tomato sauce acidity

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by surfcast, Mar 21, 2019.

  1. surfcast

    surfcast

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    When making tomato sauce, how could you eliminate acidity ? I have heard about adding vinegar,
    which I don't believe . That sounds like adding more acidity , also some say minute amounts of
    sugar brown or white . Any Ideas would be great .
    Also how can you thicken sauce, out side of reduction ?
     
  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Adding vinegar is, indeed, adding acidity.

    Sugar masks and tames the acidity but I’m not sure if it really changes the PH measurement.

    Adding the opposite of acid, a base, like baking soda would lower the PH... but might taste awful.

    Thickening... I suppose any starch thickener or a gum (xanthan, guar, etc) could be used but I’ll bet there’s a reason why that isn’t the traditional technique.
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Sugar or beef stock will do the trick.
     
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  4. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    I heard years ago~ 'If you have to add sugar to your tomato sauce you need better tomato sauce'.
    I love my San Marzano canned tomatoes for that reason.
     
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  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    For the most part this is true. Maybe try a different tomato sauce.

    At the end of the tomato season, when they have bushels of tomatoes at the farmers market just ready to go over, I make sure to buy a bunch and run it through the food mill and freeze them in gallon bags. I only need to do this every other year, but, they do lose a little something in the freezer. Maybe once a year is better. :)
     
  6. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Acidity is a function of the tomato variety and ripeness. Some varieties are more acidic than others. More ripe = less acidic.
     
  7. halb

    halb

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    I use them also but find that there is a variation in acidity, probably due to when they were grown. So usually (sometimes not) I have to add sugar and the amount depends on tasting.
     
  8. Transglutaminase

    Transglutaminase

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    My opinion: if it's a bit bitter, always add a pinch of sugar (go slowly!) ..& perhaps a small piece of "Aurora" Italian chicken stock cube
     
  9. surfcast

    surfcast

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    Does cooking the sauce longer help reduce acid ?
     
  10. halb

    halb

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    I've not found that to be true. It will reduce (thicken) it though.
     
  11. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Too acidic - add a base. A pinch of baking soda can cut the acidity nicely and will not color the flavor of the sauce unless you use too much. But, the metallic taste of the acidity may still be left over. However, if your tomato sauce is too acidic, the real solution is to use better tomatoes.

    While San Marzanos are indeed the best, IMO, true San Marzano tomatoes are about as easy to find in the US as true Kobe beef. Those "San Marzano" tomatoes in the grocery store that sell for $3.89 a can are not real San Marzano tomatoes. For starters, a real can of San Marzanos cost upwards of $10-$15 per 28oz can. Secondly, they are only available in the US through a very small handful of Italian importers located mainly in New York and Chicago. There is one, I believe, in New Orleans and another in Dallas. But, I think the one in Dallas went out of business a few years ago.

    If anyone wants to know how to identify true San Marzano tomatoes, PM me and I will give you the information.

    Another myth is that cooking tomatoes for hours will eliminate acidity. This is not true. In fact, cooked tomatoes are more acidic than raw tomatoes. Therefore, cooking them for hours will actually cause the sauce to become even more acidic. Tomato sauce should not be cooked for more than 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the volume of sauce (Sorry, Nonna. Your sauce is still the best! Requiescet in pace. :) )

    If your tomatoes are not the greatest quality or are less then perfectly ripe, remove the seeds. The seeds are very acidic and removing them will help quite a bit in reducing the acidity levels.

    Last but, not least, add butter. While butter is neutral and technically does not raise the Ph of the sauce, it can "smooth over" the acidity, so to speak. When I make sauce in the winter and fresh, ripe tomatoes are hard to come by, I use a pinch or two of baking soda and a stick of butter.

    Good luck. :)
     
  12. fatcook

    fatcook

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    We use a chopped up carrot instead of sugar.
     
  13. halb

    halb

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    We have been using canned San Marzano tomatoes from RD. Each can has a serial number, seals and the crop year and location. We pay about $36 for a case of 6 2550g cans.

    Lately I have been playing with adding butter. I know many chefs add carrots also.
     
  14. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Butter coats the tongue but doesn’t affect the acidity by reducing pH. It makes for a smooth tongue feel and masks any harshness or acidity. Conant and Hazan advocate that approach. It’s good, but too much is not. Must be done with restraint.

    Carrot, like onion, add some sweetness. It’s a good approach to balancing too.

    I’ve found the “San Marzano from NJ” to be generally pretty good. NJ -New Jersey - grows some great tomato’s! But where the heck is “RD”?
     
  15. surfcast

    surfcast

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    I thought butter, was acidic as well ?
     
  16. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    All dairy is on the acidic side of the scale, but the butterfat coats the tongue somewhat, helping to mask the acidity. As said above, it doesn't lower the acidity (raise the ph) but it changes the flavor profile to help smooth that acidity out.
     
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  17. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    This is an interesting part of the discussion, even if it’s a side note! No, butter isn’t acidic. It measures neutral. That’s a myth. Some dairy, maybe even most, is ever so slightly acidic. Butter and ghee, which I believe is ever so slightly alkaline, are exceptions.

    pH paper is easy to get and easy to use to do a litmus test. One can learn a lot from doing in additional to discussing. It help one get beyond “Is X this or that” and answers the question of “how much this or that is X”.

    Personally... if I were cooking tomato Sauce to be sensitive to GERD, etc... I’d probably measure the tomato sauce and if too acidic, correct with tiny amounts of alkaline (baking soda) to bring the acidity down. Masking it will still lead to GERD. If the full amount of soda is consumed when neutralizing the acid it probably won’t leave a noticeable taste. Just like in a cookie or quick bread.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
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  18. fatcook

    fatcook

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    I am assuming Restaurant Depot?

    We use local tomatoes - we are lucky in that our area is known for good tomatoes (it's all about the soil) and we have relationships with several local farmers.
     
  19. halb

    halb

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    You mean what the heck. Restaurant Depot.
     
  20. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Pete is right. Butter weighs in on the PH scale around 6.5; technically acidic, but, close enough to neutral that its not going to make a measurable difference in the overall acidity of the sauce.

    Now, about those San Marzano tomatoes.......

    Here's are some San Marzano fun facts that most people, not even many pros, know about.

    According to the President of the "Consozio San Marzano", which is like the "Vatican" of San Marzano tomatoes, only 5% of the tomatoes sold in the US as "San Marzano" tomatoes are true San Marzano tomatoes grown in the Valley of Sarno outside of Naples. The rest are fake, even the ones that have the D.O.P. seal on the label. Why? Because Italian growers will ship the "non-San Marzano" tomatoes to the US where they are canned and labeled. Since there are no US laws that restrict a US cannery from placing a D.O.P. seal on the label coupled with the fact that the D.O.P. does not have jurisdiction in the US, all fake San Marzano tomatoes sold in the US are going to have the D.O.P. seal. So, the presence of the D.O.P. seal alone cannot be trusted. However, that is not to say that all San Marzano's sold in the US are fake.

    Here is how you can tell a fake can from a real can of San Marzano tomatoes. Take note that identifying a true can of San Marzano tomatoes is just as much about what is on the label as what is not on the label.

    A true can of San Marzano tomatoes will ALWAYS have the following on the label or these characteristics:

    - The words “Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino” will always appear on the label.
    - A D.O.P. seal
    - A "Conzorzio San Marzano" seal with a certification number written as "N°-xxxxxxx". The certification number is unique to that tin and it can be used to authenticate the product as true San Marzano tomatoes.
    - For Cento San Marzano tomatoes only: a 4 digit number will appear on the label in addition to the above criteria that tells the date and location the tomatoes were canned. The 4 digit number can be used to verify the can as authentic on the Cento or Consorzio San Marzano websites.
    - A can of true San Marzano tomatoes is always 28oz. Never more. Never less.
    - San Marzano's are always sold as "whole, peeled" or as fillets. Never anything else.
    - Each can will contain one basil leaf.
    - A 28oz can of true San Marzano's will sell for around $10 to $15 in the US, sometimes more. So, if it's too good to be true, there's a near 100% chance that it is.
    - True San Marzano tomatoes are only available through a small number of Italian importers and restaurant suppliers.

    Here are features that are never associated with a can of true San Marzano tomatoes.

    - The words "organic" or "sauce" never appear on the label.
    - Never diced, chopped, pureed or crushed.
    - Never stewed or flavored.
    - True San Marzano's are never sold in grocery stores or food clubs.
    - Any missing features listed above.

    The reality is that getting your hands on a true can of San Marzano tomatoes in the US is about as easy as getting true Kobe beef (well, maybe not that hard, but you get the point :) ). While its possible, its very, very unlikely. However, this is not to say that the tomatoes sold as "San Marzano's" are not good. Its just that they are not as good, much like Wagyu Cattle grown in Texas. The bitter truth is that most people who think they are getting true San Marzano's are merely overpaying for just regular tomatoes.

    I think Cento San Marzano tomatoes that sell for $3.89 a can in the grocery store are pretty darn good, if you ask me.

    Thanks for reading. :)

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019