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Sauce Comparison

I have the opportunity to test two types of peeled plum tomatoes in order to see what differences there are if there are any. The first can is the 28oz can of Tuttorosso and the other is Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes. If I make my standard sauce will I or my family be able to tell the difference?

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The first can I opened was Cento. What I got from this can was peeled tomatoes and very little to no water. I have used Tuttorosso on multiple occasions and have never had a complaint. Upon opening it I recognized far more water than what Cento had. This was my first surprise as I had never really taken this into account. As for smell, there is a difference, but sorry, it was difficult for me to determine exactly what I was detecting. I would give the edge to Cento. Overall, Cento had less water and a different aroma that was for a lack of a better word more pleasant. This isn’t to say Tuttorosso was bad, but if I were doing a blind smell test, Cento would win.

Upon the initial taste, Cento had a more acidic tomato taste while the Tuttorosso had a sweeter and more pleasant taste. For Americans, I would imagine the Tuttorosso would be preferred. Overall, I would not turn either one down, but I wonder if the tomato juice in the Tuttorosso gives the sweet flavor. I prefer no tomato juice, but when you buy on price you get what you pay for , I guess. As I cooked my sauce down, the Cento was ahead as it appeared to be thickened from the start while the Tuttorosso was soupy and needed more time to cook down. Cooking the Tuttorosso down to the proper consistency gives you less sauce as you struggle to remove water in a timely manner.

I added as ingredients olive oil, onions, garlic, cheese, and basil to the sauce. Will these ingredients help mask the differences? The image on the left was prepared with Cento while the image on the right was prepared with Tuttorosso. Visually, I found the Cento to appear thicker but upon eating the two with pasta, they both appeared more watery than I thought they would be. When it came down to flavor, here is where I was surprised. There was very little difference between the two sauces. Cento was more flavorful but not worth the cost. The added ingredients altered, in a good way, the taste of the sauce enough to make it a push. I did have others sample and they couldn’t tell a difference between the two.

In the end, I do not appreciate paying for Tuttorosso’s tomato juice and water when I expect all tomatoes. In the past, I have added tomato paste to help thicken the Tuttorosso sauce. Cento’s price is too high to justify buying when I make this sauce even though without the added ingredients it tastes far better and fresher than Tuttorosso.

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Tomato Sauce

Growing with pasta being a side or even the main element of our meals, I am accustomed to eating tomato sauce for every meal. It was spaghetti for meals and rigatoni as a side, though, we did eat rigatoni for meals, too. There was also the other pasta from ziti to gnocchi. The sauce was the biggest element of the pasta.

I have spent years looking for the ideal sauce. At one time, my wife, a non-Italian, was given a recipe for homemade sauce from cans. We all can’t have gardens or fresh tomatoes on hand. It was time-consuming but tasty. As much as I liked it, it lacked the character from my mother’s sauces. To be honest, my mother had different types from those made with pork or other meats to a simple sauce and even on a few occasions, we had the jar sauce when necessity called for it. The emergency sauce was quite rare.

There are plenty of recipes for a sauce all over the internet with people advocating one ingredient over the other. My sister and I have even argued over the idea of sugar. I said my mother didn’t add it while my sister says yes. Truth be told, it depended on the taste of the sauce our mother was making, and you can’t taste sauce without a hunk of Italian bread dipped into the sauce. Oh, how I remember getting a bowl of sauce to eat with bread.

San Marzanos from Italy is the popular selection of tomatoes. Growing up I never heard of these and even more likely were not available. If they were, my family probably couldn’t afford them, so we did without those. Funny how the flavor didn’t change that much.

I never liked onions in my sauce, but my mother most definitely added onions. She would have finely chopped them so I would not have recognized them. Eating a hunk of onion in my sauce ruins the experience for me. Going along with onions is garlic, and there were certain varieties she used in the sauce. These two seemed to go hand in hand.

Olive oil was another ingredient she used. I can recall the huge tin of oil and how my family purchased the olive oil with frequency. The olive oil was never missing in the sauce.

When it comes to herbs, we had basil and oregano. There may have been rosemary, bay leaves, and a few others but this was never mentioned. Red pepper flakes could be an element of the sauce. Of course, she added salt, not an herb. The amount was dependent upon the flavor.

We never had ground beef in the sauce but would often find pork in the sauce and sometimes combined with meatballs. These meatballs were on the small side and were never cooked in the sauce. Sausage was another item that could be found in the sauce. In fact, you could find any combination of meat in the sauce.

One item we never had in the sauce was wine. I suspect this comes from my grandfather who did not drink. Funny, he did have a bar in the basement but never drank. This is one item that my mother never mentioned, and I have tried without great success.

When it comes to carrots and celery, well these were never included. I’ve tried both and found them to be sometimes offputting with the texture. I really don’t have an opinion of them one way or the other. There is one ingredient I have tried with mixed results.

Anchovies have imparted interesting flavor in my sauce. My mother didn’t use them in sauce, but I have found several people that have. Too much and you have a fishy sauce. Just right and you get a unique character that isn’t bad. For now, I’ll leave this out. Another item, unrelated to anchovies, is sugar and I detest sugar in my sauce.

As I wind this post down, I recognize that I missed a huge opportunity and that was never asking my mother about her sauce and how she made it. She was always there, so I didn’t have to worry, however, I somehow forgot that once I got married I no longer had access to her sauce. In my search to find a good sauce, I have discovered the many methods of making a sauce but with none that have been worthy of my taste. I will continue to search for the perfect red sauce, but I have learned a few things.

Most ingredients are not needed especially sugar. As much as I don’t care for onions in my sauce, they do add a sweetness that isn’t overpowering. There are three basic ingredients and they are tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. From there, you can add to your heart’s content or at least until you reach your level of taste. For me, onions, basil, oregano, and salt are four additional items I will add.

 

That Homemade Sauce, From a Jar.

August 2, 2017 Leave a comment

I have Italian blood coursing through my veins. Pasta, red sauce, cannoli are vital to my life even at the expense of my Germanic other-half. It has even been said that I ruined my first born on the red sauce by feeding it to him on a continual basis when he was a toddler. I just think the German part of him is sour much like sauerkraut. When I make pasta there is one problem I often face and that is time to make the sauce and the lack of necessary ingredients.

A jar of sauce is a convenient way to make a pasta and ruin the experience, too. Quality jar sauces are too expensive, and this leaves me with the Ragus and Pregos of the grocery store. I truly hate them. They’re too sweet and, well, just not very good. There is a solution to using these jars without any good Italian recognizing the imposter. Yes, I have actually seen Italians, proud of their tastes, claim an imposter to be a good sauce. I have a friend that has been clueless every time we make a sauce and he prides himself on his Italian heritage. Is there a secret to making a jar sauce palatable? Yes.

Two main ingredients are quality garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Seriously, olive oil is key and you need to find a very good maker and pay the price. Right now I use a domestic olive oil, California Olive Ranch. The imported are risky as you don’t know how long they been sitting since they were bottled and where they were sitting. There are even incidences of so-called quality olive oils from Italy being fake. A good way to know is to buy a bottle and test it. There is a bit of a wow factor when you taste the good oil. As for garlic, you want a type that you like as there are many varieties of garlic. I prefer not to use elephant garlic as it is part of the onion family, and I do not care for onions in my sauce.

You want to heat oil in a sauce pan before adding the garlic to infuse flavor. Don’t worry if you allow your garlic to sit idle for a bit after mincing. Apparently, there are healthy things happening when you do. Do not cook the garlic for too long as you don’t want it to brown. I usually eye it to my liking and turn the heat down before adding the dreaded jar. This is the first step.

The next step is allowing it to simmer for a short time while adding dried oregano and basil. It can simmer while you heat up the water and cook the spaghetti. Keep in mind of the sauce you are using as you could add too much if there is already plenty of these herbs in the sauce. You could try fresh but the dried imparts more flavor. This doesn’t make the jar taste go away, but it becomes palatable. You can add onions before the garlic and let the onions cook down. Another option, and a great

You can add onions before the garlic and let the onions cook down. Adding olives to the sauce, don’t fry these, imparts a nice flavor, too. Another option, and a great one, is to add meat. My mother would fry up some pork on the bone and add it to the sauce. The pork and bone change the flavor for the best. You can add just about any type of meat to the sauce. Oh, do NOT make meatballs and place them in the sauce without first cooking the meatballs. The texture and taste become wrong with the meatballs if you do that. DO NOT buy the pre-packaged meatballs. Just make a large batch, broil or fry them, and freeze them. Adding real cheese, not the wood chips you find in the plastic containers, helps with the flavor of the sauce. Sometimes I’ll add tomato paste or another type of canned tomatoes.

The base of altering a jar sauce is the olive oil and garlic. From there you can add what you like to produce a sauce you can enjoy with your pasta. Some people prefer ground beef to pork or meatballs. My wife doesn’t like the cheese in the sauce while I try to sneak it in. The key is to add the very best ingredients to the jar sauce.

What about a white sauce? Make the real thing! You can’t improve the jar alfredo sauce. Look online for a good sauce recipe, and it will be unhealthy. Anything fat-free or has a substitute for health reasons does not taste good. We all know it, so why trying to fake ourselves as we struggle to eat horrible items. Just do not eat the white sauce as often or not at all. As for the red sauce, alter the jar sauce if you cannot make the real sauce.