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Author Topic: When making any style of pizza, sour taste/tartness from canned tomatoes?  (Read 580 times)

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Offline 9slicePie

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Do you guys experience a slightly sour taste / tartness with all of the canned tomatoes you've used?  Is there a "solution" to this?  Please elaborate if possible.

I’m assuming it is citric acid that is causing the sourness/tartness/tanginess.  However, it doesn’t seem possible to find good quality canned tomatoes without citric acid.


Thanks.

Offline apizza

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I use Cento all purpose crushed tomatoes most of the time. They are easy to find and there are no added ingredients, only tomatoes.
Something to try if they are in your area.
Marty

Offline RHawthorne

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It's most likely from the added citric acid, but tomatoes already have some of that. I typically use tomatoes that don't have any of that stuff added, and it's not always easy to find them. As already mentioned, Cento AP crushed tomatoes don't have any added citric acid, and I think they're excellent. But my highest recommendation, if you can find them, is Mutti tomatoes. They're my favorites. Or just oven roast some fresh tomatoes and blend them up into a sauce with your preferred seasonings. That's a good option too, if you can find some good fresh tomatoes locally.
If we're not questioning the reason for our existence, then what the hell are we doing here?!

Offline 9slicePie

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Two questions:

1- Would adding a little bicarbonate to the sauce “counteract and negate” the citric acid? (I remember reading something like that several years ago).

2- If the answer to question 1 is “No” or anything negative, what remedy would you put forth without watering down the sauce?

Offline Papa T

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You know me, I can't write short stuff.

My personal experience has taught me that regardless of the brand, country of origin, or "official" certification of canned, peeled tomatoes, it will vary from can to can even within the same brand. When the tomatoes are planted during growing season, affects their flavor when harvested.

Growers can't plant thousands of acres of tomatoes and harvest and can them all at the same time. There is only so much canning capacity. They plant in stages and the harvest happens in stages. The amount of sunlight, length of sunlight, humidity, rainfall/irrigation, soil quality, and ambient temperature all affect flavor. As with any harvest of food, there is a peak time and off peak. The plants can still be grown, but it won't always taste the same as when planted and grown to peak at the best time of the season. A tomato farmer once told me that the ideal climate for growing tomatoes would be a desert with unlimited irrigation. I don't know anything about growing tomatoes, but he seemed to be doing alright.

Generally, early harvest and late harvest produces tomatoes that are not as sweet and tasty as those planted to harvest at the peak of the season. Some would call them less sweet which can seem also seem slightly bitter. Unless necessary, I buy canned tomatoes that to not have calcium chloride or citric acid in them. Calcium chloride is a firming agent that helps keep whole tomatoes whole during their canning, storage, shipping, and eventual sale to sit in our pantry. While calcium chloride has a neutral pH, when in a solution, such as tomato juice, it can become an acidic solution, which can lead to a more acid and bitter taste.

To me, calcium chloride can impart a off taste, and they don't state on the label how much of it is used. It won't be a lot, but there is leeway in the max allowed by government regulation. There are brands of whole peeled tomatoes without it, and they cost a few cents more, but to me it's worth it. Same goes for diced tomatoes, though i rarely use them. Regarding citric acid, it's generally used in food as a preservative, but it can also help offset any bitter tint that calcium chloride may contribute.

I generally do not buy any tomato products that have either calcium chloride or citric acid in them. Canned tomatoes are steamed to get the peels off, and that is at a high enough temperature and for long enough to destroy any pathogens during canning. There is no need for either of those additives, and I generally look at tomato products containing them as being inferior.

Nobody should ever see calcium chloride on the label of any tomatoes that are crushed, pureed, sauced, or turned into paste. It's not needed, so avoid those that do, imo. Regarding citric acid, it's most often used in very small quantities as a preservative, but can also offset some of the bitterness of calcium chloride when it is present. Again, you can find brands of tomatoes without either, and those are the brands that I buy.

Since the flavor and sweetness of tomatoes is affected by when it's harvested in the growing season, my Italian friends (and they have relatives in Italy), told me that it's okay to add a bit of sugar to canned, peeled tomatoes that don't quite have that sweet taste. They said they do it too when needed. Many will say that the early and late season harvest of canned tomatoes need a bit of sugar, and often do. It doesn't mean they always will need it, but don't feel bad about adding some. When you open a can, cut off a piece and let that taste be your guide. Use some sugar if needed. The bottom line is do the tomatoes taste good?

The tomatoes that are picked at the height of the growing season will generally be tasty and sweet. I don't track the growing season around the world, so I stick with brands that are consistent and then add a bit of sugar to the tomatoes when needed. I've never had to add more than 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar to any 28-35 ounce can of peeled tomatoes of a brand I like. Generally two or three teaspoons will do it. Using a full tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of sugar for a 28 ounce can of tomatoes works out to about 1.6% by weight, and 1.8 calories of added sugar per ounce of sauce.

Another thing I've learned is that you'll get more hits than misses by purchasing canned, peeled tomatoes, and tomato products in general, that are imported from Italy. They don't have to be DOP certified San Marzano to be great. There are many great tomato fields in Italy that grow excellent tomatoes that don't grow their crops in the "DOP certified" areas. That's okay. A good tomato is a good tomato. Generally I would pay $3.50 to $4.00 for a 28 ounce can of San Marzano DOP certified tomatoes, but can find excellent yet non-certified tomatoes grown in Italy that are also point, and generally for $2.39 to $2.99 a 28 ounce can.

There are good brands of canned tomatoes that are USA grown. Some of the USA tomato farms in the New Jersey area and Northern California grow excellent tomatoes. There are also some that suck from those areas, so again, find a brand you like and is consistent, whether USA or Italian grown, and don't feel bad about adding a tablespoon or less of sugar to bring them up to speed.

One more thing I learned is that generally crushed tomatoes will be more tasty and sweeter than canned peeled tomatoes. That's because the tomatoes that are very or overly ripe and would not work well for canning as whole tomatoes, work great for making crushed tomatoes.

Do you guys experience a slightly sour taste / tartness with all of the canned tomatoes you've used?  Is there a "solution" to this?  Please elaborate if possible.

I’m assuming it is citric acid that is causing the sourness/tartness/tanginess.  However, it doesn’t seem possible to find good quality canned tomatoes without citric acid.


Thanks.
Everything sounds better in latin.
Omnis pizza 'est bonum.
Every pizza is good.

Making good pizza is not that hard, unless we choose to make it that way.

The best pizza you'll ever make for someone is making the one they ask for instead of making it the way we think it should be made.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T


Offline Papa T

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The easy answer to both questions is to not use tomatoes that have calcium chloride or citric acid in them to start with. I find that canned tomatoes that don't have either generally taste more like tomato sweetness. Then add a bit of sugar if deemed necessary. Sugar is pH neutral, so it leave nothing behind but sweet, even if too much is used. Bicarb is naturally bitter.

Bicarb is alkaline and would of course neutralize acid. But we must ask how much to use? Bicarb on it's own is bitter, and while pH neutral water is created when it meets an acid, how much bicarb needs to be used, so that there isn't any left over bicarb to bitter things back up? Without accessing the acid level of the tomatoes, there's no way to know, and literally too many milligrams of bicarb left behind in the sauce can bring more harm than good. Bicarb is literally an extremely fine powder, and just a quarter teaspoon has a about 1100 milligrams of alkaline power and bitterness. Gauge the amount of bicarb to use incorrectly, and the sauce will be bitter regardless of its use.

Buy and use good stuff. Unless using gallons of tomatoes a day, the amount used at home its literally just a few cents per serving more to use quality ingredients. Same for things like pasta. Buy the stuff that costs 35 to 50 cents more a box, generally around $2.40, that is bronze cut and dried slowly, and it will just taste better than the $1.89 a box mass and fast produced stuff.


Two questions:

1- Would adding a little bicarbonate to the sauce “counteract and negate” the citric acid? (I remember reading something like that several years ago).

2- If the answer to question 1 is “No” or anything negative, what remedy would you put forth without watering down the sauce?
Everything sounds better in latin.
Omnis pizza 'est bonum.
Every pizza is good.

Making good pizza is not that hard, unless we choose to make it that way.

The best pizza you'll ever make for someone is making the one they ask for instead of making it the way we think it should be made.

Offline amolapizza

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FWIW, I also look for cans that are just tomato and juice with no additives.  I live in the hope that this means that they were harvested at their peak.  I used to buy Mutti San Marzano because it is available here, taste great, have no additives, and because it said San Marzano on the tin.  I was happy with them for several years.  Then I bough cans from several batches of the 2019 (IIRC) harvest and they were all really crappy, not worth the additional money, in fact not worth much at all.

This lead me to testing a lot of brands, I found some great from a discounter's home brand, but they weren't consistent, great on the first purchase and crappy on subsequent.  Finally I settled on the Mutti pelati which are quite easy for me to find on amazon, I buy 24 or 48 at a time and use this for pizza and everything else that calls for canned tomato.  Great taste and a price I can live with.  Again nothing but tomato and tomato juice, and just as good as the Mutti San Marzano when they were at their best.
Jack

Effeuno P134H (500C), Biscotto Fornace Saputo, Sunmix Sun6, Caputo Pizzeria, Caputo Saccorosso, Mutti Pelati.

Offline Pete-zza

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Tim (Papa T) makes some very good points.

As I read Tim’s comments, I remembered that many years ago, Steve, the owner of the forum, posted an article about how Stanislaus and Escalon processed tomatoes. The article that Steve cited was in 2004 so I can’t say that the two companies still use the same processing procedures. But I believe that the companies are still extremely organized in their efforts to produce products of very high quality. Steve’s post can be seen at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=605.msg5593#msg5593

Many years later, I called Stanislaus about some of their products but what I found especially interesting was how they added basil to their canned tomatoes. What I was told can be seen toward the end of Reply 726 at:

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=21559.msg227471;topicseen#msg227471

Peter

Offline Papa T

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I too find Mutti pelati a consistently reliable brand. An Italian friend once told me that all DOP certified San Marzano tomatoes are pelati, but not all pelati tomatoes are San Marzano. A peeled tomato (pelati) doesn't have to be San Marzano certified to be great, and many brands are and less expensive. Not only the Mutti brand of pelati tomaotes, but many others from Italy and some from the USA.

Like you, I have found that over time, DOP certified San Marzano tomatoes have fallen in taste and quality. From what I've read, after Italian extra virgin olive oil, "certified" San Marzano tomatoes are the most counterfeit products on the market by organized crime. This could explain why the perceived quality has degraded over time, because it has. Many of the certified San Marzano tomatoes are counterfeit.

Finally I settled on the Mutti pelati which are quite easy for me to find on amazon, I buy 24 or 48 at a time and use this for pizza and everything else that calls for canned tomato.  Great taste and a price I can live with.  Again nothing but tomato and tomato juice, and just as good as the Mutti San Marzano when they were at their best.
Everything sounds better in latin.
Omnis pizza 'est bonum.
Every pizza is good.

Making good pizza is not that hard, unless we choose to make it that way.

The best pizza you'll ever make for someone is making the one they ask for instead of making it the way we think it should be made.

Offline amolapizza

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I looked at my notes, it was the 2018 vintage of Mutti San Marzano that was much worse than the 2017 vintage.  It was like a completely different product in all aspects, with many tins even containing green leaf matter.  IIRC I tried buying them 3 times (different lots) and all were bad.  But yes I suppose it's possible that the supermarket here had gotten their hands on counterfeit merchandise.  I can't imagine that Mutti would sell such a bad quality, especially for a product that must be their most expensive canned tomato.

But no matter, now I have the Mutti pelati which are just as good and a lot cheaper! I just hope that I won't have a nasty surprise again! :D
Jack

Effeuno P134H (500C), Biscotto Fornace Saputo, Sunmix Sun6, Caputo Pizzeria, Caputo Saccorosso, Mutti Pelati.

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Offline 9slicePie

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I find Mutti to be expensive.  A small can (you know those cans that are 1 size smaller than the usual 28-ounce cans?) is basically the same price as those 28-ounce cans.

Offline amolapizza

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I agree that it's expensive, but for me the cost increase per pizza is insignificant compared to taste..

If I'm going to put so much effort into cooking something (not that it's all that much effort, but rather a lot of passion), then I want good quality ingredients.. :)
Jack

Effeuno P134H (500C), Biscotto Fornace Saputo, Sunmix Sun6, Caputo Pizzeria, Caputo Saccorosso, Mutti Pelati.

Offline 9slicePie

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I agree that it's expensive, but for me the cost increase per pizza is insignificant compared to taste..

If I'm going to put so much effort into cooking something (not that it's all that much effort, but rather a lot of passion), then I want good quality ingredients.. :)
You know what,  ^^^

Offline RHawthorne

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I find Mutti to be expensive.  A small can (you know those cans that are 1 size smaller than the usual 28-ounce cans?) is basically the same price as those 28-ounce cans.
I don't know where you're buying yours, but a 28 oz. can has never cost me more than $4 at the World Market in my town. Other brands might sell for more like $3, but for the difference in quality, I don't even give it a second thought.
If we're not questioning the reason for our existence, then what the hell are we doing here?!

Offline foreplease

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Keep in mind that salt is a by-product of neutralizing an acid with a base. It may be an insignificant amount (I don’t know) but I would taste for it before adding salt if I were to use that method.


I agree with Peter: good info from Papa T.
-Tony

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Offline 9slicePie

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What about calcium hydroxide? (Not calcium carbonate)

One person on the internet had the following opinions about its use in raising the pH of his tomato sauces:
« Last Edit: August 08, 2021, 01:40:03 AM by 9slicePie »

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