Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 24, 2012

Rainbow Fruit Sauce

After the Lazy Bride’s Dish, I was still feeling fairly lazy. So this week, we’re going with something that’s still a little on the lazy side. Let’s assume I have baked a “handsome ham” and, after all THAT work, I want something quick to dump on top of it for some “spice and color.”

Fruit cocktail to the rescue!

RAINBOW FRUIT SAUCE brightens this handsome ham, gives it spice and color … flavor that’s excitingly different:

Drain syrup from one (1 lb. 14 oz.) can fruit cocktail into saucepan; boil, uncovered, until thickened. Stir in 1/2 c. brown sugar (packed), 1-1/2 Tbsps. vinegar. Add fruit cocktail. Heat and serve over ham slices.

The fact that you can also turn this sauce into a “wonderful dessert quickie” by leaving out the vinegar and dumping it on cake is a little frightening. (Actually, it’s supposed to be poured over a “cake mix square,” which makes me wonder if you’re supposed to actually bake that cake, or this is just a square of cake mix with fruit cocktail splodged on top. That’s even more frightening.)

You know how sometimes you look at a list of ingredients and just shake your head? This was one of those times. (I seem to have those times a lot.)

Make sure you get “thick syrup” fruit cocktail for this. Really, it wouldn’t matter if you got the low-sugar version, considering how much brown sugar we’ll be adding.

I expected the syrup to thicken as it boiled, but it really didn’t. Maybe fruit cocktail syrup used to be more sugary back in the day? (Although, looking at the photo in the ad, maybe not.)

Add sugar and vinegar. Frown in concern.

And then when it’s, uh, done… dump the fruit cocktail in to warm through.

(You can tell the food photographer hadn’t actually cooked this. Compare the pale fruit cocktail in the ad, to this brown-sugar-coated version!)

I was pleasantly surprised — this was pretty good! The combination of vinegar and brown sugar results in (duh) a sweet-and-sour flavor — there’s really no taste of “fruit cocktail syrup,” although the chunks of fruit don’t let you forget what this was made from.

But, grapes just don’t work with this. Fruit cocktail grapes are pretty sad grapes anyway, and then when they’re on ham my taste buds just refused to try to make sense of things. Warm peaches and brown sugar are ideal on ham, though. I’d consider making this again (with just canned peaches, ignoring the rest of the fruits), although we so rarely have ham it isn’t likely to come up any time soon.

(And in case you’re wondering, I hadn’t baked that handsome ham. I just bought ham steaks. Lazy FTW!)

From the Flickr collection of Look Homeward, Harlot, who has a delightful assortment of vintage “er?” recipes.



  1. Peaches, yes, and pineapple would be good. A basic sweet and sour sauce.

  2. Oh, and Fruit Cocktail Cake is an old, old recipe that’s been around for ages and is very very good. Google it and you will get thousands of hits.

  3. Since I know people who eat ham with apricot jam… this seems normal. Well, except for the grapes. I agree: fruit cocktail grapes are just so very, very sad…

  4. I have a vague childhood memory that fruit cocktail grapes were (sometimes) more firm than they are nowadays. I am probably just seeing the past through rose-tinted glasses, however.

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