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Mostarda D’Uva (Cognà)

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Grape Must and Autumn Fruits Stew Together to Make a Classic Piemontese Condiment

The time of the wine harvests in the Monferrato is also a time to make mostarda d’uva, called cognà in the Piemontese dialect, a fruit conserve whose primary ingredient is the grape must from the harvest. The name is misleading: there is no mustard or mustard seed in the preparation. Instead, “mostarda” most likely derives from the word mosto in Italian, meaning grape must.

Here at Casinca Piola we have just completed the barbera harvest, and giant pots of mostarda d’uva are bubbling away: reduced grape must, figs, quince, apples, and pears are all cooking together. When the fruit has stewed sufficiently we will pass it through a food mill to remove skins and seeds, producing a smooth puree. At that point finely ground toasted hazelnuts, another specialty from Piemonte, will be added with ground walnut halves and spices.

Mostarda d’uva goes perfectly with a number of Piemontese specialties, from the classic bollito misto (boiled mixed meats), to fresh cheeses, and polenta. Children will eat it as a snack, spread on toast.

Piero and Raffa jar their mostarda d’uva, which they sell along with their other jarred regional specialties on their farm and in organic markets and stores throughout Europe.

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