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Fixing an overly sweet tomato pasta sauce

Hi everyone,

My MIL gave me a very nice homemade tomato/beef pasta sauce but it is overly sweet, I think from too much red wine (or sugar, I don't know, I don't want to call her and ask LOL). How would you fix this/balance it??

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  1. How much sauce are we talking?

    if just a quart or so, I just buy one of the small 8oz cans of grocery store tomato sauce and toss in, along with a squirt of tomato paste out of a tube and then bring to temp and heat.

    Mix, add more salt, pepper and spices to taste.

    More pasta sauce than that and go up to a 14oz can of unseasoned tomato sauce.

    Thre is no real way to remove the sugar.. You can only dillute it.

    Some 95% of the time I make my own red sauce, doing the above and then even adding a meat component like sausage or ground beef will get the sugar level back ih line if too heavy..

    Using the ground meat also works if reheated and then cooled and let to sit for a few days in the fridge as the sugar level does the osmosis thing and gets even lower as the unseasoned meats soak it up. Same thing with salt level if using lighty salted or unsalted sausage or ground beef.

    Works like a champ.

    1. Having been married to my wife of Italian heritage for more than 52 years, I would suggest adding some red wine vinegar and cooking down the sauce (don't tell my wife that I used the word 'sauce' instead of 'gravy') to the desired consistency. The vinegar should add some tartness to the 'condimento' (or salsa).

      1. I would add some salty cheese like pecorino or parmigiano before hitting it again with any salt.

        Another possibiliy is to add the seasoned pasta cooking water, and let it evaporate a bit.

        1. Thinly sliced lemon or thickly sliced lemon peel.

            1. Yeah just dump in a can of crushed tomatoes and some tomato paste. Don't add any salt until you've balanced the sweetness first.

              1. So, OK...How did you ameliorate (fix) the overly sweet tomato pasta sauce?

                1. Do it with vinegar. A little sweet & sour never hurt a tomato sauce.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Querencia

                    After posting I thought of something else. Divert this sauce from pasta use and turn it into Barbecued Beef, where you want a sweet & sour tomatoey taste, plus whatever spice you want to make it a bit hot.

                  2. In general, I have learned to resist the urge to add sugar to any tomato-based sauces or many dishes because it can overwhelm the other wonderful flavors. For example, you can add some sweetness to turkey chili with a small amount of pureed apple pulp (from a real apple with the peel removed unless you need the extra fiber).

                    My uses for sugar in entrees are mainly reserved for purposes of carmelizing meats during browning and it does not take much sugar.

                    I try to convince myself that I can get my share of sugar fixes from desserts, etc.