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why does my sauce break

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babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 08:47 AM

I have tried numerous recipes that call for tomato sauce and cream to make a pasta sauce. Each time I try them, I think that maybe this will be the time it works. But no, last night same story. What am I doing wrong?

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    escondido123 RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 08:55 AM

    So you have a tomato sauce and you add the cream...what goes wrong? Mine never looks completely homogenized but I've never considered that a problem.

    1. dave_c RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 08:56 AM

      First so I know if we are thinking of the same thing - What do mean by break?

      My first thought is that your tomato sauce needs to cook down a bit more, too much liquid. Second guess would be heat too high.

      1. monavano RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 08:57 AM

        Are you using cream, or are you using something with less fat like half and half or milk? Full on cream will blend in beautifully and make a red-orange sauce. Turn the heat way down when you add the cream, too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: monavano
          Hank Hanover RE: monavano Mar 9, 2012 09:12 AM

          I agree. I suspect the sauce is boiling when she adds the cream. Turn the heat down, add the cream and slowly bring it up. In fact, I see no reason for it to boil at all once you add the cream. Cream is usually added at the last minute.

          1. re: Hank Hanover
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            escondido123 RE: Hank Hanover Mar 9, 2012 09:15 AM

            But when I make a Bolognese the cream goes in for a good twenty minutes and it seems fine.

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          babs2010 RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 09:13 AM

          Well I use the term "break" but as a home cook maybe that is the wrong term. I did not have a super high heat, I actually turned it way down when I put the noodles in, so that it wouldn't be too dry. Then I added the cream (it was "table cream") not the full on heavy cream, and I ended up with little and I mean really little curd like things and not a creamy consistency. I guess I will keep trying. Thank you all for your input.

          8 Replies
          1. re: babs2010
            monavano RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 09:16 AM

            Use light-heavy cream with 30-36% fat (you need the fat content to prevent breakage), add to sauce and blend BEFORE you add the pasta. Break is the right term though.

            1. re: monavano
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              babs2010 RE: monavano Mar 9, 2012 09:19 AM

              Thanks. In re-reading my last comment, I should have specified that I put the noodles in the water to boil, not into the sauce. It was an angel hair pasta so it cooked immediately, then I transferred it to the sauce which already had the cream and was on low heat. I will use heavy cream next time, but I try to save a few calories here and there when I can. Maybe this is one of those where you can't use a lower fat cream. Thanks monavano.

              1. re: babs2010
                monavano RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 09:23 AM

                Totally get saving the calories! Another tip is to add cornstarch to sour cream when you add at the end of creamy dishes like paprikash and goulash. It'll prevent the dairy from breaking. Add low or off heat, of course.

                1. re: monavano
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                  escondido123 RE: monavano Mar 9, 2012 09:25 AM

                  Great tip on the corn starch, thanks.

                  1. re: escondido123
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                    babs2010 RE: escondido123 Mar 9, 2012 09:27 AM

                    Yes, I like that idea too. happy eating :)

              2. re: monavano
                mtoo RE: monavano Mar 10, 2012 01:55 PM

                +1. My understanding is that salt will cause lower fat creams to curdle. Learned that the hard way when I was making a morel cream sauce with half and half. I only use heavy cream for pasta sauces now.

                1. re: mtoo
                  monavano RE: mtoo Mar 10, 2012 05:28 PM

                  Oh no... morels are $$! That had to hurt!

              3. re: babs2010
                dave_c RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 09:59 AM

                Based upon your description of what you do, I would add the cream, literally, at the last minute of cooking. You basically just want to warm the cream and blend. You don't need to bring to a boil.

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                fourunder RE: babs2010 Mar 9, 2012 09:58 AM

                Your heat could be too high.....but the cream is definitely too cold. You need to temper it or let it sit out of the refrigerator before you add it to the sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fourunder
                  chowser RE: fourunder Mar 11, 2012 08:35 AM

                  This is my thought, too. Temper the cream w/ a little pasta water.

                2. eclecticsynergy RE: babs2010 Mar 11, 2012 01:07 AM

                  Yep. Low heat, warm cream, last minute.
                  Or use creme fraiche- it's more forgiving and won't curdle.

                  1. yakittyyak RE: babs2010 Mar 16, 2012 08:02 AM

                    HEY!! I actually know this one! lol!
                    It is the combo of the acid in the tomato base, and the cream, that is giving you the problem.
                    You need to add a bit (maybe a tsp or a tablespoon ) of the tomato sauce to the cream FIRST...and stir it up. THEN you can add this concoction to the actual pot of tomato sauce with no problem.
                    For future reference, add a bit of the 'tough guy' ingredient (tomato, citrus, etc) into a LARGE amount of the 'good guy' ingredient First, and Stir WELL. By doing this, the 'good guys' have been 'vaccinated' and won't break when dumped into the 'bad guys'.
                    Do not heat more than necessary past this point.
                    I hope this makes sense to you. When it was explained to me a million years ago, my instructor had a much better analogy!
                    Good Luck with it. Let me know if it works!

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