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Mostarda di Cremona Recipe

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Mostarda di Cremona is what most Italians think of when they hear the word mostarda. It's voluptuous, and though something of an acquired taste (like fine whisky, for that matter), can be addictive. Since the fruit is not finely sliced, you should select pieces that look perfect.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces (300 g) pears
  • 8 ounces (200 g) quinces
  • 6 ounces (150 g) cherries
  • 8 ounces (200 g) apricots
  • 10 ounces (250 g) figs
  • 8 ounces (200 g) peaches
  • 3 tablespoons powdered mustard seed
  • 3 1/2 cups (800 g) sugar
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar

Preparation:

Begin by preparing the fruit, keeping the individual kinds separate. You need simply wash and dry the cherries and figs. Wash the apricots and make slices in them to extract the pits; do the same with the peaches, or cut them into halves or quarters if they're large. Dry them in any case. Peel, core and quarter the pears and quinces.

There are various ways to proceed at this point. Here is a quick one, which purists, who prefer to steep the fruit over a period of several days, would frown at:
Heat about a quart of water in a large pot, and when it begins to simmer slowly stir in the sugar. When it has all melted, add the quinces. Simmer 20 minutes, then add the pears. Then the peaches, apricots, and cherries & figs, at five minute intervals. When you've added everything, simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then turn off the flame and let it cool.

In the meantime, heat the vinegar, and stir in the mustard, then let the mixture cool.

Transfer the fruit from the syrup to sterile jars with a slotted spoon. Mix the syrup and the vinegar mixture, pour the resulting sauce over the fruit, seal the jars, and store them in a cool dry place.

Last thing: If you visit a well stocked delicatessen you will likely find commercially prepared mostarda di Cremona on the shelves. Be forewarned; since many non-Cremonesi like the idea of mustardy hotness much better than the actuality, commercial mostarda is generally toned down.

Yield: several jars of Mostarda di Cremona.

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