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Jarred Spaghetti Sauce

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What do you think is best? Is Rao's worth the $$?

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  1. Pomi makes a good base.
    I usually buy italian sauce from a italian food importer.
    They come in tall skinny jars, various brands .
    For off the shelf supermarket stuff classico is decent.

    2 Replies
    1. re: terasec

      If sodium is a problem, Trader Joe's "Organic Marinara Sauce" has only 25 mg of sodium per half-cupful (brand names have 300 - 800 mg) and is a tasty very tomato-y sauce that you can doctor up with whatever you want (as long as it's not salt).

      1. re: Querencia

        Have you checked how much sugar they have? Just curious as most have ridiculous amounts, and hoping they are getting better.

    2. I agree about Pomi. I like Barilla Marinara for a good basic jarred sauce.

      There have been previous discussions on this topic.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514896

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357227

      1. I like Prego, the chunky tomato, onion and garlic.

        1. There are several threads already on this. That said, I think Rao's is probably the best-tasting jarred sauce I've ever tried. I do think it's a bit thin, but the taste is really top-notch. Is it worth the $$? I guess that depends on your individual circumstances. I never bought it until I finally got some on sale, for $4 a jar. But if I was flush with cash...sure...that would be my choice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FitMom4Life

            >>>There are several threads already on this.<<<
            How right you are! And, shame on me for not wading through all 200 posts.
            Thanks to those of you who took time to repeat what you may have already posted. I appreciate your opinions.

          2. We get Raos but usually only buy it at Tom Leonard's (a spin-off of Stew Leonard's) because it is 2 dollars cheaper a jar there.

            We so rarely use jarred sauce but it is the only one so far that will do in a pinch.

            1. I just get the bottom shelf, $1 can of 4-cheese sauce. Then, if I want to do anything special to it, I'll maybe start with a caramelized mire poix, add a bit of tomato paste, some fennel, and red pepper flakes.

              15 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                If you're doing all that cooking already, why not skip the jar and use whole tomatoes (canned or fresh) instead?

                I don't mean that in a snarky way at all; I'm curious. I use jarred sauce when I don't want to (or don't have the time to) do all the chopping of the various veggies/spices/tomatoes I use in homemade sauce. If you're already taking the time to prep and cook ingredients, why do you then add a jarred sauce? Do you find you get better flavor/texture?

                (Again, not meant to be snarky - trying to learn. I get paranoid on this board for some reason - I always feel someone is going to read my comments as being condescending when I don't mean for them to.)

                1. re: Ditdah

                  exactly....doctoring jarred, imho, is a waste of time and money. i don't use jarred. never have. saute garlic and onion with s&p and crushed red pepper flaks. add some crushed or whole peeled canned tomato. simmer. you can make it in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

                  i, too, am not trying to be snarky....

                  1. re: eLizard

                    Well, I actually DO make "doctored jarred sauce" quite a bit (see my post below.) But when I do, it's because I don't want to take the time to prep and cook other stuff - I just doctor with spices and such that I can throw right in the pan without additional prepping.

                    My question was simply - if you're already chopping/prepping veg and other items, what is the benefit to then adding jarred sauce to it vs. tomatoes?

                    1. re: Ditdah

                      I think it might be the time factor. The jarred sauces are usually at a long-cooked consistency. It only takes a couple of minutes to saute up some onions and garlic and even some canned diced tomatoes for extra chunkiness, then dump a jar of sauce into it for the bulk of the end product.

                      Despite my efforts to the contrary, my kids love the huge sugar hit from the commercial jarred sauce so rather than argue with them, I try to improve it a bit with some fresher stuff added.

                      I will admit that after our trip to Italy, where nothing we ate tasted anything like anything that could ever come out of a jar, I've gotten them to appreciate the quick-cooked sauces with fresh(er) ingredients and mostly do those now.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        I don't like canned diced tomatoes, they don't break down. When I do it from scratch, I use crushed tomatoes.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          That's an excellent point and I sometimes use crushed as well. But I like the diced for precisely that reason -- they stay firm and distinct. Calcium Chloride is my friend.

                    2. re: eLizard

                      I would disagree,
                      Adding your own flavors to jarred is quick and at least ingredients you add are fresh,
                      Making sauce from canned whole/peeled tomatoes takes more time,
                      Like fresh tomatoes have to break down the whole/peeled tomatoes which can take +1 hour even longer is preferred.
                      I preffer to make it as fresh as possible, and do use canned whole tomatoes quite often.
                      But have no problem with using a good jarred base sauce in a hurry.
                      What I don't like about off the shelf jarred sauce is the sugar and salt.

                      1. re: terasec

                        hahahahahaha! So, I've had a rough day and didn't have anything planned for supper. I went to physical therapy this morning, got a bit of bad news about my right shoulder (bow and strumming arm), was pretty upset. Then this afternoon I went to a school and provided enrichment (and the kids really lifted my mood, thank goodness). Then taught 4 violin lessons this evening.
                        I came home about a half an hour ago, and guess what my husband cooked for supper????
                        Spaghetti with Italian sausage and the $1 4-cheese canned sauce.
                        and it was delicious!!!!!!

                        1. re: wyogal

                          What a nice story to hear. Something like that can maintain a marriage.

                      2. re: eLizard

                        >add some crushed or whole peeled canned tomato. simmer

                        I like jarred but my neighbors from Philly, people with good taste and of Italian decent, just use tomatoes and maybe S&P. There's no secret formula, no cooking for hours.

                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          I guess it depends on the sauce. A fresh tomato sauce is as different from a long simmering sauce as it is from, let's say, alfredo. It's a different animal altogether.
                          I love both.

                      3. re: Ditdah

                        Because fresh tomatoes are hard to find. My husband hates whole tomatoes.
                        It's not that much work to do just a quick chop and saute of veggies. I like to layer flavors. If I'm going to use canned tomatoes anyway, why not just open a can of sauce.
                        It's really not all that much cooking.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          Ahhh... makes sense! See, I knew some people would think I was trying to put down your method, but I wasn't; I was honestly curious about the reason for your preference. Thanks!!

                          And sorry to hear about your rough day, but having a home-cooked meal from your husband had to make it better!

                          1. re: Ditdah

                            It was great!
                            Yes, it's about layered flavors, and serving my family what they want, too. I'm a more adventurous eater. My husband is not. He was raised on the spaghetti sauce his mom made, with tomato soup. yep. One of the first times I made mine, from scratch, chunky stuff, he hated it.
                            On the other hand, he makes a mean lasagne. He made it for our first real date back in 1979.
                            and when I wrote "mire poix" is was mistaken, more "holy trinity" onion, green pepper, carrot. NO celery!
                            Personally, I like a quick sauce of just olive oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes. But last night's sauce was darn good, very meaty with the Italian sausage.

                            1. re: wyogal

                              I love adding sauteed celery to a pasta sauce, jarred or home-made. Sauteing removes some of snap, and I find it adds a nutty flavour plus an interesting texture to the sauce.

                              And I'm a big believer in doctoring jarred sauces, because I live alone, and don't often have a plan for dinner before I walk in the door. I don't want to make a big batch of scratch sauce because I only have pasta once a week or so, and my freezer is full of meat and bread I bought on sale. So a quick saute of onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, and some spices added to the sauce gives me a tasty dinner in less than 15 minutes.

                    3. I find that most jarred sauces need a bit of tweaking, and if I'm going to do that anyway, I don't see the point in paying for top-shelf stuff. I usually buy a mid-priced sauce (the dirt cheap ones are too thin) like Classico or Barilla. Then I throw in plenty of dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, and a few splashes of red wine. I think this combo makes the best-tasting jarred sauce (for my tastes, obviously. Not everyone will like it.)

                      Now, because someone will probably complain that I'm using dried/powdered spices... If I'm making from scratch, I don't use the dried herbs if I can help it, and never the garlic powder. But I use a jarred sauce about 50% of the time (for time and convinence) and so the dried/powdered spices are just fine for me in those situations. I realize not everyone agrees.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ditdah

                        And I see nothing wrong with using dried/powered spices if they are otherwise fresh ...

                        1. re: hawkeyeui93

                          It was mainly the garlic. I once posted somewhere on CH that I used garlic powder in something, and based on the reaction you'd have thought I posted that I was a convicted child murder. I wanted to premptively avoid that reaction again...

                          1. re: Ditdah

                            It is like mentioning Vodka on this board's spirits section ....

                      2. Anyone tried Emeril's Home Style Marinara Sauce?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          Not bad, but generally North of $4.00/jar in my part of the world [Iowa].

                        2. Newsday just reported on a taste test the other day: http://www.newsday.com/columnists/jam...

                          The one that tastes like home made, traditional sauce like my old Italian neighbors made is Enrico's Traditional. I stopped making my own sauce and started using that for my lasagna after years not buying any jarred sauces.

                          1. Palmieri Foods from New Haven, CT. It's sold in BJ's and Costco in the New England area in half gallon jugs . It reminds me of the sauce we got on the fried dough pizza's at the Church Carnival's growing up in CT. Thick, all natural, little on the sweet side. It's also sold locally throughout CT in the jar. Their Pizza sauce and Roasted Garlic sauces are my favorite. The best part is I have used it for years when cooking for family gatherings. Everyone in my family makes their own sauce from scratch, and they are all very good, but they never new that I was using Palmieri's.

                            http://www.palmierifoods.com/

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: awm922

                              I'm a fan of Palmieri's sauces too. They are on the expensive side, though, so if I'm just going to doctor a sauce, I start with Classico or something like that. I add a good glug or two of balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then when I stir in the pasta and some cooking liquid, I add some parmesan cheese. So much easier on those nights when I have no time to cook, and am busy reading and researching.

                              1. re: kubasd

                                If you're near one, Xpect Discounts carries Palmieri's at the best price for a quart jar.

                            2. Tried some Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce once, just because I liked the name. It did taste pretty good. Maybe the manufacturer's name doesn't need to end in a vowel if the product does.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: DonShirer

                                The trouble with Newman's sauce and just about everything else they produce is how much sugar is added.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  I have also found that some cooks add too much sugar to their homemade sauce, but the nice thing about making one's own is that you can commit to limiting it.

                                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                    I never added any, but since I no longer eat pasta except rarely, I now resort to jarred sauces when I need some. Most are lower in sugar than Newman's.

                              2. I ended up with this: http://www.mezzetta.com/product/10700...
                                It's a CA brand so don't know if it's distributed nationally. Anyhow thought it looked interesting and the price was right.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Gail

                                  It's a nationally distributed brand. I use their jarred products (but not the spaghetti sauce). They are pretty good.

                                  1. re: Gail

                                    Mezzetta Puttanesca is my favorite jarred tomato sauce. Very flavorful, but I wish it wasn't quite so salty. The variety with prosciutto in it is good too.

                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                      Puttanesca sauce is one sauce I always make from scratch, using canned pomodoro San Marzano.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        I only make sauce from scratch with tomatoes from my garden or, in a pinch, from the farmer's market. Otherwise I let Mezzetta do the work.

                                        What kind of olives do you use in your puttanesca?

                                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                          Gaeta, preferably. They are some trouble to find, but my daughter sent me a jar. I've been hoarding it for that use only. A local deli has bulk gaeta olives, but they are in wine. In that form, they overpower the dish, even when well rinsed.

                                    2. re: Gail

                                      I like the Mezzetta pasta sauces, as well. Sometimes they go on sale at my Stop & Shop 2 for $7.00 and that's when I stock up!! I only cook for 2, and would rather spend my time on other things. These sauces are quite good.

                                    3. Rao's is usually 8-10 dollars whenever I notice it in a store......It used to go on sale for 4-5 dollars on occasion, but i rarely see it on sale now. I would purchase it on sale, as it would only be slightly more than a good can of tomatoes.....but I could not bring myself to pay the 8-10....even for a gift.

                                      Who remembers Aunt Millie's.....

                                      1. There's a brand simply called San Marzano Sauce (I think; can't find anything else that looks like a brand name) that has terrific flavor. It wasn't cheap- don't remember the exact price.
                                        The label is white with a green stripe top and bottom. In between are a row of San Marzano tomatoes.

                                        1. I like Via Roma Puttanesca sauce. Sometimes I use it plain, sometimes I use it as a base for a long cooking sauce that has roasted peppers, onions, Italian sausage, browned ground beef, canned tomatoes, and spices added. Only problem is it hasn't been available anywhere the past two months.

                                          I just got a jar of Michaels of Brooklyn Puttanesca yesterday. Haven't tried it yet.