Author Topic: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes  (Read 6729 times)

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Offline Jackie Tran

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How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« on: December 29, 2010, 05:04:57 PM »
The problem with store bought tomatoes is that they either lack a great tomato taste or they are often not sweet.  This stems from them being picked prematurely and not ripening on the vine.  The postive thing about store bought tomatoes is that they do provide that "fresh" taste that is lacking in canned tomato products.   

So to make a great base sauce we start off with "fresh" store bought tomatoes and will add to them a good tomato paste and sweetner.   You can use any type of tomatoes for this sauce.  I start by washing them, cutting the tops off, and dividing into 2-3 pieces.  They go into a bowl and are covered & microwaved for about 2-3m depending on how many tomatoes I'm using. 

The reason I par cook them like this that it boosts the flavor and helps the skins slide right off.  You can also broil them in the oven as well.  I don't like boiling them b/c I feel that I lose some of the juice and I also don't want the tomatoes to get water logged. 

After the tomatoes come out of the microwave and the skins are removed, I immediately add a bit of dice fresh garlic.  The heat from the tomatoes will cook the garlic a bit and take out that bite you get with fresh garlic.   I only use just a tiny bit for flavor. 

I then use a stick blender to pulse blend the par cooked tomatoes to get the proper chunkiness.  You don't want to overblend as this will whip air into the sauce and make it frothy.   I do not strain or drain away the excess water.  IMO this has lots of "fresh" flavor in it and there's no sense in dumping that. 

« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 05:19:35 PM by Jackie Tran »


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 05:09:46 PM »
To get the sauce back to it's proper consistency, I will add a tablespoon or two of a good tomato sauce/paste.  I like to use Stanilaus Saporito or Super Dolce.  6 n 1's or any other good tomato product will do.  This step replaces the strong tomato flavor that the store bought tomatoes lack.   

If the consistency is too thick, then I'll add a bit of water back in.   The idea is to use more fresh tomatoes than paste.   Next I'll add a packet or 2 (depends on how much sauce and how sweet I want it) of natural stevia sweetener to the sauce to sweetened it up.  I'll also add a bit of sea salt to balance the sauce out. 

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2010, 05:14:15 PM »
At this point you'll have a sauce that is sweet, tomatoey, and fresh tasting.   I also like to add a bit of ganji dante oregano, and some fresh basil as well.   This is my typical NP sauce.   

This sauce makes a great base sauce.  You can dress the sauce up or down anyway you like it.   
For a NY style sauce, I'll add more salt, pepper, a bit of cayenne, bit of onion powder, a bit thyme, and a bit of EVOO. 

Enjoy,
Chau
« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 05:16:27 PM by Jackie Tran »

Offline chickenparm

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2010, 09:49:29 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to post all that Chau! That sauce looks great! Can you tell me where one can find that Ganji Dante Oregano?I have never seen those in a store before.
 :)



-Bill

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2010, 10:28:35 PM »
Thanks for taking the time to post all that Chau! That sauce looks great! Can you tell me where one can find that Ganji Dante Oregano?I have never seen those in a store before.
 :)


Bill I got it from member Thezaman.  You can PM him and see if he will send you some.   Well worth the small price. 

Chau

Offline chickenparm

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2010, 11:40:15 PM »
Thanks Chau,I will see if he can help out.

Also,your post got me thinking...we have ALOT of Amish Farmers around here,that sell the best tomatoes I have ever eaten as far as locally grown goes.I have never made a sauce from it,but I will give them a try.Their tomatoes taste alot better than the local supermarkets produce department.They are usually larger,brighter and sweeter than anything else I can find.

That said,when you microwave the tomatoes,do you ever add any water to the bowl or just cook as is?
No steaming effect required?

Thanks!
 :)




-Bill

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 12:07:56 AM »
No water is added.  Cover the bowl with a plate to steam them in their own moisture and just 2-3m is sufficient.  Don't want to cook them too much.  I bet those farmer's tomatoes would be great.  You may not need to add the paste or very little of it. 

Chau

Offline petef

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2010, 01:22:15 AM »
At this point you'll have a sauce that is sweet, tomatoey, and fresh tasting.   I also like to add a bit of ganji dante oregano, and some fresh basil as well.   This is my typical NP sauce.   

Great post Jackie!

I would like to add, at this point in your recipe, I believe that each person must sharpen their skills and ability to taste and adjust certain ingredients as necessary to compensate for natural variations in acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes. For example, my target taste for pizza sauce is more to the acidic side with just a touch of sweetness. So I'd begin by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar, taste it, and then add more vinegar per taste, and then my sweetener slowly in very small amounts to take just a bit of the edge off of that acidic taste.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's very difficult to impossible to come up with a precise fresh tomato pizza sauce recipe due to the variations in acidity & sweetness of the tomatoes. The salt, oregano, and basil can probably be precise, but the amounts of sweetener and/or vinegar need to be adjusted by taste.

The same applies to canned tomato pizza sauce recipes too, but perhaps to a lesser degree if the quality control is held very tight to produce a tomato product with consistent amounts of acidity and sweetness.

This raises a few new questions...
Is it possible to use a garden PH meter to measure the acidity of a pizza sauce?
If so, would adding sugar change the PH level?
Is there any way to use a meter or other scientific means to measure the sweetness of a sauce?

---pete---




« Last Edit: December 30, 2010, 01:25:39 AM by petef »

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2010, 02:54:15 AM »
chau that second to last picture looks like you added some reefer to your sauce  :angel:
Hotdogs kill more people than sharks do, yearly.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2010, 08:24:20 AM »
chau that second to last picture looks like you added some reefer to your sauce  :angel:

Dang, so that's why my pizzas have been tasting so good lately.  :-D


Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2010, 04:00:34 PM »
Great post Jackie!

I would like to add, at this point in your recipe, I believe that each person must sharpen their skills and ability to taste and adjust certain ingredients as necessary to compensate for natural variations in acidity and sweetness of the tomatoes. For example, my target taste for pizza sauce is more to the acidic side with just a touch of sweetness. So I'd begin by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar, taste it, and then add more vinegar per taste, and then my sweetener slowly in very small amounts to take just a bit of the edge off of that acidic taste.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's very difficult to impossible to come up with a precise fresh tomato pizza sauce recipe due to the variations in acidity & sweetness of the tomatoes. The salt, oregano, and basil can probably be precise, but the amounts of sweetener and/or vinegar need to be adjusted by taste.

The same applies to canned tomato pizza sauce recipes too, but perhaps to a lesser degree if the quality control is held very tight to produce a tomato product with consistent amounts of acidity and sweetness.

This raises a few new questions...
Is it possible to use a garden PH meter to measure the acidity of a pizza sauce?
If so, would adding sugar change the PH level?
Is there any way to use a meter or other scientific means to measure the sweetness of a sauce?

---pete---


Thanks Pete.  Good point about adjusting it to the user's taste.   For my taste, I usually find that the tomatoes themselves have enough of the natural acids and I tend to lean more towards a sweet sauce so I don't add vinegar but definitely if it suits the users taste.  Thank you for the suggestion.

Chau

Offline petef

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2010, 09:37:35 PM »
Thanks Pete.  Good point about adjusting it to the user's taste.   For my taste, I usually find that the tomatoes themselves have enough of the natural acids and I tend to lean more towards a sweet sauce so I don't add vinegar but definitely if it suits the users taste.  Thank you for the suggestion.

Chau, your post really got me thinking about how difficult it is to communicate to others the taste of a pizza sauce for varying degrees of sweetness and acidity. I'm thinking in terms of taking a scientific approach where we come up with a basic sauce recipe, measure the PH/Acidity and adjust the ingredients accordingly for a target taste. I've never seen this done here on pizza making.com and was wondering what your thoughts are on taking this kind of approach.

In other words, we start with a basic pizza sauce recipe using either fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. Measure the acidity level using a meter or litmus paper and add ingredients to obtain a certain level of acidity. This might help to get us all on the same page when we are talking about the taste of our recipes.
What you think?

---pete---



Offline Tscarborough

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2010, 10:22:41 PM »
Anyone have a spectrograph?  It is a blend of acidity, sweetness, saltiness, and savory.  No real way to objectify it, and if you figure out how to do so, you will be a gazillionaire.

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2010, 10:57:31 PM »
Chau, your post really got me thinking about how difficult it is to communicate to others the taste of a pizza sauce for varying degrees of sweetness and acidity. I'm thinking in terms of taking a scientific approach where we come up with a basic sauce recipe, measure the PH/Acidity and adjust the ingredients accordingly for a target taste. I've never seen this done here on pizza making.com and was wondering what your thoughts are on taking this kind of approach.

In other words, we start with a basic pizza sauce recipe using either fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. Measure the acidity level using a meter or litmus paper and add ingredients to obtain a certain level of acidity. This might help to get us all on the same page when we are talking about the taste of our recipes.
What you think?

---pete---

Pete, I think your idea is a good idea for standardizing a base sauce but I also honestly think we wouldn't get much of an audience.   I could be wrong, but I think there aren't enough members motivated enough to go through the effort of acquiring the tools necessary to scientifically measure the pH of sauce and to discuss it on that level.   I think there would be a select and small group that would be interested in that.   But it's still worthy of the effort no less, and it may be as simple as using pH strips.  I have some ready here at my house and can try to take pH measurements next time I make sauce just for curiosity sake.

If anyone else has pH strips available and wish to post up their results for comparison, that would be appreciated.  

Also b/c ppl's taste are so varied, I'm not sure how useful this tidbit of info would be.  But sorry to sound like a negative nancy.  

Chau

Offline petef

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2010, 02:38:35 AM »
If anyone else has pH strips available and wish to post up their results for comparison, that would be appreciated. 

I was just researching "kitchen PH meters" and to my surprise it's a common item costing between $30 and $130. However, from what I'm reading about the meters, they can be problematic and many cooks simply use test strips. I just happen to have some test strips that I ordered a while back to test the acidity of saliva. What I'm not quite sure is the typical PH range of  pizza sauce that we need to measure.

160 Test Strips for about $12
http://www.amazon.com/Phinex-Diagnostic-Results-Seconds-Balance/dp/B003PDB79W/?tag=pizzamaking-20

So Chau, I hear you about the small number of people that would be prepared to test PH of their sauce, but if a small number of us can experiment with PH testing and discover a practical use for making a consistent pizza sauce recipe, then others may follow.

Next time I make a pizza sauce I'll begin my testing of PH and post my results if the test strips I now have are in the range needed.

---pete---

Offline petef

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2010, 02:53:03 AM »
Also b/c ppl's taste are so varied, I'm not sure how useful this tidbit of info would be.  But sorry to sound like a negative nancy.  

Again, I hear you, but consider this. One person may test their favorite pizza sauce @ PH 4  and another person may prefer a PH of 9 or higher, but at least we'd finally have a way to accurately describe the varying degrees of acidic taste.

I feel that this is such an important issue because it took me so many years to learn that the missing ingredient in my sauce was vinegar and a simple PH test may have told the story and led me to the solution much sooner.

---pete---



Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2010, 06:24:14 AM »
Again, I hear you, but consider this. One person may test their favorite pizza sauce @ PH 4  and another person may prefer a PH of 9 or higher, but at least we'd finally have a way to accurately describe the varying degrees of acidic taste.

I feel that this is such an important issue because it took me so many years to learn that the missing ingredient in my sauce was vinegar and a simple PH test may have told the story and led me to the solution much sooner.

---pete---


Agreed.  I'm always open to learning something new no matter how wild it may sound.  I'll start checking the pH of my sauces before and after spicing.  I actually like the idea of this experiment Pete.

One question though, would the pH actually change if I don't use vinegar and just sweetened the sauce with just stevia or sugar?

Chau

Offline PizzaHog

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2010, 09:17:35 AM »
In case this helps you mad scientist types, the pH of sugar is considered to be neutral (7) so one would think it would not affect the pH level.  A hydrometer (aka sugar density meter or syrup desity meter in cooking applications) can measure sugar levels in liquids and is standard equipment for home brewers and wine makers, candy and pastry chefs, and inexpensive.  As this device works by bouyancy and actually measures the relative density of a liquid it would take some gyrations to use it with a sauce (no chunks, no air whipped in, etc) and how accurate the measurements would be is in question.  Hydrometers are used in making sorbets though, which as pureed fruit in a semi thick liquid, sounds a lot like pizza sauce so who knows.  If nothing else it might prove to be accurate enough for some comparitive experiments.
I have read about vinegar in sauce before but keep forgetting to try it so thanks for the reminder and ideas.  Although it is not nearly as convenient a method, roasting off tomatoes is another way to concentrate their flavor and remove the skins that Norma brought to my attention.
Good luck on the experiments if you continue and looking forward to the results.

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2010, 10:56:58 AM »
I tend to agree with petef on this matter. Some time ago, Norma started to take the pH values of several of her pizza doughs. When she started having problems with crust coloration (crusts too light), I examined the pH values she had posted and detected what I thought was a trend to lower pH values for her naturally-leavened doughs. I discussed this matter at Reply 189 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,12173.msg119874/topicseen.html#msg119874. Norma is now in the process of making some changes to her naturally-leavened doughs to see if the coloration problem can be solved. I cite the above only to make the point that it might be worth looking at the pH values of sauces. Maybe nothing of value will come from it, but if one has a way of measuring pH values of sauces it shouldn't be a major undertaking to take a few readings. If nothing else, I think we will learn something from the exercise, just as Norma and I learned from her pH dough readings.

Peter

Online norma427

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Re: How to make a great sauce with store bought tomatoes
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2010, 12:38:30 PM »
Chau, petef. and anyone else that is interested,

If you want me to go along on your experiments with tomato sauces let me know.  I do have a pH meter.  I would be glad to help.

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!