cutting through acid in sauces?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by gobblygook, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I'm looking for a way to change the PH of sauces to cut the acidity, as opposed to just dropping in some sugar.  For instance, even a "sweet" tomato sauce angers my stomach at times.  Sadly, I love tomato sauces. 

    "Sauces" by James Peterson suggests using a sweet wine to cut the acidity and then adding vinegar to mask the sweetness.  I was hoping for something that would actually modify the PH rather than just the taste.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. gunnar

    gunnar

    Messages:
    1,447
    Likes Received:
    47
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    thick cream or butter? maybe a bit more EVOO? Just thinking that if your trying to cut acidity encapsulating it in a bit of fat may help protect your stomach. Are you specifically talking tomato sauces? it's the most acidic I can think of off the top of my head. I can only guess that's what all the garlic bread or bread and butter is for, to help cut the acidity of a red sauce. Cheese would probably help in that aspect as well, it's full of fats and milk proteins.
     
  3. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I try to avoid adding oil to tomato sauce, as the tomato has its own oil.  I'd rather play jr high chemist and toss baking soda on acid, but I have a feeling that it'll end up tasting like baking soda.  I've tried parm and oil to a degree.  However, there's no such thing as too much parm.
     
  4. tylerm713

    tylerm713

    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    35
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    If your goal is to lower the pH of the sauce, adding parmesan would be counter-productive since it is a fairly low pH item.
     
     
  5. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    46
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I think there is a difference between sour and acid.  You change the sourness with something sweet, you change acidity with an alkali (soda).  In the case of food, unless you need to decrease the actual acidity for some reason, the main concern is taste, so forget the acidity, and add something sweet.

    First of all, check your tomatoes.  You don;t say where you live, but i think this is not good tomato season anywhere (maybe the equator?).  So if you're using fresh tomatoes, use canned.  Then experiment around and get good canned tomatoes.  You might try a very tiny amount of tomato paste or a couple of sun dried tomatoes soaked in water, added to the sauce then blend the sauce.  They tend to be sweeter, because picked ripe and the drying process sweetens them (like dried prunes).

    Since most sauces begin with a sautee (soffritto) of garlic, onion, both, or more, I would add more onion, which is sweet, and more carrot, also sweet, to the soffritto.  If you don;t like all the pieces in the sauce you can blend it after. 

    Hot pepper is also alkali, i believe, though I'm not sure if it would diminish the sourness.  I leave that to the chemists to determine.

    In some regions of Italy they add a bit (pinch) of sugar too.  No reason not to. 
     
  6. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    GG, many people have a higher sensibility toward acidity in their food, this time of the year, the changing of seasons. I have it too and it includes a very high sensibility toward drinks like white wines and champagnes. However, there's a simple trick our grandmothers already used, and I even see you use the product too, but maybe not in the right way. You call it baking powder, but many call it bicarbonate (of soda). Grandmothers trick was to put 1/4 of a teaspoon of that stuff in a small glass of water, stir and drink it. It just tastes a little salty. I do it too and I can guarantee you the burning feel in your stomach stops immediately. There are some natural sparkling waters that contain the stuff too. I guess Apollinaris is one of them. Very salty taste that one!

    BTW, try cutting too much acidity by adding a little more salt!

    I wouldn't try to change your good recipes by putting in bicarbonate. Over here in Europe, good chefs have always checked for p&s in their dishes, but more recently they put an emphasis on a nice acidity balance, which takes a dish to a higher level. Many times they will add lemonjuice, vinegar, verjus  etc. to correct the balance.

    The same goes for wines, since ages. Any wine without the right amount of nice acids is just boring.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    177
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Chris,

    What you are refering to is not baking powder but it is baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. Sometimes in baking baking powder and baking soda are used in same formulas. Baking powder is normally not put in a glass of water to drink, baking soda is, in fact it is the base of both Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer.
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

    Messages:
    6,367
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    Chris, one slight correction.

    Bicarb, in the U.S. is known as baking soda. Baking powder is a mixture of several ingredients, and is used as a leavening agent in things like quick breads.
     
  9. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    My sauce is just canned tomatoes (with as few ingredients on the label as possible), granulated garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  The sauce starts by opening the can and pouring in, no sweating or saute'. 

    I'm not trying to impact the taste, just the PH.  It seems that all of the usual suspects for modifying sauces are acidic, such as wine, vinegar, fruit juices, etc. 

    The sweet flavor is cut with acid and the acid flavor is cut with sweet.  But again, I'm looking at the underlying PH, which is what my stomach cares about.  My father-in-law also has an issue with tomato sauces for this reason. 

    In my experience, sugar seems to feed a fermentation process in tomato sauces.  That's the only way I can explain the increase in volume due to bubbles, but there may be something else causing that.  It only seems to happen with sugar, at least that's the only ingredient I've used that causes it. 
     
  10. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    206
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Ed & KY, you're right, I was referring to baking soda instead of baking powder. Sorry for that.

    Still, GG, believe me, it's the most effective way to get rid of those acid attacs.
     
  11. gonefishin

    gonefishin

    Messages:
    1,466
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    At home cook
         Have you tried changing your tomatoes?  I'm not sure what canned tomatoes you're using, but San Marzano's are lower than some of the other types of canned tomatoes you find.  How are you adding the garlic?  Have you tried blanching the garlic before it's added?  

      dan
     
     
  12. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    160
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Prilosec, Pepcid-A/C, Tums, Bi-carb, the "Purple pill"
     
     
  13. bughut

    bughut

    Messages:
    1,730
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    A little baking soda wont hurt the flavour of your sauce. I'm talking a pinch to a pint. Its a wee bit salty so you'd want to alter the seasoning.

    Gunnars idea of adding dairy is the most obvious choice, as the calcium in cream etc will neutralise the acid. It's altering your sauce dramatically, but then perhaps some compromise is called for here
     
  14. macgregor

    macgregor

    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Curious to know how long you cook your sauce as that can contribute to it being more acidic.

    Have you considered not just the tomato, but the source? Are they canned tomatoes or in glass jars? The BPA and phtalates in the lining of canned products and especially canned tomatoes can cause some health problems.

    Do you buy organic non gmo? 

    Just a couple ideas off of the top of my head. When I searched google for a an answer, the typical response I saw was to put small amounts of bicarbonate in the sauce up until the point you could taste it.
     
  15. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    46
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I thought it was for the sour taste, instead i see you meant for your stomach.  My question is, does the acidity of the food influence the acidity of the stomach???

    I think, for instance, for some people dairy would increase stomach acidity.  I'm not sure the acid of the tomato increases it.  Maybe i'm wrong.  But that;s another thing to consider. 
     
  16. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    I'm adding granulated garlic (to avoid having to blanch the raw garlic to kill the enzyme that causes gelling).  This is your basic open a can, toss in some spices, heat to 200 degrees or so and toss on some pasta.  It's nothing fancy at all, not cooked long, etc.  It's half a step above opening a can that says "spaghetti sauce".  But yes, they are canned.  From the shape, I expect they're roma tomatoes -- which is the standard for pasta sauces (unless you spring for san marzano).

    Tomatoes seem to come in at the 4.2-4.6 ph level, so they're fairly acidic.
     
  17. petemccracken

    petemccracken

    Messages:
    3,401
    Likes Received:
    160
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  18. siduri

    siduri

    Messages:
    3,599
    Likes Received:
    46
    Exp:
    At home cook
    what is gelling? 

    I';ve never blanched garlic; i can;t imagine why that would be necessary.  Dried garlic has a different taste, and is not too appealing.  Try smashing real garlic and just putting it in a little olive oil for a minute or two, till it gets soft, then throw in the tomatoes.  Leave off all those herbs, which may be stimulating the gastric juices, and which are covering the flavor of the tomatoes and garlic.

    I find that if you don't cook canned tomatoes very well, they won't taste good and will be more sour.  The cooking makes them taste smoother.  I would find a sauce with stuff right out of the can, just heated, to be indigestible.  I don't mean the hours of cooking you may read about, but just ten minutes simmering will make a big difference. 

    Pete, that's what i suspected. 
     
  19. tastytart

    tastytart

    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Other
    You could try using yellow tomato. I haven't seen any in cans, but they have a lower acid level.  Maybe by blending some of them with the red could result in a good sauce. 
     
  20. gobblygook

    gobblygook

    Messages:
    309
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Raw garlic will react with the pectin in tomatoes and form a gelatin.  You won't see this in warm sauces, but if you put it in the fridge overnight, sometimes there will be a gelatin formed.  It's easy to break up, but visually unappealing.  It reminds me of the consistency of canned cranberrry "sauce", though not quite as thick.