Fig Mostarda

August 12, 2016(updated on April 5, 2024)

Sweet and savory, this fragrant fig mostarda is a delicious and unconventional way to preserve this season’s crop of fresh figs!

Vertical image of jars of fig mostarda

Sometime in the middle of July, I got an email from the folks at California Figs. They were writing to see if they could send me some fresh figs from the new crop that was just coming into the market. There were no strings attached to the offer and no blog posts were required, they just wanted to send some figs*. As it happens, one of my guiding principles in life is to simply smile and say “thank you, yes please,” any time someone wants to give me fresh figs.

Figs in their packing boxes

A box from California Figs arrived two weeks ago and contained a bounty of figs. Four flats, each containing a different variety (Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Sierra, and Tiger figs, for those of you who are curious). It took me a week to work my way through them, but through steady preserving (and a good bit of snacking), I turned those four flats into five different preserves.

A tray of black mission figs for fig mostarda

I’m going to dole these recipes out over the next couple weeks (I’ve been doing a LOT of preserving lately, so it’s going to be mostly recipes around these parts for the next month or so). The first recipe I have to share is this one for Fig Mostarda. Mostarda is a traditional Italian preserve, typically made by candying fruit in a simple syrup that’s been spiked with potent mustard oil.

Black mission figs in an All-Clad pot

We can’t get concentrated mustard oil in the US (it’s the primary ingredient in mustard gas and so it a controlled substance) and so the preserves that I call mostarda are more like chunky jams, made pungent with a liberal application of mustard seeds, a touch of cayenne pepper to tickle your nose, and cider vinegar to lend a certain tanginess.

Adding sugar to the black mission figs for fig mostarda

Mostardas as I make them are really great condiments to eat with cheese (I have a feeling that this fig mostarda would pair really nicely with a crumbly cheddar) or dolloped alongside a platter of cold grilled vegetables (I am imagining it with charred onions and summer squash). Oh, or what about spooning it into a freshly baked gougere that’s just been torn in half? Heaven!

Adding mustard seeds to the figs

The recipe starts with two and a half pounds of figs, which isn’t an impossible amount to obtain (in the past, I’ve kept my eyes peeled for figs at Trader Joe’s. They’re often affordable enough that I can buy a few pounds without too much pain). I used black mission figs, but if you have access to a fig tree, use those. The color will be different, but the flavor will still be good.

Uncooked fig mostarda with sugar and mustard seeds

One more thing about figs. It’s always important to use recipes that have added acid, as their pH is typically a bit too high for safe canning. I used a goodly amount of vinegar to ensure that this mostarda is safe, but if you’re winging your fig jam, make sure to acidify them like tomatoes and use 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice for every pint of product that you’re canning up. That ensures that the finished product will be safe for processing a boiling water bath canner and won’t even entertain the risk of botulism.

Line-up of jars of fig mostarda

If you’re looking for a recipe with a similar flavor profile to this fig mostarda that can be made with dried figs, check out this recipe for Homemade Fig Mustard. It’s definitely more sandwich spread than cheese plate accompaniment, but is a great thing to make during the fresh fig off season.

4.75 from 4 votes

Fig Mostarda

Servings: 5 half pints


  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh figs
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Wash and trim the stems if they’ve gotten hard. Quarter the figs and set them in a low, wide, non-reactive pan.
  • Add the sugar to the figs and stir to combine. Let the figs and sugar macerate for several hours, until there is a goodly amount of liquid in the pan.
  • When you’re ready to cook, prepare a boiling water bath canner and five half pint jars.
  • Add the apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, salt, and cayenne to the pan and stir to combine.
  • Set the pan over high heat and bring the fruit to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and the liquid thickens. Towards the end, you will need to stir even more.
  • Once you’re happy with the consistency of the mostarda (it should be softer than a jam), remove the pan from the heat.
  • Funnel the mostarda into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortable handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

*I think they knew that I wouldn’t be able to resist writing about what I made.

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44 thoughts on "Fig Mostarda"

  • What about the mustard oil sold at Indian markets? Is that something different?
    Fig jam is totally my jam–I am obsessed with Linda Ziedrich’s recipe with bay leaf and fennel. Now if I could just get good figs! I would love to hear your thoughts on the different varieties you received as you share your recipes.

    1. That mustard oil isn’t nearly as concentrated as the Italian mustard oil that is used in the making of mostarda.

  • How does this compare to your fig mustard, which I have bookmarked but haven’t made yet? The biggest difference I see here is grinding the mustard seeds for the other recipe.

    1. This is much less mustardy than the fig mustard. The fresh figs make it more like a jam and less like mustard.

      1. I hope it’s okay for me to hope into the stream of conversation. I have a neighbor with a mission fig tree and she doesn’t like figs…I do 🙂 I’ve made the fig jam from Food in Jars. Actually, I have all three of your canning cookbooks and read them like novels. Having said that I don’t recall seeing a fig mustard recipe. Did I miss it? Is it in one of them? I love figs and am crazy about mustard so this sounds like a perfect marriage to me. The figs are ripe and I need as many fig recipes and I can find.

        I’m looking forward to hearing what else you made with those figs.

        Love your recipe books. Thank you for sharing with us.


  • Excellent! I look forward to more fresh fig recipes.

    Both my parents and my sister have fig trees. She doesn’t care for them and her boys don’t eat that many. My parents and I eat them fresh but you can only eat so many.

    A few years ago I made a spiced fig jam that came out very nice but I am always on the lookout for new recipes. I especially like working with either adding booze of some sort or flowers. My current favorites are bourbon and rose geranium, but not together. Apricot bourbon and strawberry rose geranium were my last attempts.

    Not really keen on adding whole mustard seeds. Is there any sort of substitute?

    I’m wondering if there is a way to make mustard oil.

  • You are so lucky! I love figs! If I can find some figs at the market, I’ll have to try this recipe. Yum!

    1. From a safety perspective, it would be fine (see this recipe for a situation in which I’ve used grainy prepared mustard). I wouldn’t use it in this recipe, though. It would change the flavor.

  • I can’t wait for my tiny fig tree to start producing. I made your peach mostarda and once a jar is opened, I can’t quit eating it. I only wish I’d made more of it instead of peach jam before all my peaches were used up!! I can imagine that the fig mostarda must be even better.

  • Read this to the hubs…we have quite a few figs on the trees. Will try this plus looking forward to the other recipes.

  • I’m lucky to live in California where there are lots of fig trees. My gardener has two varieties of figs at his home. He always brings me LOTS of figs! This looks like a great addition to my recipe box. I will try it as soon as possible.

  • I made this last weekend with figs from a friend, and loved it so much I had to make more this weekend. I can’t imagine running out before next year’s fig season. We ate it with brie and thin slices of steak on a toasted baguette – excellent!

  • Still can’t stop making this recipe. Small batch canning to keep up with my figs ripening at their episodic pace. Can’t wait to give them as gifts!

  • Hi Marissa,
    this sounds lovely.
    Do you think I can safely up the amount of Mustard seeds to 1/2 cup? It would be lovely to have an outcome more on the mustardy-Side…

      1. thanks for the tip, Marisa.. the recipe calls for dried figs, and I have fresh ones on hand 😉 so I’ll stay with the Mostarda recipe!

  • Did you ever post any more of your fig recipes mentioned in this post? I’m expecting lots of figs this summer and would love to try some new recipes. This mostarda recipe is the first one on my list! I would also love any kind of fresh fig version of your fig mustard, or a fig barbeque sauce. I have my go-to jam & pickle recipes, of course, but anything I can do to safely can the abundance of figs is always welcome. Thank you so much for a wonderful blof and of course all your books, which I love.

  • By the way, I did make a batch of this and it was perfect! I used figs from my tree and oh, the color was gorgeous and the taste divine. I am putting it on everything. I am sad I only got four jars out of it, but I am waiting eagerly for the next round of figs to ripen on my tree to make more. I saw containers of figs at the store for $8.99 ea. yesterday and this recipe was so good I was actually tempted, but restrained myself for the promise of free figs. This is now in my top five canning recipes and certainly my top 2 favorite fig recipes. I am going to try your peach mostarda next because I am pretty sure my life is no longer complete without some kind of jar of mostarda in the fridge and the peaches are coming in. 🙂

  • I just recently found your site and I’m in love! I just went to Trader Joe’s this weekend to gobble up almost the last of the figs they’re selling (I can tell they won’t be getting much more for the season). I love fresh figs and recently made a fig coffee cake. I’ve got figs and sugar macerating for the Mostarda as we speak, I bought enough figs to make two batches… But I’d better get more figs while I can as I see the post for Fig Mustard is also calling my name! I love that you don’t use pectin in your jam recipes. I too do not like the consistency or flavor imparted by commercial pectin. I can’t wait to taste this when it’s finished and I also hope I can hold onto a few jars for myself, because I love to share. 🙂 Any other of your favorite suggestions? Especially anything I can do into the fall and winter. 🙂

  • I bumped into the Fig Mostarda recipe, really awesome. I am about to try this recipe for the for the first time. Never cooked figs for a jam or preserving so this is my first lesson.
    I would like to add apples to the fig as well. You mentioned lemon juice to the figs in your write up and also apple cider vinegar. Should both be used?

    1. The reference to lemon juice was a general recommendation for fig jam. You don’t need it in this recipe because of the apple cider vinegar.

  • I can’t wait to try this! I have pounds and pounds of frozen figs from my tree. I made your plum mostarda over the summer and my only regret was making a half batch. My friends fought over the few jars that I had. They are gonna be thrilled with this.

  • 4 stars
    Made this with 1 1/4 cups of sugar because my kadota figs were splitting with sweetness. No problem with thickening and it is still quite sweet. Cayenne is nearly undetectable; might up the level next time. I measured weight after trimming stem and bottom ends of figs. Is that correct? I like this recipe and hope it improves with age. A little milder than I’d expected.

    1. The starting weight is 2 1/2 pounds, before prepping. But it really shouldn’t impact the recipe at all if you prepped before weighing. And it could be that my cayenne was more potent than yours. Or that you have a higher heat tolerance than I do.

  • 5 stars
    Just made this and everyone is in love with its rich flavor! I’ll be making again for sure!

  • I was looking on a food website about fig mostarda that also had balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar and using brown sugar – thought? Have figs in freezer and thought cool – I will look up a recipe! Thanks –

  • 5 stars
    Such a great recipe! I made 12 pints of this deliciousness. I did cut down the sugar by 2 cups, used the black mustard seeds, as our store didn’t carry them, & added more cayenne pepper to give it a bit more of a kick. I’d never tried fresh figs until we moved to the Hampton Peninsula. Believe me, I’m a convert!

  • Recipe sounds delicious, but can you please provide the recipe’s yield? Also, can this recipe be doubled? Thanks!

    1. So sorry! The yield got stripped out when I switched recipe applications. It makes five half pints.