Cooking Tips for Getting Rid of the Tomato Taste in Pasta Sauce

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Tomatoes are naturally acidic, but too much acid ruins the taste of pasta sauce.
Tomatoes are naturally acidic, but too much acid ruins the taste of pasta sauce. (Image: tomato #2 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com)

All tomatoes are acidic, and can give tomato-based pasta sauces a tomato-heavy flavor that tastes harsh and intense. If you suffer from acid reflux or indigestion, the extra acid may cause you to avoid tomato-based pasta sauce completely. You can take steps to neutralize the tomatoes’ acid and to cover the sometimes bitter taste.

Sugar and Spice

Many pasta sauce recipes recommend adding two or more teaspoons of sugar to your sauce to cut the acidic tomato taste. Don’t add the sugar when you’re combining the other ingredients. Wait until the sauce has cooked down and then add the sweetening agent. If you’re using sauce from a can, heat the sauce over the stove and add the sugar once the sauce is bubbling. You could try a variety of sweeteners to get the desired effect, such as brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. According to the East Bay Food Not Bombs web site, you could add a pinch of cinnamon to “take the edge off of tomato dishes.” A quarter-teaspoon of baking soda is also sometimes used.

Fruits and Veggies

The Kansas City Star published an article about chef’s secrets, and in the article culinary arts chairwoman Maureen Pothier shared her secret for cutting the acid tomato taste in her tomato pasta sauce: prunes. Her recipe for “Surprise Pasta Sauce” makes eight servings of “secret ingredient” sauce that includes up to 10 chopped prunes. Add the prunes to your saucepan at the same time you add your tomatoes. Another article, this one posted at the FireHOW web site, recommends cooking your pasta sauce with a whole freshly peeled carrot inside the saucepan while your sauce is simmering. Before serving your sauce, remove the carrot. According to the author of the FireHOW article, the peeled carrot adds a small amount of sweetness and absorbs excess acid.

Other Flavor Elements

You ccan cover up the tomato taste and its acidic flavor by adding heavy cream or whole milk to neutralize the acids and create a thicker sauce. Ggrated cheeses also work well and will take centerstage in the flavor department and overpower much of the taste of the tomatoes. Use extra oils such as flavored or extra virgin olive oils, or add butter to cover up an overwhelming tomato taste.

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