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Jarred Pasta Sauce

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So you don't feel like making your own pasta sauce-- what to do?

The vast majority of jarred sauces are not very good. There are about 20 bad ones for 1 good one out there.

Here's what I look for:
Italian imported tomatoes
EV Olive oil, with NO OTHER OILS in there
NO SUGAR, NO Corn Syrup, No sweeteners at all.
No unpronounceables.

The only ones I use on a regular basis now are
Paesana Puttanesca
and Moms Marinara.

Any other ideas? Most of the ones in the regular supermarkets are awful, sweetened, and have "vegetable oil" (Canola?) in them.

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  1. In my Italian family, and we often used Francesco Rinaldi low salt as a base. Classico is good, too. Full disclosure: not sure were the tomatoes come from, but there is no Corn Syrup.

    4 Replies
    1. re: lafouchow

      Classico-- FAIL--- sweet tasting, (sugar) and Canola Oil. Yuk. Rinaldi-- Sugar and soybean oil (Worse).

      1. re: lemarais

        Perhaps you will have more luck buying imported tomatoes in a box as a base.

        The website for Classico does not list sugar or canola oil. The Rinaldi no salt does have soybean oil, but no sugar.

        1. re: lafouchow

          After garlic... and canola oil!

          Diced Plum Tomatoes (Plum Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Calcium Chloride, Citric Acid), Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Onions, Olive Oil, Garlic, Sugar, Salt, Spices, Soybean Oil, Dehydrated Parsley Flakes, Canola Oil, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors Contains Soybeans

          http://www.classico.com/red-sauces/ma...

          "natural flavors" is a loose term that could mean lots of nasty things... to be avoided!

          1. re: lemarais

            To be fair, the offending oils are far down the list after spices etc., which means that by weight, they do not contribute to the product that much. Of course, it is better if they do not include them altogether! I wonder if those oils had to be included because of some part of the manufacturing process they are required in.

            I do not use any pre-made pasta sauces at home, but happen to be served a spaghetti dish made with a base of Classico sauce last night, doctored up with additional olive oil and other wholesome ingredients. It seemed pretty decent, if you do not want to make everything from scratch.

    2. I stopped buying it because of the BPA issue but used to love Trader Giotto's marinara. Great on its own but easy to doctor up too.

      http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-fl...

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        What BPA issue? If you're suggesting it for others to try, what's the deal?

        1. re: Midlife

          Some people think the BPA's are a minor issue and need to be avoided at all costs, others thinks its all hype. I am in the "better safe than sorry" camp since I also feed a young kid. So if you don't believe the press this is a really good sauce. YMMV.

          http://www.hhs.gov/safety/bpa/

          Quote:
          <Bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, is a chemical that has been used for more than 40 years in the manufacture of many hard plastic food containers such as baby bottles and reusable cups and the lining of metal food and beverage cans, including canned liquid infant formula. Trace amounts of BPA can be found in some foods packaged in these containers.>>

      2. Avoid any jarred sauced that doesn't start with plum tomatoes, or includes tomato puree.

        1. Ok, this is going to be out of left field, but my new favorite pasta sauce is from Rasika (the DC Indian restaurant).

          I get the kashmiri sauce by Rasika, which you can find at Whole Foods in in the DC area.

          1. How does Rao's marinara measure up?

            1. I use San Marzano pasta sauce. I think it's the best I've ever had from a jar. It's not the cheapest, but it's delicious. I've also used it as a pizza sauce on homemade pizza dough and liked it on that as well.

              1. Here is a thread with many suggestions. My personal favorite is Rao's.

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

                1. Perhaps your quest for good jarred pasta sauce can be satisfied by taking a look at these threads on the same topic, all with lots of replies (246, 110, and 136 replies respectively):

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514896
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/357227
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/356746

                  If nothing else, they make for interesting reading! good luck.

                  1. For those of you - like me - who would NEVER even DREAM of paying the exhorbitant prices supposedly "gourmet" commercial jarred pasta sauces command, might I suggest Costco's own "Kirkland" brand marinara? Costs a pittance, comes in a 3-pack (32-ounce jars), & is WONDERFUL. I always have 3-6 jars in my pantry at all times, & hope & pray that Costco continues to make it forever.

                    Ingredients? "Tomatoes, water, tomato concentrate, onions, garlic, basil, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, citric acid". I don't see anything to complain about there.

                    1. I really like either Classico Tomato Basil or Cucina Antica.

                      1. I had Dell'Amore jarred sauce a couple years ago while visiting a friend in RI... Never saw it sold here in NJ. Was excellent for a jarred sauce.

                        1. I usually hate jarred sauces too. But I found one I can tolerate. Try Giada DeLaurentis sauce that you can get at Target. My biggest complaint is that it is a little sweet. But in a pinch, it works!

                          1. http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/04/wh...
                            http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/ma...

                            1. Another really good jarred marinara sauce is the one put out by actor Paul Sorvino under his own name & by his own company - "Paul Sorvino Foods". Quality all the way at a reasonable price.

                              Our local supermarket carried it for awhile, then dropped it for some reason, which was both irritating & questionable since it was snatched up as soon as it was restocked, so demand certainly wasn't the issue.

                              If you're lucky enough to find it, do give it a try. He makes a decent vodka sauce as well.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                I had the vodka sauce once and it was delicious. I actually used it for some turkey mushroom spinach stuffed shells. This was years ago though.

                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  I would like to taste this sauce, If only just because i remember him from "Law and Order", and liked his character. Now that I've heard it's pretty good I may buy some. Although i tend to think it's an east coast thing.

                                2. My favorite sauce is Via Roma specifically the Puttanesca. It's the store brand for A&P, Pathmark, Waldbaums.

                                  There are several other threads addressing this subject with tons of responses.
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514896
                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832740

                                  1. No sugar is the key for me. Since I have started making my own, I use Tommaso's from North Beach as a backup. This is a local product, but available online.

                                    1. Have you tried Mario Batali's sauces? Marinara: San Marzano Imported Italian Plum Tomatoes from Sarnese-Nocerino area in Italy, Fresh Onions, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Carrots, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Fresh Italian Parsley, Fresh Thyme. Tomato basil: San Marzano Imported Italian Plum Tomatoes from Sarnese-Nocerino area of Italy, Fresh Red Onion, Freh Carrots, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fresh Basil, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt.

                                      1. Alessi Pasta Sauce - Smooth Style Marinara is highly rated by many on a recent thread (250 posters) on just this subject, jarred pasta sauce. A bit pricy at $6.99 per and 6.39 if ordered in a 6 pack. Not sure about shipping. I will give this a try, too much favorable print to ignore. I have never noticed this sauce in the Mid Atlantic, perhaps it is not in wide distribution and popular in another region.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bacchus101

                                          Is it just me that thinks its crazy to spend over 6:00 for jarred sauce? Never mind if you have pay shipping on top of it…

                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                            Not just you foodiex2. It does seem like a high price. Unfortunately I have had my curiosity aroused and I am going to have to find a jar some where, fool that I am. It will have to be damn good sauce for there to be a 2nd jar.

                                        2. "Vegetable" oil is usually soybean, not canola.

                                          1. My tomato sauce is pretty easy and quick, and has none of the sturm und drang that the jarred sauce seems to have.

                                            Olive oil, add garlic and onion, add fennel, add tomatoes and a lot of oregano and anchovy paste and chopped basil, it's always good and I've been told at least once that that was the best spaghetti sauce my guest had ever had. No log drawn-out cooking.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              I know it's sometime revolting, but I had no idea that jarred tomato sauce contained sturm and drang. :)

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                Your recipe looks quite interesting, thanks. I admit I needed to look up the definition of sturm und drang; sure sounds nasty. Exactly which definition are you applying to jarred sauce?

                                              2. Anyone ever use DeCecco Sauce? Ingredients look pure, sauce is bottled in Italy...