Mostarda (Mustard) di Cremona Frutta Mista
An unusual specialty originating in Cremona, in the Lombardia region of Italy, traditional Mostarda is a mixture of whole fruits preserved in simple syrup and mustard oil. Its origin goes back to the honey, mustard, oil and vinegar condiments of the Roman Empire most likely originating from the need to preserve fruit.
While it has the taste and sweetness of citrus fruits, Mostarda also contains mustard oil, which accounts for its “kick”. This Mostarda is made with citrus strips and has a sweet, yet slightly spicy twist. It is traditionally served with a variety of foods such as cold boiled meats, hams, and pork loin, roasted turkey, leg of lamb, cheeses, and game. Used much the same way as chutney.
Mostarda was invented in the 14th Century and was then called mosto ardente, or ardent must because it was made with grape must and ground mustard seed. This aromatic mixture was then used to preserve fruit for long periods of time. Eventually, the fruit preserved in this manner came to be known as Mostarda.
Albeit the origins of Mostarda go back to the 14th Century, its use spread only in the mid 17th Century, especially among farmers in Northern Italy.
The most typical of all Italian Mostardas’ is the one made in Cremona using fruit, mustard essence, sugar, and whole candied fruit. This Mostarda is traditionally served with Bollito misto di carne, a variety of boiled meats.
There are also other kinds of Mostarda, among which, the Venetian Mostarda, made with chopped fruits and used as an accompaniment for Panettone and Pandoro. The Mostarda of Parma, less known than its kin, but is equally delicious. This latter kind of Mostarda is made with pumpkin, mustard oil, white-fleshed watermelon, apples, pera cotogna (pear-shaped quince) and lemon juice, This is the perfect match for cheeses and boiled meats.
In Lombardy, other than the Mostarda of Cremona, the one from Mantua also deserves to be mentioned. The older one of the two, this Mostarda is the main ingredient of Mantua’s delicious specialty: pumpkin Tortelli. It is made with quince, mustard oil, and sugar.