tomato sauces question
Hello. We don't like acidic, spicey tomato sauces. I prefer to spice my sauces with fresh vegetables including some carrot, al dente squash, celery and fennel seed. Would the best canned tomato for me to use be pureed tomato because it's the most plain?
Sometimes, when the sauce is too acidic or salty I add a little baking soda or more carrots. Thanks.
Right now, tomatoes are in season (assume you live in the Northern Hemisphere), so fresh ones are the best they'll be all year. That's what I'd use in making a sauce. The rest of the year, you can use any canned tomato that doesn't have added seasonings. Pureed tomato is no plainer than whole tomatoes to which nothing has been added and the whole ones will give you a nicer tomato flavor. My favorite canned tomatoes are the Muir Glen brand. They're organic and they have many different types, some with no salt or added seasoning of any kind, so you can control the flavor. I also find them a lot sweeter than other canned tomatoes. I've never needed to tone down the acid or add sugar or extra carrots.
But for now, while they're in season, go to a farmer's market and pick up some heirloom tomatoes.
I don't like acidic sauces either. I think heirlooms are a good investment for tomato sauces that are only briefly cooked, if at all, but not for a typical, long-cooking sauce, where they won't make much difference. They are several dollars a pound here in the Boston area, so unless you can buy a peck or two of bruised ones, they are cost-prohibitive for sauce.
I prefer canned crushed, whole, or sliced tomatoes in puree to plain puree, since you get more body and texture. I stock up on sales, regardless of brand, and always add tomato paste, which helps mellow acidic tomatoes.
Use ripe in-season tomatoes and add a splash of Vodka to your sauce as you simmer. The Vodka will cook off and you'll be left with a wonderful full-bodied tomato sauce with deep complex flavors that will play well with the other veggies that you normally add to your sauces, e.g. the carrots, celery, squash, etc.
Using Vodka will get you the best of both worlds -- the fresh vibrant earthy sweetness of tomatoes without the astringent acidity that you sometimes find with tomato sauces.
The best canned tomatoes, by far, are muir glen. However, if you are near a good grocery store, or farmer's market and can pick up fresh tomatoes, make it from scratch.
On preview- exactly what isolda said.
+2 on Muir Glen being a notch or three above the rest. I go with whole tomatoes myself, so I can decide how finely I want to chop them. Also, I've always had a completely unfounded but nagging suspicion that companies put their less than stellar tomatoes into their pureed products, where individual imperfections are lost.
Muir Glen also has a "fire-roasted" line, which is excellent---altho I haven't seen fire-roasted whole tomatoes in awhile.
This question got me to thinking about the best way to cook farmers market tomatoes into tomato sauce and I found this fantastic recipe online. I think the key is to roast the tomatoes off before making the sauce as it really concentrates the flavor, though I'm not sure how this affects the acidity.