Thickening Tomato Sauce

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Joined Sep 24, 2013
Arrow Root

Egg Yolks

Roux

Tomato Paste

Throw it in a crock pot and let it sit over night and reduce

if you are not planning on freezing it make a cornstarch slurry
 
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Arrow Root

Egg Yolks

Roux

Tomato Paste

Throw it in a crock pot and let it sit over night and reduce

if you are not planning on freezing it make a cornstarch slurry
You should take a screen shot of this and keep it so you can have a chuckle when you're 10 years in the industry.
 
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OK. After that, this is gonna sound really Bohemian.

If I'm cooking from cans, which I have absolutely no problemmo doing, I take can by can in a very hot saute pan and reducing out the water from the juice. It actually takes only +/- 2-minutes per can, stirring the whole time. Really ... it's a lot quicker and easier than it sounds. Then dump it in a large pot to make the sauce. When you get halfway through, zap it with a boat-motor hand mixer until smooth and thick. Then I continue but I don't zap every can.
 
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If I'm out of time on the stove, and I have to tighten it up, I usually make an evoo rue. Stir in at or near boiling point until your sauce is where you want it.

I use #10 cans for the whole tomato and save the tops and bottoms. Put them on an outside grill, burn off the plastic.

Layer can tops underneath whatever long cooked sauce you're making. You'll never have to worry about burning the bottom again.


Jimbo
 
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Perhaps you could use less of the juices, but keep them in a bowl so if the sauce starts to run a bit dry you could use them. It may also depend on how long you leave yours to simmer, mine takes at least an hour.
 

cerise

Banned
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If you are using tinned/canned, I would go with San Marzano.  Turn the heat up high, then simmer.
 
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Hi French Foodie,

Kudos to Luc_H! I grow my own tomatoes and can tomato sauce for my family. Not sure why, but this year for the first time, I've had trouble with thickening. Slow boil for over a day, and it seemed to be getting more runny. I checked with my canning friends and they were all stumped. That sent me Online to try to find a solution, and there it was: Lemon juice was just the ticket! It thickened noticeably within minutes. Amazing. Thank you for the tip. I've shared it already with others.


Here are my observations:

Choose quality tomatoes.

as already stated, simmer, simmer then simmer longer.


Regular home cornstarch will not hold too long in an acidic environment like tomato sauce.


Add lemon juice, the added acid will help the natural pectin to firm up. (citric acid is better if you can find some).


If all else fails, add tomato paste.


Luc H.
 
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Nice to see an old post is still serving its purpose i.e. to help, share and give insight.

Thanks!

Luc H.
 
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I've never really done a proper job of making TS, but I thicken sauces by stickling them in a slow cooker with a towel over the lid to eliminate condensation.  Adjust temp/insulation to maintain just a very slight bubbling.  Reduces things to half overnight.  I rather like the sound of Iceman's method for TS.

Rick
 
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Commercial already made sauces are thickened with all types of things. Home made as Old School says is all in the  cooking,  longer you cook the thicker it gets. Which is the real way. Adding all those additives and thickeners is great  for a school lunch program.
 
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Commercial already made sauces are thickened with all types of things. Home made as Old School says is all in the  cooking,  longer you cook the thicker it gets. Which is the real way.
Not all tomatoes (varieties) will respond to being cooked down to a sauce/paste as RapidanGardner has experienced first hand. Commercial sauces are usually made from commercial tomato hybrids which are selected for their end use i.e.sauce making, ketchup, salsa, etc... (often without requiring any additives to thicken or texture).  Commercial sauces often have an advantage over homemade because of the tomatoes they use and, that works for them because that's what the consumer wants: no fuss.  Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to say homemade will always be superior to commercial but sweet overripe juicy freshly picked heirloom tomatoes may not cook down to a thick sauce like we would expect any tomatoes to do.  That is why I recommended a natural (yet scientific way) to thicken a stubborn batch of tomatoes.  I bet RapidGarner was stumped by the results he was getting because his crush tomatoes were drying up instead of thickening.

Luc H.
 
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PASTE Tomatoes:    Paste tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano etc [pear shaped] have low water content.  Salad Tomatoes are big and round with lots of water.   Commercial factories use paste tomatoes.  They might have vacuum processing also  [that's a guess]

2. I have a bunch of Chia seeds. In water they create a thick   clear jello like substance.  Plus they are really high in Omega 3 Oils.

[Chia from Costco]

So . . .  how do you fix a broken tomato???

       Use Tomato Paste !    :)

      Actually don't over water them all at once this causes cracks on top.    I'm setting up a fertilizer solution feeder like the nursery uses.  They fertilize every time they water. They  measure in PPM  [parts per million]. Pro fert. feeders are $500 +

My rig is based on Gilmore [or equal] spray hose end thing.  {Variable %  adjust]    Never NEVER use a sprayer that has ever had weed killer.  Parts per million of  herbicide will NUKE  your garden.   Bug spray past use is sort of OK.   

    Put a  valved Y valve in Recreation Vehicle/ food grade hose. [Regular hose has nasty chemicals. ]  Left Hose continues to drip irrigation system. with pressure reducer  Right Hose goes thru solution feeder.  Gilmore has 3/8" brass tube output. Will find a small hose and clamp to attach.  Then step up to garden hose or drip system hose. This feeds back in at lower pressure zone.   Might put in a second hose valved "Y"  to feed back in . [ Need a double female hose adapter}   From plumbing / hardware store or Lowes./ Home Depot.

     Will let you know when it works.  This is in the early "Brain / Drain Storm idea stage. 
 
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You may not like the answer but you need to cook it longer. When O do my sauce with fresh tomatoes it simmers for close to 12 hours. 
This x1000. I have heard from many an Italian nona that tomato sauce MUST MUST MUST be simmered for at least 3 hours. Not only is that kind of cook time going to reduce your sauce down to something thicker, it'll also develop much more complex flavour than a recipe that calls for  say, 40 minutes simmering. Another good technique is to sub out your sugar for grated carrot- this is actually an authentic Italian method of cutting the acidity in the sauce (or so I'm told by my friends from overseas) and does do a little to thicken your sauce. I would recommend against adding cornstarch, you're going to get much better flavour by just reducing the sauce down to desired thickness. You may need to adjust the amount of liquid you've got in your recipe to allow for a quicker reduction.
 
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I believe that a longer cooking time would help to thicken the sauce, and improve the taste as well; I do not agree that refrigerating and separating the sauce really helps overall.
 
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Commercial already made sauces are thickened with all types of things. Home made as Old School says is all in the  cooking,  longer you cook the thicker it gets. Which is the real way. Adding all those additives and thickeners is great  for a school lunch program.
 
Not all tomatoes (varieties) will respond to being cooked down to a sauce/paste as RapidanGardner has experienced first hand. Commercial sauces are usually made from commercial tomato hybrids which are selected for their end use i.e.sauce making, ketchup, salsa, etc... (often without requiring any additives to thicken or texture).  Commercial sauces often have an advantage over homemade because of the tomatoes they use and, that works for them because that's what the consumer wants: no fuss.  Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to say homemade will always be superior to commercial but sweet overripe juicy freshly picked heirloom tomatoes may not cook down to a thick sauce like we would expect any tomatoes to do.  That is why I recommended a natural (yet scientific way) to thicken a stubborn batch of tomatoes.  I bet RapidGarner was stumped by the results he was getting because his crush tomatoes were drying up instead of thickening.

Luc H.
Yes , this is interesting because , it depends on what kind of tomatoes you're using. Plum tomatoes or heirloom four example . I will be doing a Bolognese  sauce with heirloom tomatoes. I will cook it for some hours and keep watch on how it develops I could add lemon juice to thicken because heirlooms are very runny . 
 
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AlexB,

a little observations I have seen and some techniques: Pectin works better in an acidic environment with low heat (simmer) and the longer, the better.  If you know your tomatoes will not cook down to a thick sauce (because you tried it already), add your lemon juice in the beginning before cooking down.  Very ripe juicy end of season tomatoes tend to be sweeter rather than acidic. (afterall the tomato is a fruit).

My suggestion: add the juice of 1/2 a lemon per Kg of tomatoes (2lbs), cook down.  If the tomato mash looks fibrous and dry rather than saucy than add more lemon juice.  It should change rather quickly at that point.  If you cooked down too dry and added lemon juice but see no change (that has happen to me in the past) slowly add some water and it will thicken up.

Citric acid (main acid of lemon and limes) is often added to tomato products (i.e canned tomatoes and sauces) for this thickening reason. It also brightens the tomato flavour as well.

Cheers!
 
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Yes, not all types of tomatoes will work but the only one's I've ever run across when making sauce were cherry and grape. But it's not like you're using only those as the base. IMPO, at least you shouldn't be. However, I have thrown those in the mix when their loosing their quality.

I really haven't found any tomato that doesn't work yet for the most part, it's Beefsteak, Campari, Heirloom, when making sauce. As far as heirloom tomatoes are concerned, I wouldn't use the variegated or purple varieties, and I haven't run across very many red pears or more appropriately known as San Marzano variety. My Grand Mother had these in her garden but those seeds disappeared 45 years ago. and I haven't found any in a grocery store since I was a kid and we shopped at Tom Naples in Melrose Park IL.

I tend to cook the Roma's and Beefsteak tomato's longer than the Campari or Heirloom. For example, my original post mentioned 12 hours, that would be for the prior and maybe 30-40 minutes at the very most for the latter. There is definitely a fresher taste and lighter consistency and this has it's place. Sometimes it's nice to have fresh and light not a long simmer sauce.

Also, the pasta plays a larger role for the lighter sauce since it's cooked more al dente. This leaves a little extra starch from the pasta when you toss it on the stove top. You just end up a minute or two longer in the pan. Also, as you toss it between the fork and spoon on the plate while eating (and yes, I most always use that technique when eating long noodles and never break them before cooking), the pasta absorbs even more of the water and you're left with the nice fresh tomato coating the pasta while you're eating. It also leaves a nice bit on the plate for sopping with bread at the end.
 
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^ Great point regarding the starch from pasta. Had not considered that. We have canned San Marzanos available here via a few local distributors, one of which actually imports directly from italy ($$$ but delicious)... For what its worth, I was always taught unless you are growing them yourself or have a good cheap source for tomatoes on the vine, canned tomatoes are almost as good flavour for less money. Unless you are really wild about the idea of making it with fresh tomatoes I would recommend finding some good quality canned product, shelf life can't be beat and they'll always taste quite fresh. Obviously not the same as fresh picked but I can think of many, in my mind, more appropriate uses for fresh tomatoes than to stew them for 3 hours on the stove top.
 
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