Orange-Fennel Mostarda

March 23, 2013
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes about 3/4 cup (1 small jar)
Author Notes

Secretly, I call this "Odd Couple Mostarda". Maybe there's something wrong with me, because my boyfriend hates this while I can't stop eating it. I made this on a whim one day, intended as a sort of relish for some pork chops I'd brined earlier (with oranges, natürlich). He says it tastes like marmalade, while I liken it to an orange-y pickle. Sometimes I nibble hard cheese as an accompaniment, but I confess to usually eating it straight out of the jar, a small forkful at a time. Try it and let me know what you think.

Note: I've halved this recipe for those who are wary of a combination they might end up not liking. I'm looking out for you, folks. —Elizabeth Rex

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe pays off in so many ways! First comes the wonderful aroma that fills your kitchen as it cooks. Then you have the fantastic favors at play in the finished product -- delicious right out of the pan, or if it lasts long enough, even better the next day. We ate it on crackers but imagined it as a companion to all kinds of things, both savory and sweet. Its final gift: the wonderful aftermath of flavor and aroma that lingers on after you've enjoyed all the orange-y, fennel-y goodness. —lmikkel

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 of a small fennel bulb, cut into a small dice
  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  1. Place fennel, spices, sugar, vinegar, and water into a small saucepot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, as your saucepot is heating, zest the navel orange. It should yield about 1 teaspoon, but if you get less, that is fine. Set zest aside.
  3. Peel the orange as if you were supreming or segmenting it, but instead of segmenting, cut the orange into 4 pieces and remove the middle pithy part, seeds, and hard rind (if any). The membrane between the orange segments is fine. Dice what you have, which should yield about 1 cup. Add to the saucepot, which should have come up to a rapid simmer/boil about now. If the pot started boiling while you were cutting up the orange, that is fine.
  4. Once the oranges are in, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, skimming any foam that appears, then turn down to medium. Simmer until liquid is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup (nearly all of the liquid will be gone by then) and the mustard seeds have plumped up and softened, about 20-25 minutes. Set aside and cool, then stir in reserved orange zest.
  5. Note: At this point, there will still be pieces of fresh orange in the mostarda. If you want a more cooked-down, marmalade-ish consistency, bring the orange to a boil with the fennel, and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
Contest Entries

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  • Emil
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  • PRST

40 Reviews

Emil January 12, 2018
Can anyone tell me how long this keeps?
Änneken December 26, 2017
I love this so much! Since I am mostly eating vegetarian I spoon it on top of an open-faced cheese sandwich. Yumm!
Jess L. January 15, 2015
Can you freeze this ?
Carolyn T. July 15, 2014
I made this last week - did a double batch and took it camping. Couldn't very easily toast the baguette slices, but it was lovely with it just fresh sliced bread. I wouldn't tell anyone in the group of 12 what was in it - they could see orange, but not the fennel. Because fennel bulbs - and oranges - are all different sizes, I'm not certain my proportion of sugar/vinegar worked exactly right, and I ended up having to add just a tetch more sugar. The combination is magnificent. It was great on plain crackers too. My plan - with the little bit I have left over that remained at home - is to put it on grilled pork chops. Elizabeth - what a great recipe. I'll be making it again. Thank you!
beejay45 February 26, 2014
I love mostardas, but I haven't thought about making any in a while. This is a lovely combo, too. I usually toast any seeds I use in a dry pan to develop their flavors, pretty much gotten in the habit since I first learned curry. ;) I don't have any oranges in the house but I do have red grapefruit and bulb fennel, so I think I'm going to try it with them. Thanks for the reminder and the awesome recipe.
Sonja January 26, 2014
I used apple cider vinegar bc that's what I had . I also substituted honey for the sugar. (I can't have sugar for health reasons ). Of course the stuff burned . What can I do differently next time so doesn't burn ?!?

Btw , the mixture smells amazing !!
Sips, N. March 30, 2014
You only boiling the sugar to dissolve the crystals, if you want to use honey, don't add the honey until it's off the heat.
Debbie S. January 22, 2014
Can this be canned? It would make a lovely holiday gift along with salted lemons.
jill Z. September 23, 2013
Added a pinch of saffron to make it really yellow, looks good!
PRST May 3, 2013
My hubby has been using this on sandwiches, from turkey to roast beef, along with a peppery green like arugula. I his words "what a way to kick up a lunch!" I've been eating it straight out of the jar, like Elizabeth. Rather addictive...
gingerroot May 1, 2013
This is fabulous! I love the balance of sweet and sour and the fennel is such a wonderful addition. I'm hosting a lunch next month and this is going on the menu.
Elizabeth R. May 1, 2013
Thank you for the kind words! I hope your lunch guests like it too!
PRST April 22, 2013
I make a number of different mostardas and while I love the sweet-savory aspect, mine are a tad less sweet, nome are overtly mustardy. I think the blood oranges I've been getting have been VERY sweet so in retrospect, I should have decreased the amount of sugar. I'll be making this again!!
PRST April 22, 2013
Geez.... Spell check gets me all the time! I meant - little too sweet for my "mostarda" likes!
lalocook April 22, 2013
I love this so much I'm moved to give you feedback, since you asked. I followed the recipe exactly (unusual for me) and it is perfect. If you devised it, I am so impressed -- sweet/acid balance can be tricky (for me). If people want ideas on how to eat: I just had some over dark bread toast w/ excellent hard cheese slivers ... also, over toast w/ avocado slices and edamame (done like favas). I'll want this in my fridge always.
Elizabeth R. April 22, 2013
The avocado/edamame sounds so cool I'll have to give it a try! The sweet/acid balance comment made me smile because for me, it's the sweet/salty balance. It's why my bulgogi never tastes like the one at my local Korean place, and why I can never get my braised pork belly to taste like my dad's! ^_^
lalocook April 22, 2013
Funny. I'll keep pickling, and I offer you this delicious form of calisthenics for building your salty/sweet muscle: taberu rayu. You may already know it. It is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted in my whole life. I stomped my foot and wore a blue streak the first time I tried it - using this recipe: http://www.withaglass.com/?p=9494
lalocook April 22, 2013
'swore' a blue streak, I meant
PRST April 22, 2013
Amazing color when made with blood oranges. Amazing blend of flavors. Next time I will reduce the sugar as it turned out a tad too sweet for my "mustard" likes. I am wondering if that's the reason Elizabeth's boyfriend found it marmalade like.
Thanks Elizabeth! Nice recipe. I can't wait to try it after it sits a few days.
Thinking of using it as a condiment for tonight's dinner of grilled tuna.
Elizabeth R. April 22, 2013
Thank you for making it! Using blood oranges is a great idea! I can imagine how lovely it must've looked. But keep in mind "mostarda" is a misnomer! It's pretty much candied fruit in lightly mustard-flavored syrup. However, you could probably up the mustard amount or add a bit of mustard oil for little more mustard kick.
PRST April 22, 2013
I'm trying this today with blood oranges. I'll let you know how it turns out. Wish I could post a picture.
Mirjam L. April 16, 2013
This looks amazing, would Ik go well with some cheese?
Elizabeth R. April 16, 2013
Sure, the sweetness could probably help cut the richness or saltiness of some cheeses.
Lkw1080 April 15, 2013
Very tasty! What are some serving suggestions, aside from eating it right out of the jar :)?
Elizabeth R. April 16, 2013
Cheese/salumi accompaniments, sandwich condiments. You could probably serve it as a relish for meats or something. There's a lot of possibilities.
Tasia M. April 15, 2013
love this!!!
porchapples April 14, 2013
Would love a contest challenge for mostardas to learn of some more delicious ones like this -- also has anyone made them with mustard oil?
stingraystirs April 11, 2013
I can't wait to try this!