Monday, August 19, 2013
Part of my goal when I started this blog and changing my diet was to begin preserving my own food. I think that canning is gaining in popularity again as people are striving to eat more locally. For me, it's a great way to practice my homesteading skills, preserve the harvest, and try new things like this crabapple mostarda. I had never heard of mostarda before and I didn't even know that you could eat crabapples. I received a copy of Preserving Wild Foods (I really love this book. It's divided into habitats and that really appeals to the cook and biologist in me) for Christmas last year and it has a recipe for crabapple mostarda that I found very intriguing. Plus, my in-laws have a tree full of lovely crabapples that were up for grabs. So making this mostarda was meant to be. I must give props to my husband who was instrumental through the candying process. This recipe is not quick, and, in fact, takes about 6 days in total. Most of the photos were taken by him as he was the one who heated up the syrup each day. Each day the crabapples turned lighter color and the syrup turned darker.
Mostarda is an Italian candied fruit with mustard that is often served with roasted meats or cheese plates. I plan to use at least one jar as a garnish/side to our roasted heritage turkey this Thanksgiving. Crabapples are very tart so they are really lovely for the candying process. Choose firm crabapples. Aside from the mustard seeds, they are spiced with some black peppercorns and cinnamon stick. The original recipe called for horseradish root rather than black pepper. However, I was unable to easily find fresh horseradish root, so I improvised. I also proportioned the recipe up to make more mostarda because we had about 3 pounds of crabapples. This recipe made just under 6 pints. The jars are perfect for bringing as a hostess gift, placing on your fall/winter holiday tables, or giving as a unique homemade gift.
3 lbs. crabapples
1/4 cup plus 1 heaped tablespoon mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 tablespoon black pepper corns
6 cups water
1-1/2 lbs. granulated sugar, preferably unbleached
Rinse the crabapples well and then using a clean stick pin, prick each crabapple all over about 12-15 times. Place in a large ceramic or glass container that has a lid (I used a large Corning dish).
Gather all of the spices in large tea ball or a double-layered piece of cheesecloth (gather and secure with twine). Place it into a large heavy-bottom pot along with the sugar and water. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for another 10 minutes and then increase to heat to high and boil for 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
Immediately pour the hot liquid, include the spices, over the crabapples. Cover and leave on the counter.
Every 24 hours for the next 4 days, drain the syrup back into the heavy bottom pot using a fine sieve, separating the crabapples from the syrup. Place the crabapples back into the ceramic dish. Heat the syrup over high heat, let it boil for about 30 seconds, and then immediately pour it over the fruit and cover. It is recommended you wear gloves while doing this.
One the 5th day, remove one crabapple with tongs. Slice it in half. If the fruit is rosy all the way through (like below), they are ready. If not, you can continue to boil and cover for another 1-2 days and check again.
Taste the crabapple and check the spice flavor. If you feel they are spicy enough, discard the spices. Otherwise, you can use them in the canned jars. Properly sterilize 6 pint-sized canning jars and lids. Fill the jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space (it can be a little tricky because the crabapples bob and float). Add 1-2 teaspoons of the spice mix, if desired. Wipe the rims and put on the sterilized lids. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. We ended up with 5 pint jars and one jelly jar. If you can't fill the 6th jar, you can just refrigerate the remaining portion and use them first. Make sure the jars seal and store in a cool, dark place.
What was I cooking one year ago?: summer squash macaroni and cheese
Two years ago?: zucchini pancakes
Three?: spiced peach butter