Steve would like to think he’s the tastiest dish in Gourmandistan. Unfortunately, his illusions are often interrupted by sights and sounds suggesting he’s not, mostly around mealtimes. His latest rival arrived as a result of an unwise impulse buy of sweet cherries at last Saturday’s market. Steve snatched up both boxes without even looking at them, as these were the first locally grown sweet cherries we have ever seen around here. At home, he discovered that not only were half of them bruised beyond usability, but the rest (somewhat battered themselves) weren’t even that tasty. Michelle offered to make something with the surviving non-chicken-food cherries. She suggested pickles, or perhaps preserves, but Steve thought Gourmandistan had enough of both already. Michelle turned to Paul Virant’s The Preservation Kitchen. Steve turned to pitting his cherries. And now he’s playing second fiddle to a fruit stew.
We didn’t notice mostarda much when we were in Italy. Perhaps we were ordering the wrong things in restaurants; perhaps the Padovans don’t much care for the stuff. But after she made her own, Michelle has been hunting for excuses to eat some. She may soon drop even that pretense, as on one occasion she remarked: “I should just drink this out of the jar.” We’ve had it on ham, on Italian salami, mortadella, pork chops, cheese and more, and Michelle still can’t get enough. (Steve, quietly eating jam, is sad.) Vinegar, mustard and salt coaxed deep flavor from the mediocre cherries, even though we bucked Virant’s admonition and used powdered mustard instead of prepared Coleman’s English. We also ignored Virant’s instruction to can the the stuff—which is just as well given the speed with which we’ve gone through it.
As we’ve seen no more local cherries, someday our sweet cherry mostarda will be no more. But there will be other markets, and possibly other cherries. There will be more mostarda in Gourmandistan. And there will be Steve, cuckold to cherries, pitting and pining for his former place in Michelle’s heart.
(adapted from Paul Virant’s The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-Doux)
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c. + 1 TB water
- 1-1/2 TB Dijon mustard
- 1 TB powdered mustard
- 1/2 TB mustard seeds
- 1 t. kosher salt
- 1 pound sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
Mix together all ingredients except cherries in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cherries and cook over medium-high heat until they are softened, about 20 minutes. Refrigerate.
One of my favorite cookbooks! Beautiful photos!
Thanks, Mimi! It’s funny. I bought it a good while ago and flipped through several times and thought perhaps I regretted the purchase. But, now that I’ve made this, I can’t wait to dig back in!
Your cherry season is starting and mine has long ended; your blueberry season has ended and mine is just now starting. That’s too bad, because the mostarda, even without the glowing write-up, looks delicious topping that cured meat. Ah well, there’s always blueberry-lemon curd tart…
The weather has been so strange this year! We’re in the midst of wild blackberry season now, which is weeks late. The good thing about this recipe is that I’m thinking it may be good even with (gasp!) grocery cherries from far, far away. I intend to find out. 🙂
I love mostardo, now I must make some with cherries. Superb!
Thanks, Janet! I intend to explore many other varieties.
Omg. I am totally making this! I saw tart Montmorency cherries at the market a couple of weeks ago and snatched them up before realizing that I would have no time to do anything with them while my parents were in town. In the freezer they went 😦 But next week, I am totally going to make this. Thank you!
So welcome, Daisy. It does sound like a good use for your frozen cherries. Hope your parents’ visit was grand!
It was! And then, right after they left, I boarded a 6:30am bus bound for my CSA farm. Spent the weekend up there. Am back and am pooped!
We love mustard fruits and these look good enough to slather on a plain slice of baguette, although a slice of something sharp wouldn’t hurt. Great idea for cherries that I hadn’t considered (for some reason all the Italian cherry mostarda we see use yellow cherries, probably because in Europe the yellow ones are often sour). Excellent photos. The cherries really pop. Macro lens? Ken
Thanks, Ken. Yeah, I know we had some mostardas in Italy, but they definitely weren’t red! Same lens I usually use for food photos—it’s a 60mm f/2.8. Just lucked into really nice light that day!
It’s a great macro lens, assuming we’re talking Canon. If you look at the Flickr group for it you see people doing things like photographing dragonfly eyes. Ken
Yeah, Canon. Now, I must go look at those dragonfly eyes. 🙂
..and I’m sure it wasn’t just the light–technique had something to do with it. 🙂 Ken
This looks amazing- I’ve never heard of this cookbook, or recipe before, looks like its time to play catchup! Your photos are beautiful, as usual.
Thanks so much, Julia. It’s an interesting cookbook. Came out last year. The author has some Chicago-area restaurants that I haven’t been to. This was the first thing I’ve made out of the book. It definitely makes me want to try some more things.
LOVE. I am totally making this too. (Take that, Daisy!)
Oh, do! And you in the midst of cherry land, right? (Where those that are sprinkled about the photos came from. But don’t tell anyone. :))
Beautiful! I love preserves like this. Especially with savory things. Thanks for the recipe.
Thanks! I’ve had little luck with savory preserves in the past. Things that sounded fabulous but didn’t live up to expectations (I particularly remember a pear and rosemary conserve). But, after this, I’m looking forward to trying more.
Yum! I adore the usual mustard fruits so this would be right up my street.
Thanks, Sarah! It really is yummy.
Amazing. I can’t help thinking it looks just like a jam – that would give a fridge raider quite a shock 😉
Oh, but a good shock—particularly if it happened to fall upon a piece of charcuterie or cheese!
I like your thinking and we might share the same Laguiole knife…
We probably do! While Laguiole (like the rest of the Aveyron) is one of our favorite places in France, I think we got this one for free ages ago for making an online cheese order.
That is wonderful. Your pictures really shine….the overhead of the jam and saucisson is lovely. I’m going to make the mostarda.
Oh, thanks so much, Teach! And do give it a go.
…I meant to say overhead shot of the “mostarda”, but, because I was busy reading Mad Dog’s comment, I subliminally wrote “jam”. I blame Mad Dog for quite a lot of my mistakes.
Funny, I was planning on making this (from that very cookbook). Glad to know it’s a winner. And an excellent addition to your open-faced sandwich theme!
Great minds, Sara… But, I know: Someone needs to stop me before I tartine again!
Very nice indeed. Sadly, cherries are an outrageous price here in Ireland. I won’t be making anything with them any day soon.
No affordable cherries in Ireland? What would Darina Allen say about that? 😉
Wow. Imagining that on some mortadella with a bit of aged provolone. Be still, my beating heart.
Wow!!!! I mean, WOW! I feel like I should take the rest of the day off and hunt down some cherries and make this ASAP. Then, I’d just eat it right out of the jar.
Aw, thanks, Daisy! And eating out the jar would be just fine by me.
This looks lip-smackingly good.
Thanks! Might be good on a cracker, too. 😉
WOW…your pictures are beautifully delicious! Soo.. tempted to try making them
Oh, so sweet. Do try!
Simply vibrantly Gorgeous! (the Preservation Kitchen is wonderful, isn’t it? But they’ve got nothing on your photos!)
Oh, thanks, Spree! I am going to have to get that book out again and find something else to make, as this was sooooo good.
This looks fabulous, but alas our cherry season has come and gone. I’m wondering if this would work with fresh figs. They aren’t as juicy as cherries and would break down a bit more…but why not try it? We’re about to be knee-deep in the next few weeks. Generally, we harvest about eight to ten pounds a day for a good week. And yes, off of one tree!
Sounds like a capital idea! How lucky you are to have a fig tree. Every time we tried to plant fruit trees, the deer immediately mowed them down. 😦
Dear Michelle and Steve,
We’ve just made the incredibly delicious, buttery mostarda, Michelle…………..and after it cooled, having stood by it repeatedly licking the spoon and wowing away, we can understand why Steve might be pining for lost affections. This will be a standard with us for the rest of our days: it transplanted beautifully to an island off the southeast coast, even with (gasp! groan! terroir traitors!) plump sweet cherries from Washington state. Your essay about it reminds us anew of your elegant “Talk of the Town” prose. Love to you both, with thanks, and — we know Steve will find his way back (not too much of that jam, Mr. H.!). xoxo, Kelly and Mark
Oh, you guys—we miss you! xoxo
Thanks for the compliments! We miss your wonderful personalities!
Thanks so much for this recipe, it sounds gorgeous with the sweetness of the cherries and tart vinegar and kick frm the mustard. This is the first I’ve heard of mostarda (I learn so much from reading food blogs 😉 ) and can’t wait to try it once I get my hands of some ripe cherries!
this looks gorgeous!!
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I made it, and am pleased with the flavor, but the consistency is quite thin, Is this what you experienced, or did I not reduce it adequately? I’m considering draining off the cherries and reducing the vinegar mixture until it thickens, before adding the cherries back in, reheating and recanning . What texture does an authentic mostarda have?
I expect it’s kind of like jams and jellies: sometimes runny, sometimes thick, depending on a lot of different factors. I haven’t made it again—something I obviously need to remedy!