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What's your favorite jared tomato sauce?

catspercapita Jan 15, 2011 12:32 PM

I usually make my own, but there are the times when you need to open a jar and eat. I like Rao's but it's so expensive, even when they go on sale. Other than that I'll buy Trader Joe's Organic tomato sauce just to have on hand or something from Whole Foods if it's on sale. What do you like to keep around?

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  1. junescook Jan 15, 2011 12:42 PM

    During the late summer DW makes sauce from our tomatoes and herbs and cans it so I've got a supply of that handy to use all year. Apart from that, somebody gave me a jar of M. Batali's that I thought was pretty good. Then there was a sauce called Frank's, I think, and I liked their Fra Diabolo, but that might have been local or regional to CT or Northeast.

    1. coll Jan 15, 2011 01:03 PM

      Never thought I'd love a jarred sauce, but Silver Palate is really good. I buy a few when they're on sale, which is often.

      4 Replies
      1. re: coll
        lynnthetwin Jan 15, 2011 04:17 PM

        Love Silver Palate Marinara. Very light sauce, good in a pinch.

        1. re: coll
          rudeboy Jan 19, 2011 12:24 PM

          I got some Silver Palate marinaras on closeout for like $3.50 a jar. I should have bought them all....it was so good. Nornally, they are $8+ in Austin. My Italian Sicilian wife said it was the best marinara she's ever had.

          For a cheap sauce, I hate to admit, but I like Emeril's Extra Gaaahhhlic. Go figure......I heat it up with a baby back bone, if I have one.

          1. re: rudeboy
            westsidegal Jan 19, 2011 07:19 PM

            for those of us that live in southern california, the GELSON'S chain of supermarkets normally runs a $4 sale on the silver palate marinara about 3 times a year. . .

            1. re: westsidegal
              coll Jan 20, 2011 01:07 AM

              I've bought it for $2 or $2.50 here in NY, one grocery chain is really pushing the whole Silver Palate line. Works for me!

        2. m
          mmgth Jan 15, 2011 04:34 PM

          I once asked a native Italian woman I worked with this question. I'll never forget the look on her face. Real horror movie reaction minus the scream. I like Classico tomato and basil though it is simple enough to open a can of good tomatoes, season, and add to sauted onions and garlic.

          1. goodhealthgourmet Jan 15, 2011 04:51 PM


            1. o
              ospreycove Jan 16, 2011 07:24 AM

              If you live near Englewood N.J. go to "JERRY'S" they make their own sauce, in jars, it is the best prepared sauce I have tasted.

              1. VeggieHead Jan 16, 2011 07:34 AM

                I'm not certain how far their distribution reaches, but Mid's, out of the Youngstown area on Ohio, is a great sauce, as jarred sauces go. A sicilian recipe, very similar to what the guys I worked for many years ago, Mid's has spice, sweet, and great tomato taste.

                3 Replies
                1. re: VeggieHead
                  ospreycove Jan 16, 2011 07:41 AM

                  For a truly "Special Occasion" sauce; Gustiamo has imported the products of a small Sicilian farmer who makes organic sauce in four versions. They are a little more than commercial sauces , but worth the extra dollars, in over the top taste! San Matteo Farm on the slopes of Mt Etna.

                  1. re: ospreycove
                    VeggieHead Jan 16, 2011 07:58 AM

                    Sounds like a good one Osprey! Through high school, I worked for a family who came over from Southern Sicily who entrusted me to make huge batches of sauce. If only I had paid more attention all those years ago. Mid's is as close to that Spadaro recipe as I have found.

                  2. re: VeggieHead
                    Tradewind58 Jan 17, 2011 11:19 AM

                    Mid's is very good....none of that sweet taste. I believe their headquarters is in Navarre, Ohio.

                  3. n
                    nvcook Jan 16, 2011 12:48 PM

                    Rao's. Pricey but handy in an emergency.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: nvcook
                      lilgi Jan 16, 2011 04:33 PM

                      I find that no other jarred tomato sauce even comes close to Rao's, but I must confess that I haven't read any of the other threads. I would love to have different options because of the price tag.

                      1. re: lilgi
                        valerie Jan 19, 2011 07:32 PM

                        I sometimes catch Rao's on sale at Stew Leonard's -- 2 jars (32 oz.) for $10. I stock up since I agree...nothing else even comes close.

                        1. re: valerie
                          lilgi Jan 19, 2011 07:34 PM

                          Definitely keeping my eye out for that, didn't know they go on sale there. Thanks for the heads up!

                          1. re: lilgi
                            valerie Jan 22, 2011 05:30 AM

                            Just saw an ad for Stew's...32 oz. jar of Rao's is $4.99 until 1/25.

                            1. re: valerie
                              lilgi Jan 22, 2011 07:48 AM


                    2. FoodChic Jan 16, 2011 06:52 PM

                      Alessi puttanesca sauce. Out of this world.

                      1. s
                        sisterfunkhaus Jan 16, 2011 08:19 PM

                        Barilla. No weird ingredients, very simple, tastes nice. The roasted garlic is really good. I also love Muir Glen Garlic Garlic. But, Barilla is really inexpensive. We've tried Rao's, but were not impressed at all. We felt that it was really overrated for the price.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                          lilgi Jan 16, 2011 09:02 PM

                          I'm wondering if you've tried Bertollis and what you thought, because it's in the same category as Barilla but has gotten better reviews over all.

                          1. re: lilgi
                            coll Jan 17, 2011 10:59 AM

                            I can't even say exactly why, but any brand owned by Unilever gives me pause. Not sure that our best interests are at heart.

                            1. re: coll
                              lilgi Jan 17, 2011 12:38 PM

                              I'll have to take your word for it, I'm usually in the dark with this sort of thing.

                              1. re: lilgi
                                coll Jan 18, 2011 01:34 AM

                                I've worked for companies that were taken over by giant corporations, and the things they would do to save a penny were shocking. At least Barilla still only does Italian food, and not pet food and detergent and so on; from what I've seen, they care about the actual product and not just the bottom line of their acquisitions. And companies can be so devious when they change the ingredients as a corporate money saving measure soon after they take over. Maybe I'm just prejudiced though. Glad I have the luxury to pick and choose.

                                I rarely use canned sauce anyway, Barilla I stock up on in the fall when it's $1, for "emergencies". At that price, it's hard not to!

                                1. re: coll
                                  lilgi Jan 18, 2011 11:11 AM

                                  I see. I don't buy either one, but at $1 a jar I'd find it hard to leave behind, especially for emergencies right?

                                  1. re: lilgi
                                    coll Jan 18, 2011 11:21 AM

                                    And they come in really nice jars, like Mason jars with ounce markings on them, great for other leftovers. I used to exclusively use my own sauce but found out husband doesn't mind junky Italian food occasionally...probably because he only got the real stuff since he was born! So it's great for the parmigiana and baked ziti stuff that I can live without.

                                    1. re: coll
                                      lilgi Jan 18, 2011 11:38 AM

                                      One other peeve that I have (besides the acidity) is that they tend to overcook the sauce, and the lower the quality the more noticeable it is.

                                      We cook our sauce very little here before jarring, and very little afterwards as well. When we use it over pasta, we only flavor the pasta with it with very little sauce.

                          2. re: sisterfunkhaus
                            mcf Jan 18, 2011 01:13 PM

                            I'll buy Barilla, and I also think Rao's is nothing to write home about. The most traditional tasting marinara I've ever found in a jar is Enrico's, so I use it most often for lasagna.

                          3. lilgi Jan 16, 2011 09:03 PM

                            Cats, I normally don't go to Trader Joe's but I will certainly try Joe's Organic since we also make our own sauce here once a year but run out so quickly.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: lilgi
                              whitneybee Jan 18, 2011 08:45 AM

                              I'm not a huge jarred sauce fan, but the Trader Joe's sauce is definitely one of the better ones I've tried, and it's pretty cheap too.

                              1. re: whitneybee
                                lilgi Jan 18, 2011 11:03 AM

                                I know, I only get them when I must and it's usually to use as more of an ingredient. I find most jarred sauces very acidic, with too much sugar added in efforts to balance, so I've given up on any other one. Additionally, I never liked preparing cans of crushed tomatoes either (I can taste how it's stored, I can't describe it).

                                I haven't tried TJ's so will pick some up on my next run :)

                              2. re: lilgi
                                wonderwoman Jan 19, 2011 12:08 PM

                                i've never tried the organic, but i always have a can of the tj marinara on hand, which has has a clean fresh flavor.

                                and last year, i picked up a couple of jars of bertolli on sale, which was actually pretty good.

                                1. re: wonderwoman
                                  lilgi Jan 19, 2011 12:12 PM

                                  Bertolli always gets good reviews, but now I'll feel the wrath of Coll if I pick this up lol. I'm willing to try; good to know about tj marinara :)

                                  1. re: lilgi
                                    coll Jan 19, 2011 01:53 PM

                                    Nah keep telling me it's good and I might just buy it next time it's on sale. Money talks and BS walks as we like to say around here!

                                  2. re: wonderwoman
                                    westsidegal Jan 19, 2011 07:23 PM

                                    if you doctor the tj regular canned marinara sauce with fresh garlic and a little good-quality olive oil, you can fool almost everyone.
                                    I know because i've done it.
                                    (the only person who identified any canned/jarred flavor was privvy to the secret)

                                2. j
                                  jhopp217 Jan 17, 2011 06:28 AM

                                  I know I'm in the minority, but I think Rao's sauce is horrible. While I rarely eat tomato sauce, Newman's Own Five Cheese is probably the best jar tomato sauce I've had.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: jhopp217
                                    rizzo0904 Jan 18, 2011 06:20 AM

                                    I think it's awful too.

                                    1. re: jhopp217
                                      westsidegal Jan 19, 2011 07:23 PM

                                      i think the rao's is awful three

                                    2. JuniorBalloon Jan 17, 2011 08:41 AM

                                      Gia Russa. Expensive, but good.The price inspired me to try and make it myself. I have only bought one or two jars in the last few years. We eat pasta couple times a month.


                                      1. s
                                        Shann Jan 17, 2011 09:21 AM

                                        I think Newman's Own is pretty good. Everything I've had from them (dressing, salsa, etc.) has been quality. Will it replace my Wife's sauce--no, but better than most bottled.

                                        1. i
                                          Isolda Jan 17, 2011 11:03 AM

                                          The only reason Rao's is any better than any other high quality tomato sauce is because of the large quantities of EVOO they use. That's why you pay more for it, too. No other jarred sauce comes close to their oil content, so when I want to turn some lesser brand (TJ's, for example) into something better, I'll add some good EVOO.

                                          But if I'm using a pre-made sauce, I'll use Sauces n Love from the refrigerated section.

                                          1. o
                                            OGguy Jan 18, 2011 11:42 AM

                                            Barilla Marinara. We tried several from TJ's but liked the Barilla better. The price always kept me away from Rao's

                                            1. ChefBoyAreMe Jan 19, 2011 12:13 PM

                                              If you can find it, Alessi is head and shoulders above all others. Practically as good as home made. Imported from Sicily:


                                              Ingredients: Sicilian Pear-Shaped Tomatoes, Alessi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Alessi Sea Salt, Basil

                                              That's it...real stuff.

                                              If you can't find Alessi, look at the ingredients on the brands in store. First, avoid any sauce which lists tomato paste or puree as a main ingredient. Also check the oil...if it says canola or anything, there is probably no olive oil in it. Spices, too, look for basil, specifically, and stay away from dried spices. Finally, if it is an ingredient you can't identify, or wouldn't have in your own kitchen, its probably junk. Just for kicks, pick up a jar of Ragu or Prego, and compare the ingredient list to the one above (I'd post the ingredients myself, but interestingly, neither brand website seems to include this info...make ya go hmmm...

                                              It might be tough to find a good one, but if you can find one with a simple, normal ingredient list, that's the one I'd go with...

                                              1. f
                                                fourunder Jan 19, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                I haven't purchased a jar of tomato sauce since Aunt Millie's was around.....but if I had to, I would try a brand named *Victoria*. Convenience or not, out of principle I could not purchase Rao's due to the cost..... I rather go to a local Pizzeria and give them the business for nearly the same amount it would cost to make Rao's jarred sauce at home.


                                                1. DawneeBabe Jan 19, 2011 08:12 PM

                                                  Nada..Zero...If I need 'sauce'..reach into the freezer for home grown peeled tomatoes...I never have found a commercial 'sauce' that matches real tomatoes, basil from my windowsill and fresh garlic.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: DawneeBabe
                                                    rudeboy Jan 20, 2011 06:39 AM

                                                    ummmm - that wasn't really the original question. I think we'd all like bushels of fresh peeled organic tomatoes, fresh basil, and organic heirloom garlic bulbs more than sauce from a jar......and a Sicilian grandmother to prepare it.

                                                    Funny, though, if that grandmother made it from scratch, and then put it in mason jars, would then it be ruined?

                                                    1. re: DawneeBabe
                                                      tommy Jan 20, 2011 07:06 AM

                                                      Are these brands using 'fake' tomatoes?

                                                    2. b
                                                      beachmouse Jan 20, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                      Boxed Pomi strained tomatoes, then add some dried spices and garlic, splash of olive oil, teaspoon of sugar and maybe some olives, and you're good to go. Adds like 1-2 minutes of prep time compared to prefab marinara, and has a whole lot less salt, which is an issue for the mister.

                                                      1. p
                                                        pasuga Jan 21, 2011 04:39 AM

                                                        Circle's marinara and arabiatta, over Barilla and Newman's. I'm in the Northeast, don't know if the brand is available in other regions.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: pasuga
                                                          Johnny West Jan 21, 2011 04:53 AM

                                                          I'll use any on sale but usually get Del Monte in a can, Barilla or Bertolli.
                                                          I doctor it with extra chopped garlic, dried or fresh basil, parsley, evoo,
                                                          and rinse the jar out with about a 1/4 cup of red wine. Sometimes a can
                                                          of paste is added if I use an extra jar of my home canned tomatoes.

                                                          I usually can 30 quarts of Yakima tomatoes every year that are used
                                                          for making sauce, chili and the like.

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