5 Ingredients or Fewer

Mostarda Mantovana - Fruit and Mustard Sauce from Mantova

December 11, 2009
0 Ratings
  • Serves 3 to 4 jars of 250ml
Author Notes

The oldest recipe for Mostarda Mantovana was published in the 14th Century and is still the basis of the modern recipes.. The traditional recipe was made with quinces but nowadays, with the re-interpretation of the modern cuisine, it is made all year round and the most common recipes are made with pears and apples. It is normally served with meat or cheese. This sauce has a particularity which is the Mustard that is used to make it. In Italy Mustard Essence Oil is used and is quite easy to find in speciality shops. Mustard Essence Oil is very strong - you only have to add a few drops but the taste is absolutely delicious. Outside Italy I think it's very difficult to get the essence so I will give you the amount of mustard powder to obtain the same taste. —Maria Teresa Jorge

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound cooking apples, peeled and cored
  • 1 1/4 pounds pears, peeled and cored
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 drops of Mustard Essence Oil or 2 ounces of white mustard powder diluted in 1/4 cup vinegar
  1. Wash, peel and core the fruit. Weigh the fruit at this stage. Cut the fruit in thin slices or small pieces. Put the fruit in a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix very well to coat all the fruit. Cover and chill for 1 day.
  2. Strain the sugar and juices from the fruit and put in a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Pour the hot sugar and juice over the fruit and let cool. Cover and chill for 1 day.
  3. Repeat step 2 once more, bringing the drained juices of the fruit and sugar to a boil, simmering 1o minutes and adding it back to the fruit. Cover and chill for 1 day.
  4. In a wide pan put all the fruit and the juices and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, always stirring gently to keep the fruit in pieces. The fruit needs to be cooked until almost all liquid is evaporated and fruit is dense and a bit coloured.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the Mustard essence oil or the white mustard powder diluted in the vinegar. Mix gently avoiding breaking the fruit. Allow to cool completely.
  6. Serve with meat or cheese.
  7. Note: If you want to make a big quantity to keep, it's better to sterilise the jars.
  8. Note 2: You can make this sauce with only apples or only pears or with quinces when they are available.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Maria Teresa Jorge
    Maria Teresa Jorge
  • Sagegreen
  • AntoniaJames
  • Kitchen Butterfly
    Kitchen Butterfly

14 Reviews

Maria T. August 13, 2011
Hi everyone and thanks for the ongoing exchange of information. I've been doing some research about mustard essence and mustard oil and bottom line is that "essence" is the same as "oil".
There are 2 types of mustard seeds, black and white. Black seeds are used for medicinal purposes and white seeds for cooking. Both seeds can be made into powder or oil. In th US mustard oil is a hazardous oil because of its high content of allyl isothiocyanate. In Europe and Middle East not so. Anyway, I've been using it for so long and never had a problem but obviously I take my precautions like not getting the open flask any near the nose or eyes. If you can't finf the essencial oil, try the powder with vinegar like Antonia James suggest.
If using essential oil use this as a guideline - for a mild taste use 10 drops for every 2 pounds of fruit.For a hotter taste you can go up to 18 to 20.
Jeanne B. October 27, 2020
I’ve lived in Italy on an off over the years, and mustard oil is indeed mustard essence. It’s usually fairly easily found at Indian and Southeast Asian groceries in the U.S. as mentioned, take precautions when using; it’s extremely potent and can burn skin, membranes and eyes, and do serious damage. That said, it’s much, much better to use the oil in Mostardas than seeds and powder.
simmer D. August 9, 2010
Is mustard essence the same as the mustard oil used in Indian cooking? I have some that I purchased at an Asian specialty food shop, I wonder if it would work in this recipe.
AntoniaJames August 9, 2010
I seriously doubt it. I contacted the buyer at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge to see if he could help me find "mustard essence," to use in this recipe, as I was unable to find any in the SF Bay Area. He told me that it is a banned substance in the US, as it is a primary component in mustard gas. I used yellow mustard powder mixed with a bit of vinegar when I made this last fall and it turned out great. I'm making another batch right now, with tart apples just in from local farms at my favorite farmers' markets!! To get back to your question, I would not use what you have, because the oils used in it very likely would affect the overall flavor of the mostarda. ;o)
simmer D. August 9, 2010
I read in a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook that Indian mustard oil is banned as well, not sure how it wound up on the shelf there but I have a feeling that the shop is not so well monitored for that kind of thing! :) I am so curious now as to what the similarities/ differences are, I couldn't find any info on Wikipedia or elsewhere. The product I have is very strong and tastes a bit like wasabi before it is cooked. Once cooked it is still spicy but mellows out a bit.
Kitchen B. September 8, 2010
I also see mustard oil in shops here in the Netherlands. This is a must make - so excited too, especially since I've been itching to learn more about mustardy condiments!
Jeanne B. October 27, 2020
Mustard oil is indeed mustard essence. It is not quite the same substance/form as the form used in mustard gas.
Sagegreen August 6, 2010
What a gem! I have particular interest in any food history up until the renaissance, since that is where my garden history course ends. Thank you for this.
AntoniaJames January 3, 2010
I had quite a bit left from Christmas, so I ate some again last night, this time with roast turkey. So scrumptious!! And to think that the recipe goes back so many centuries. I'm still searching for the essence of mustard here. We have a fabulous Italian grocery (A.G. Ferrari). They have a shop online that is well stocked with all kinds of ingredients, including a mostarda from Cremona. I will send their president a letter, asking him to source and stock this essence!! Thanks again for sharing this wonderful recipe.
Maria T. January 8, 2010
Antonia, I think it's really very difficult to get the mustard essence in the States. If you want I can mail you some from my shop in Florence when I get back.
AntoniaJames December 26, 2009
I made this, using only pears, to eat with our pork leg, which had been marinated in Tawny Port before roasting. The mustard was absolutely perfect! I did not have (and don't remember ever seeing) "white" mustard, so I used yellow mustard powder mixed with cider vinegar. I only needed a couple of tablespoons for the 20 or so ounces of fruit sauce that the pears produced. More than that would have been overwhelming, I think. As it was, the end result was a perfect balance of sweet, tart and just a little spicy from the mustard. I will make this again in the future! In fact, I'll probably make a batch of apple and pear sometime in January. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.
Maria T. December 27, 2009
There is this problem with the mustard essence and white mustard outside Italy. But I assume the yellow mustard gives it the same effect. In reality it's the kick from the mustard that makes this condiment so special. Along the year we make it with different fruits and the pear one is absolutely amazing, I have also made it myself before. The real Mostarda Mantovana is made with apples but I always add pears because I actually prefer the pears better. So I am so happy you liked it and managed to come out with the right amount of mustard powder, I admit I struggle making it without the mustard essence! Happy Holidays
AntoniaJames December 12, 2009
I love the lid on the jar! And the recipe looks wonderful too . . . . as all of yours do!!
Maria T. December 17, 2009
Thank you Antonia, it's always nice to hear that someone likes the recipes.