles throughout Italy that can accompany anything from a pork roast to a cheese plate
While visiting the vineyards of Pavia, I stumbled upon the recipe for mostarda mantovana made with quince fruit. Quince has a sour taste and gritty texture which responds well to boiling in water and sugar. Try this recipe and save a little to add to the filling our our Meatless Monday recipe, Tortelli di Zucca, a Lombardian ravioli type pasta.
2 cups of quince, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (if you cannot find quince, buy green, unripe pears)
1 cup of sugar
7 drops of mustard essence or mustard essential oil*
Measure out the quince after peeling and slicing them. Keep the ratio of fruit to sugar at 2:1. Mix the quince slices with the sugar in a pot and let them macerate for 24 hours. Drain the quince slices from the juice and put the juice on the fire to thicken for 10 minutes. Add it back to the fruit slices, mix and keep aside for 24 hours. Repeat this process the next day and keep aside for 24 hours. Boil the fruits together with the juice for a few minutes, until caramelized.
*Mustard essence/essential oil is not the same as mustard oil, it is much stronger. You should be able to find it online or improvise by adding a teaspoon of dried mustard powder before the mixture cools and stir.