Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 9, 2012 08:47 AM

why does my sauce break

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?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 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. 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. 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

          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

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

        2. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  Great tip on the corn starch, thanks.

                  1. re: escondido123

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

              2. re: monavano

                +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

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

              3. re: babs2010

                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.

              4. 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

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