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Salvaging tinny tomato sauce?

A friend has a goodly amount of homemade tomato sauce, that has turned out very tinny-tasting. The tomatoes were, not surprisingly, canned. Also included were sauteed onions, mild sausages, oregano, basil, sundried tomatoes, bay leaf, worcestershire, and white wine, plus good olive oil. Many hours in the slow-cooker. To my tastebuds, the sauce is both tinny and bland. While pleasantly herbed, the tomatoes have no richness, despite the nice texture. Are there any tips to salvaging this stuff? Thanks in advanced.

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  1. Do you have a trashcan or disposal?

    "Thanks, Jane, you sure have a way with sauce - now we have all we need for years, just years!"

    1. Even the esteemed Marcella uses canned tomatoes so don't look there.
      Might be that the alcohol from the wine, especially if she was heavy handed, didn't cook off in the slow cooker. It didn't reach a high enough heat to vaporize the alcohol. The raw alcohol might be what you're tasting. Try simmering some of the sauce stovetop for awhile to mellow the sauce. Even the old dash of sugar trick might help.
      For the blandness, give it a little salt before you give up. A dash of Tabasco rarely hurts.

      1. Many hours in the cooker would probably have removed the alcohol...could be an inferior brand of tomatoes...they vary greatly form packer to packer...

        1 Reply
        1. re: nyfoodjoe

          It would depend on the heat of the slow cooker. A lot of them maintain a heat level just below a simmer.
          The following is from the US Department of Agriculture:
          "Different cooking methods burn off alcohol differently. Listed are the percentages retained in different preparations:
          - Alcohol added to boiling liquid and removed from heat: 85 percent
          - No heat, stored overnight: 70 percent
          - Baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture: 45 percent
          Baked/simmered dishes with alcohol stirred into mixture, by cooking time:
          - 15 minutes: 40 percent
          - 30 minutes: 35 percent
          - 1 hour: 25 percent
          - 1.5 hours: 20 percent
          - 2 hours: 10 percent
          - 2.5 hours cooking time 5 percent"

          Obviously, the temperatures for boiling, baking, etc. wouldn't apply to a slow cooker. Time alone wouldn't make a difference if the alcohol never reaches a temperature where it volatizes.

          Using too much wine would also make the sauce taste overly acid even if the alcohol cooked off.

        2. If an aluminum pot were used to simmer the sauce it would alter the taste. This is not reversable if its the case and not very healthy. Stainless steel when working with acidic products.

          1. A wild but considered guess--but only if the present flavor is not hopelessly tinny: add a quarter bottle of red wine that has been reduced to thick syrup, cubed eggplant, Italian dried mushrooms, a few more sun dried tomatoes, and rough ground black pepper. Simmer until the new ingredients are integrated.

            The basil, oregano, canned tomatoes, and particular white wine may have mounted a tinny attack.

            1. Would be tough to remedy the tinniness. I swear by Pomi tomatoes in a tetrapack for that very reason. Sometimes the "tinniness" is just too much citric acid. If you really want to give a rescue a try, the one suggestion I would make is to purée a good quantity of sundried tomatoes (either oil-packed, or well-soaked dried) and add the purée to the sauce. . The intensity and sweetness might help. A few hot pepper flakes might also remedy the blandness.

              Let us know how you make out.

              1. Cook it down some more in a non-reactive saucepan and add a few pureed anchovies; their flavor will add a savory undertone that can rescue all sorts of flat-tasting things.

                  1. Good quality canned tomatoes make lovely sauce.

                    IMO the problem was probably cooking it in a closed crockpot. It did not reduce enough.

                    I'd do exactly as Hungry Celeste suggests above -- cook it down and add some umami in the form of anchovies or parmesan cheese. I'd also add some tomato paste. And I assume that there was salt added to it even if you didn't say so. If not, for goshsakes add some.

                    1. When you cook it down, add a thick strip or two of fresh lemon peel. It will brighten up the sauce.

                      1. a healthy tablespoon of sugar and some good red wine. A little red chili flake if she can handle it. Also, a head of roasted garlic should douse the "tinny" taste.

                        1. Don't know whether it's too late for YOUR sauce this time, but next time, if you find `tinniness' has been your problem the reason is probably that you used tomato puree, which seems to have a knack for making sauces tinny. Here's a remedy: after about 30 minutes of simmering, sprinkle about a teaspoon of baking soda over the top, let it sit for about 10 seconds, then stir through. Sauce will bubble up, but a lot of the acid and therefore "gas" will be relieved. Don't stir too hard or over-stir or you'll "break" your sauce. After the bubbling has stopped, stir through again, lower the temperature a bit and cover the pot for about 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes of further cooking, you may again remove the lid.