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October 18, 2009

Cinnamon Grape Jam--Um, I Mean Glaze

I had a ton of grapes leftover from the Pasadena Wine Fest, definitely more than I could eat in my single-person household, so I thought I'd make some jam one day last week, and turn my windfall into some nice Christmas gifts.

It was a great excuse to thumb through some of my cookbooks! What sounded like a great combination to me was Cinnamon Grape Preserves--a flavor pairing I never would have come up with on my own.

I found the recipe in my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Unfortunately, when I went for supplies, all I could find was liquid pectin, not the more common powdered form.

My Ball book had some great advice for me on using liquid pectin--turns out the process is more precise with this ingredient. I followed this information to the letter, bringing my fruit-sugar mixture to a full, hard rolling boil before adding the pectin, then letting the final mixture boil hard for another minute longer with the pectin added in before canning the mixture in a water bath canner.

I've gotten a bit ahead of myself in talking about the pectin process. I came up with another shortcut in the beginning, using my little Black & Decker food prep machine to chop small handfuls of the grapes, rather than going through the process of skinning all the grapes and chopping the skins, as called for in the recipe. I'd used seedless grapes, so I didn't have to remove the seeds. This little machine was a cast-off from my brother's garage sale, and I've found it to be really handy! I use it to chop herbs too whenever a recipe calls for a full bunch.

Here's all the equipment I used in this "experiment"--my water bath canner, five quart cast iron enamel pot, and colander of fruit.

From this colander of fruit I expected to get six or eight jars of jam. Since the fruit was free to me, that's a pretty good gift investment of only about fifteen bucks of materials.

This is the grape mixture with cinnamon and sugar added. I used ground cinnamon, not the stick suggested in the recipe. And since the grapes were so sweet, I added very little sugar--only a cup or two. Don't the bi-colored grapes look pretty together?

Now comes the confession--it didn't set. Even following the special instructions in the Ball book. I was left with yummy tasting, slightly syrupy stuff. I canned it all anyway, hoping that the liquid pectin would set over time.

While I waited to see how it would turn out, I gave some thought to what I could do with what I had. I came up with the idea of a glaze. Thanksgiving's coming up, so I'm hoping my friends will be roasting a ham. Basted onto meat, this failure will be a success, and an even more unusal homemade gift than the typical jar of jelly. Cinnamon-Grape Glazed Chicken is probably pretty great too. Can't think of a way for vegetarians to utilize this: Cinnamon-Grape Glazed Broccoli? Guess I'll just give it all away. It made more than I expected, and I ended up with ten jars.

Has anyone else had experience with liquid pectin? Have you ever tried to make a glaze on purpose? If anyone knows where or how I went wrong, I'd love to learn. Please leave a comment on my blog.

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