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Oct 2, 2004 10:43 PM

Baking Soda to Reduce Acidity of Tomato Sauce

  • f

Has anyone used baking soda to reduce the acidity of tomatoes in either tomato sauce or tomato soup?

What was the outcome, and what proportions do you recommend?

TIA :)

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  1. I've never tried it. I recommend a small amount of sugar – to balance the acidity rather than reduce it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GG Mora

      I agree. It's better to balance it with sweetness than to remove the acidity. I've grown tomatoes for a number of years. Some are acidic, some are sweet, but the best ones have a good balance between them.

    2. That's interesting, although I've never tried it. It would make sense to actually change the pH of the dish with baking soda. I don't have anything to add, but I hope that someone does.

      1. I've heard that in Italy, they use certain mineral waters rather than tap water to acheive the same objective, but I wouldn't know the chemical compostions of each , maybe the label would tell you?

        5 Replies
        1. re: coll

          If the mineral water you're talking about is the fizzy kind, the net effect would be adding acidity. The carbon dioxide (present as bubbles) forms carbonic acid in the water. Of course heating it would raise the pH again by driving off the CO2 but it wouldn't be raised enough to lessen the acidity of tomato sauce. There are different types of mineral water, some of which are both noncarbonated and alkaline, and that might work to reduce acidity but it seems you'd have to add a whole lot of water to your sauce to have a dramatic effect.

          I've tried adding baking soda to tomato sauce and have regretted ruining a pot of sauce both times I did it. (Fool me twice...) The baking soda didn't just neutralize the acid, it seemed to erase all the flavor as well. If you're trying to lessen the taste of the acid, I'd go with adding sugar as other posters have suggested. If you're trying to avoid heartburn, just enjoy your meal and get the Rolaids ready.

          1. re: Jenny

            The fizzy kind isn't actually mineral water. It's just seltzer or soda water mislabeled. True mineral water typically comes in large glass bottles that are bottle on site at a very deep ground spring - which is quite full of natural minerals. Drinking true mineral water, there is natural carbonation, but an incredibly small amount, and the mineral taste is very apparent, although pleasant. I used to buy it often, and love it!

            Adding sugar can balance it, but a balance isn't a fix, it's just adding more. Baking soda will work - starting at 1tbsp and going up from there. However the mineral water trick is very intriguing and has potential for great success. The reason it can be very successful is that pasta sauce is nothing more than tomato paste, water, and spices - sometimes also beef or chicken stock. I used to make about 20 gallons daily at a restaurant, so trust me on this one. This means that to neutralize the acids, simply use mineral water with the tomato paste! The minerals may accentuate the flavor of some spices as well!

            1. re: Jenny

              Yes I "just ruined a wonderful huge pot of homemade sauce made from fresh tomatoes from my garden. I did use this once before (a pinch) it worked, this time, becauce it was a "larger pot" I used maybe a tablespoon...Thing went crazy(bubbled) after 15 minutes it settled down, but "guess what? Took ALL the flavor out of my sauce I'd been simmering to perfection for 4 hours beforehand...Ruined the flavor of the Italian sausage and pork pieces and meatballs...Lots of time and money "gone"...Never again...I'll stick to my friends grand mothers "secret" of putting a whole quartered raw potatoe" in the sauce...I used that for years...By the way, sagur "doesn't always help. ", adds sweetness, but doesn't totally get rid of the acidity taste of the tomatoe. It isn't about "heartburn", its about "flavor". So, today, I start over as I was craving "gfnocchi" Yum...But, as good cooks know, "it's all about the sauce(gravy, as they say in New York)

              1. re: christine51

                Oh God- I'm so sorry for your horrible experience. It sounds like it was going to be so good!

            2. re: coll

              Hey guys, 10 years later! I think I meant that the tap water in Italy has a lot more minerals than we have here. I wasn't thinking bottled water there, just that maybe you could use a bottled one here.

              Glad I finally got that off my chest ;-)

            3. I've done this, a little trade secret I learned from my aunt-in-law in Italy. I use the tiniest pinch, and then taste. You don't want to remove all the acid. I also use a little tiny pinch of sugar, or I add a raisin or two to the sauce while it's cooking for sweetness.

              1. When I was visiting my mother a month ago, I was scanning her old copy of Simca's Cuisine by the legendary Simone Beck. The book is full of trucs (kitchen tricks) of Simca, including the suggestion to use granulated instant coffee to reduce the acidity of tomato and other acid fruit sauces.