Monday, August 19, 2013

Crabapple mostarda

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.

Crabapple mostarda
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


  1. Had crabapples a few decades ago...can't even remember how they taste...:-)) The pickles sound really tasty!

  2. I remember biting into one of these off the tree as a kid...big mistake! I bet this way is much better =)

  3. I never had a matter of fact, it is the first time I ever heard of it...
    So interesting pickling with mustard seeds...looks yum!
    Have a great week Amy :D

  4. This is a great way to put those crabapples to use! Plus it just looks so holiday-ish! I love the idea of serving it for Thanksgiving.

  5. Oh how interesting! I have never heard of crab apples. This looks delicious. I could pop a few into my mouth right now.

  6. What an interesting post & I must say that this is the 1st time that I've heard of crap-apples! This is certainly what I like to do for the coming fall. Great way to preserve tasty seasonal fruits. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe! ;)

  7. We had a crabapple tree in our yard when I was a child so this is totally bringing back memories! What an interesting recipe! I've been wanting to get into canning for a while but still haven't taken the plunge.

  8. I don't think I've ever had a crabapple OR a mostarda!! What a cool recipe!

  9. I don't think I've ever had crabapple. This recipe is intriguing! Thanks for sharing.

  10. This is so interesting!I never know what to do with crab apples.

  11. Ooh, this will be fantastic with your turkey this fall! It sounds and looks delish.

  12. I've never had a crabapple before! Very interesting!

  13. I've never eaten a crabapple... sure does look good though. Very pretty jars. I need to learn how to can foods for when my hubby starts gardening! :)

  14. A great and healthy idea to preserve your food.
    The colors look so cute and tasty
    Thanks for sharing, Amy!

  15. Hi Amy first time I see crabapple. Very interesting recipe. Look so refreshing.

    Have a great day ahead.

  16. Ahhh there are so many good reasons to can and preserve your own food! This post is really encouraging, because I've always wanted to get more into it but always lacked some sort of motivation... these crab apples are so cute. I've never tried one, but I saw some at the farmers market last week and imagine that I'd love them (I've got a penchant for sour notes). Thanks for sharing this, Amy!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. If you give it a try, please let me know. I'm looking forward to cracking a jar open at Thanksgiving!

  17. Yum! I love learning new recipes like this! PINNED!!


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