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Another Homemade Tomato Sauce Thread...curious change from making in NY vs. CA.

I used to live in NYC/NJ and there really perfected my homemade tomato sauce. Finally figured it out to be the right taste and was very proud of the results. Generally, consisted of fresh tomatoes (roma) sometimes mixed with on the vine. Start with onions and garlic in olive oil, then one mushroom, pinch of red chili flakes then add the fresh tomatoes that I diced, skin on - seeds and inners removed, add in dried oregano, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, add some water to bubble up then simmer for a while. A times, if I needed more volume, I would add a box of Pomi. Anyway, always was excellent.

Life is good and finally got to move to Southern California and love it. EXCEPT....something is wrong with my sauce!

Use the same ingredients but the sauce seems to lack depth. I figured adding the mushrooms would provide that umami or depth flavor. I even dabbled with throwing in a little fish sauce but something still seems missing or different.

Has anyone encountered the same problem? Or have any insight? The BF suggests that maybe it's because the water is different. I am thinking maybe the tomatoes are different somehow.

So bummed.

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  1. Tomatoes. Are. Different.

    Terroir.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      'Terroir' why is this word so trendy all of a sudden!?

      1. re: daislander

        It's not trendy. It's been used for decades.

        1. re: linguafood

          I have heard it used maybe 3-4 times before the last 2 weeks and then about 5 times in the last 2 weeks. Words can become trendy new or old.

    2. The tomatoes are different. They are ripe.
      Not picked hard, shipped across the country, gassed red, and bred to have thicker skins.

      So, yes. Its the tomatoes. They likely have a higher water content and more sweetness.
      Maybe cook the sauce longer to concentrate it more or add a bit of tomato paste.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ttrockwood

        You think think the better tomato would make the deeper flavour sauce.

        1. re: daislander

          NJ tomatoes are some of the best. I like them better than CA tomatoes in season. CA grows a lot of things well but tomatoes aren't one if my favorites.

        2. re: Ttrockwood

          Thanks - I think you nailed it. It has been coming out more watery and sweeter.

          1. re: JoJoBlackhawk

            Not sure it's CA or NJ, but how the fruit was grown, and how ripe it is when purchased. Amazing tomatoes in may varieties at SF Bay area farmers' markets: conversely, the old Jersey beefsteaks you'd get in NYC every late summer aren't so available anymore.

        3. What is 'Porni'?

          I like olive oil, wine, oregano or chicken stock for depth.

          3 Replies
          1. re: daislander

            'Porni'
            Sorry, that made me laugh. JoJo wrote 'Pomi'...it's a brand of boxed tomatoes.

            1. re: critter101

              Yep.

              Tetra pack.

              I use the Pomi puree' a lot.
              LOLZ. but not Porni! Hahahaha.

              When doing a marinara with fresh tomatoes, it's always a crap-shoot depending upon tomato source. It varys region to region and season to season unless you grow your own.

              If using canned , like San Marzano's, even brand to brand can vary in flavor. Even canned puree or tomato sauces and paste can vary. WILDLY.

              KNow your ingredients.

              Cooking is science if you want consistant results every time you prepare a dish.
              Varied or changed input factor = unknown results.

              Sure, you can push and pull for a lot of dishes.
              Some ya can't.

              1. re: critter101

                lol ooohh I thought it was a bit funny myself. I need to get my eyes checked.

            2. It's always going to be different. The water matters not at all, and you shouldn't need to add any but a small amount or even none at all to the sauce anyway. The romas you used in NY/NJ were probably from Florida or California, grown in much the same way. The season, ripeness, or particular batches varied and always will. I doubt one mushroom by itself has any real umami power, though. Look carefully at the products you now use: how ripe the fresh tomato? Should be dead ripe, even if it takes a few days out on the counter to get really soft. How does it taste? Need a bit of acid to brighten the flavor? Probably, since most market romas are often little flat tasting. By "on the vine" I assume you mean the salad tomatoes commonly available. They're not great for sauce, though. Adjust acid balance, perhaps a touch of sugar, and seasonings as you cook to reach your flavor goal. You have to, given variability in both fresh and canned tomatoes. Try using a good quality peeled Italian tomato, preferably a brand packed in juice and not puree, to complement the fresh, too. And please, no fish sauce. Try a flavorful extra virgin oil to start, maybe add a clove more garlic, and more fresh basil or parsley instead.

              1. Perhaps the "There's nothing like a Jersey tomato" rumour is true?

                1. Where are buying your tomatoes and when are you cooking it? Tomatoes aren't in season yet.