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Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Posted by hoorayfororganic (My Page) on
Fri, May 4, 12 at 11:09

Not in the way that you think though.

I recently started looking up recipes for 'home made pastasauce' or 'pasta sauce from scratch'
What I found disappointed me. So many of these recipes call for...tomato paste...or even canned tomato sauce.

Or, boiling tomatoes quickly, then plunging them into ice to remove the skins...and getting rid of seeds....

This bothers me on many levels. These methods...
1) are ridiculously energy intensive and wasteful.

2) use premade sauce, which defeats the purpose.

3) use canned items, which are bathing in endocrine
disruptors (canned anything these days is usually
lined with plastics that leach chemicals into your food & mimic hormones.

4) waste the skin and seeds of the tomato.

Having no experience with making sauce whatsoever, yet capable of doing things 100x more complex,
while being a skeptical and cynical idealist of a purist, I would like to set out on making my own
sauce..the right way. Well, what I think is the right way, at least.

So does anyone know what's wrong with taking tomatoes, cutting/mashing them up, adding garlic/herbs,
and maybe, if needed, simmering until the sauce is a little thick? Maybe simmering the herbs in oil
a little to diffuse the flavor throughout the sauce?

Why isn't this possible...what would be wrong with this?
I'm about to try this tonight but was just curious as to why all these recipes are so...not from scratch.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

LOL, I think you meant to post this on the Harvest forum, but I agree with you.

Nothing is "wrong" with starting from scratch, in fact, IMHO, it's "right". It seems to me that most of America is, well, I'll say it, LAZY! When you have companies like Stouffer's selling completely cooked, assembled, "meals in a bag" which the consumer just reheats, and then it advertises them as "a hot home-cooked meal" something is wrong with the picture.

As far as the skin and tomato seeds go, that is just a convention. Many people don't like to eat either, because they tend to stick in the teeth. But, if it doesn't bother you, no reason you can't leave them in. Or, as an alternative, you could perhaps finely puree in a food processor or blender to grind them so small they can't be detected.

I guarantee you, if you start with all fresh, quality ingredients, you can make something that will blow away the commercially made, highly processed competition.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

We noticed the same thing a couple of years ago. The worst part is we specifically looked for ones "from scratch"... some of them even used ketchup as well as the canned tomatoes or tomato paste.

What we now do is throw our fresh tomatoes in the blender and them boil down the puree. Forget the canned tomatoes or ketchup.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

  • Posted by lonmower zone8 Western Oregon (My Page) on
    Fri, May 4, 12 at 11:44

Tomato sauce freezes well and I make large batches through out the harvest season

Using a large sauce pan (10 quart)

Chop or food process fine
several large onions
one whole garlic (peeled)
1 cup of fresh fresh basil

(fresh basil is KEY to good sauce)

lightly saute using 1/2 cup olive oil

chop well or food process washed stemmed tomatoes

Sauce tomatoes work best because they have less liquid

Process enough tomatoes to nearly fill your pan

add 1/4 cup Honey
salt and pepper to taste

I cook this down, stirring occasionally, at low heat and covered for 10 to 12 hours. The longer and slower you cook...the better your sauce will be.

Making good tomato sauce is simple and it is an art not a science. Slow long cook!!! Have some fun!


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Agree that this is clearly a Harvest Forum discussion if you plan to preserve the sauce or the Cooking Forums discussion if you are talking about only making fresh sauce.

But I would add that you are looking at the wrong sources if those are the only recipes you are finding.

Dave


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Thanks, I briefly looked and then stopped after I lost hope in most of the recipes online. It's good to know that the simple straightforward way works. Thanks for the help. Probably the wrong forum but thanks again.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

There's a Harvest forum?!? And a Cooking forum? Thrilled to find out about them, so I'm glad you made the "mistake" and posted here :) (Just found the Fig forum yesterday -- who knew?)

I second the recipe above, except I don't even chop the tomatoes, just mash them in the pot with a potato masher once they're cooked. And I'd also suggest a cast iron pot for the slow cooking -- more even heat. I cook it uncovered if I've thrown in a lot of non-sauce tomatoes so the liquid cooks off.

The only time I remove the skins from tomatoes is if I'm using ones I have frozen whole. These I plop into a colander and run cool water over, and the skins peel off easily. Fresh sauce in mid winter.

Okay, leaving to go to the harvest forum now.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I make my own sauce, partially because I always have, mostly because I'm allergic to onions. I was able to can my own tomatoes last year so I had BPA free whole tomatoes to use in the middle of Winter.

When I can, I do take out the seeds and skins, that's the way it's supposed to be. You're not wasting anything, sauce with skins and seeds isn't as good, and it's actually not that hard to de-skin and de-seed once you get the hang of it.

For my sauce, I take canned whole tomatoes and put them in the food processor. It's good to use roma tomatoes to can with because they're more firm. I canned heirloom ones too and they just don't hold as well.

Saute mushrooms in olive oil and a good amount garlic, add to saucy tomatoes. Put on stove to simmer.

I add oregano, lots of thyme (both of these can be fresh or dried) salt and pepper. Add whatever else you want, meat (I live with vegetarians), peppers, onions, etc.

NO SUGAR! I have no idea why anybody needs to add any sweetener to pasta sauce.

The longer I cook it, the thicker it gets, but I usually don't let it cook long (like 30 min) and and my sauce isn't particularly sticky. I'm sure if I had the patience or was doing large batches for canning for later I'd let it thicken up. Like maybe put it in the crock pot for the day or something, I'm just always in a rush and like the fresher taste.

I'll have to explore the cooking forums...I know way more about cooking than I could ever know about gardening :)


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It's goin

That's what got me started on this - someone mentioned "real pasta sauce" has no sugar. So I'd always look on the labels. Then last week for the millionth time, looking at price per ounce, and sales, and the 30+ different types of pasta sauce, I said why not just buy some tomatoes and do it myself..

So it's on the stove right now. Definitely not adding sugar :).

Just like everything else...investing in the stock market...fixing your car...doing your lawn..making your own food from scratch...it's all better if possible, and it's probably cheaper...well, I don't know about the pasta sauce, but any mere additional expense is worth it in light of plastic hormone mimics in my food etc..

Did you know they put flame retardants in soda so the ingredients stay intact? Wtf? And they found factory farm chickens with caffeine and prozac in them? What is this world coming to..


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

hooray - I am astonished you couldn't find a recipe for what is a very basic sauce. Did you Google 'fresh tomato sauce'? I just did and even just looking at the first 6 of the many results not one uses ketchup, canned tomatoes or any other ready made product.

There are reasons why people remove the skins and seeds. Some don't like the texture and others find the sauce becomes bitter to their taste if they are left in. If you don't want to do that just use the entire tomatoes.

There is also a reason for removing the skins using boiling water. If you've ever tried peeling a tomato you will discover that it is not easy. The boiling water method is used because it works.

Here is a link that might be useful: Basic tomato sauce


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I searched homemade/scratch tomatoe sauce, red the first 3 or 4 I saw, said F this, and decided to just make my own recipe. I think it was more of the repulsion of 'scratch' recipes using canned tomatoes/paste more than the availability of true scratch recipes that ended in me not seeing them or stopping.

I understand some people don't want the skins, I myself don't mind and also see it as a waste of time/energy. The boiling method/ice method work and that's great but I feel like it's a waste of precious resources for very little finicky gain. I'm still trying to convert my gf into accepting chunky tomato sauce so I understand some people don't like it, to each their own =)


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I have read somewhere before a large amount of seeds will make the sauce bitter. Plus they are not fun to eat in the sauce so I always take seeds and skin out as much as I can.

The trick to add flavor to sauce that I have found is to sautee finely chopped onion until it is slightly caramelized, add chopped garlic, then add fresh tomato (skinned without seeds) and then cook down for 2 hours on low simmer. Then salt and a tiny amount of sugar can be added to it. That is my basic recipe but I also add fresh thyme when I have them. I think long low cooking really results in a more flavorful sauce.

When my mother in law makes tomato sauce, she puts cans of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste in a big pot, adds some onion and garlic and simmer for 2 hours. It actually is a good sauce although still not as good as ones from fresh tomatoes. But not everyone has the time to grow fresh tomatoes and buying them at the market can get expensive. I often feel fortunate that I have the time to grow my own food.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

A tiny bit of sugar moderates the acidity of the tomatoes. If you don't like regular sugar, you can grate in a carrot or two since they have natural sugars. Carrots cook down and are not observable.

I think the reason people add tomato paste is because the sauce can seem watery unless it is cooked for a long time, and tomato paste thickens it nicely.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Yes, HFOrganic, there is a cooking forum under the Home section and some of those folks are some pretty serious cooks. They let dufuses like me hang out there as well. You will be happy to know that they reccomend doing pretty much as you suggest. It is a good forum to check out after you have some produce in your hands.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato sauce link from last year


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I preserve what tomatoes we don't eat fresh from the garden, so it does get rendered down to chunks, sauce or juice. In season, most generally I do make my marinara sauce from fresh tomatoes. I skin mine, but don't worry about seeds. Some people cannot eat the seeds if they have certain digestive conditions and are a seed free diet and must remove seeds. I simply don't like skins on tomatoes and cooking makes them tougher. I don't frown on people who will put a small can of paste into a pot of fresh or home canned tomatoes because it still beats buying processed pasta sauce since it does not contain 'thickener'or a lot of the other junk. Look at the labels on pasta sauce you think is simmered down, or soups and see if it isn't hastened along with something like corn starch.

Who cares what you add to your freshly made sauce like salts or sugars or spices? It's a matter of taste and preference and indeed all tomatoes are not created equal for sweetness. Some have little natural sugars and they are actually often the best tasting, old fashioned varieties. The newer ones are lower acid and bland. One often has to add a little sugar to the sauce on a really heady, high acid tomato.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Thanks again for all the help. I do now see the reason for putting sugar in sauce, and now understand that it basically comes down to preference/taste. I'd originally gathered that it was some kind of unnecessary addition but turns out it depends on who you ask!


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I remove the seeds before I make scratch tomato sauce because I can detect the bitter taste that they impart. I run all the gel and seeds through the mill, though, so only the seeds are removed and not all the good juices. Tomato skins in the sauce don't bother me.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I put stevia leaves in the marinara sauce and it turned out better than any I had ever purchased. Natural, homegrown, no calorie sweetener that way. I envy any of you who are making sauce with fresh tomatos this time of year...... Mine are two months away.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Fri, May 4, 12 at 20:47

My mother, who still processes about one ton every late august (yes, big family), uses a tomato strainer that you can buy on the Burpee's site. She cooks the tomatoes in a big pot (20 gallons or so, outdoors of course), until soft, then the machine does the separation. On one end of a funnel come the skin and seeds, on the outside of the funnel the mashed pulp oozes and is collected into a bucket. Her much lazier son quickly blanches the tomatoes, fishes them out with a colander, and freezes them in large ziploc bags.

Beat this, for an easy tomato sauce (serves 4, but available only Aug. 15- Sept. 30): in a blender blend 8 fresh San Marzano tomatoes (accept no substitutes), 8 garlic cloves, a handful of fresh basil leaves, salt to taste, 4 tbsp of olive oil. Add this sauce to 1lb of spaghetti, mix and serve.

Skin and seeds are good if you need a little roughage, but if your diet is rich in fiber, it is best to give them to the chickens or into the compost pile. We can not digest them.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

My grandmother who came over on a boat from Italy ALWAYS made her pasta sauce from scratch and ALWAYS put a little bit of sugar in it to balance the acid of the tomatoes. I do the same. I don't think it's wrong. Don't put the whole sugar pot in, but a little bit to balance the acid makes it feel less...astringent.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Hooray, you could be me, every word you said, especially "being a skeptical and cynical idealist of a purist". It feels like I'm swimming against the current all the time.

When I've got garden tomatoes I make a very casual fresh tomato sauce, skin, seeds, and all. The sauce is a lot thinner than typical sauces b/c I like it fresh and zingy, and don't cook it long. But we love it. It's not the thick stuff that covers up your pasta, it's a whole different animal. But it's REAL and it's FRESH and delicious. (I even make it with cherry tomatoes sometimes, just cut 'em in half.) Add a little garlic, olive oil and basil, and voila!

I buy Italian brands of canned whole tomatoes, the one canned product I eat. They're not lined with plastic. These cans probably aren't great either, but they've got to be better than the plastic-lined ones.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I'm not Italian, but I gave up on bottled sauces many years ago. Sometimes a roasted tomato sauce is really nice; the roasting deepens the tomato flavor. Most often my sauce is simple:

chop up celery, carrot, garlic and onion or shallot as small as possible, cook in olive oil till softened - do not burn. add tomatoes, season to taste with salt, pepper and herbs. If we want meat in the sauce, I brown up italian style turkey sausage with the vegies. Cook to desired consistancy.

I use carrot to sweeten instead of sugar, I remove as many seeds as possible by squeezing the tomatoes but do not remove the skins. I throw the tomatoes in a food processor; if any skins are noticeable after processing, I can pick them out. The skins have the most health benefits in them so why remove them?! I add the carrot, etc. not only for flavor they add, but for the consistancy as well. I can get a thicker appearing sauce without cooking it down as far.

In the fall, I bottle (can) my tomatoes plain, whole or food processor processed, and then just dump in a bottle or two when I make sauce. If I run out of my own tomatoes, I stock up on the canned whole ones when on sale.

Sauce is so simple, at least my non-conventional way is, I can throw it all together quite quickly and it is soooo much better than any jar!


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Someone mentioned that homemade sauce can seem watery, and my solution to that, if I don't want to cook it down or thicken it is to only partially cook the pasta, then finish cooking it in a pan of the hot sauce. The pasta absorbs the liquid from the sauce, leaving it thick and well stuck to the noodles. This also works for store sauce.

I don't really store sauce, per se, but rather just the cooked down tomato juice and pulp which I at cooking time can turn into a wider variety of sauces and soup bases.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I'm not sure if I agree with the original poster. I grew up with two sets of italian grandparents, straight off the boat, and they used canned tomatoes all the time to make the gravy (or sauce if you like) They are just skinned whole tomatoes. They removed the seeds too (nothing like getting a seed stuck in your teeth while trying to enjoy Sunday dinner) My mother and all of my aunts still make it the same way today. And it is better than 99 percent of sauces I have ever had at a restaurant.

If they can get fresh tomatoes, they will use them, but they won't go out of their way to find them. But this is how my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother have been doing it for decades, and there is nothing wrong with it in any way whatsoever. Do you really think every family in Italy is running around every week buying fresh tomatoes to make Sunday dinner?


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Eh. I tried the seeds and I didn't mind or notice them. The bitter thing, who knows, I didn't experience it but I only simmered for 30 mins and was satisfied.

The canned thing is more of the principle. I like bypassing giving my money to someone else for canning, when it's just as easy for me to go to the store and just grab some tomatoes. No need for aluminum waste, or for someone else to process the tomatoes before I get my hands on it. It's nice to go to a farmer's market or even the grocery store and just simply get some tomatoes and go from there.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

At least most canned tomatoes are actually ripe and have flavor...unlike many (very many) store bought tomatoes, even paste tomatoes. I'm not a fan of how variable in taste canned tomatoes can be depending on when they canned them and what fields they came from. Some brand's tomatoes taste totally different every few months because they're only buying what's on the market cheap rather than holding quality control over the type of tomato grown and it's conditions for growth.

Cooking large batches of "general" tomato sauce and freezing them is awesome. You can add bulky/chunk additions to frozen blocks of sauce pretty easily when you reheat so you don't have to freeze mushy veggies into it. You can get silicon baking sheets/pans that hold 2-4+ person sized servings and freeze up blocks for the freezer.

IMO, the key to a faster cooking tomato sauce from a fresh source starts with the tomato you pick for the job. If you choose a slicer tomato over a paste tomato it's going to take longer to cook...if you don't remove the seeds/gel it's going to take longer to cook. Compost if you can and you don't have to worry about wasting anything. The skins hurt nothing, but people generally leave those out because of the mouth-feel of a chunk of slimy tomato skin...it's harmless to the taste of the sauce, imo.

The person suggesting throwing a thin/quick tomato sauce into a pan finished pasta is right on. There's a lot of gluten/flour thickening going on that will get your sauce to stick to the pasta itself as well as thickening the residual sauce surrounding the pasta.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

  • Posted by bcskye 5 Brn.Co., IN (My Page) on
    Sat, May 5, 12 at 23:43

I have canned and otherwise preserved food for over 45 years. I like to know what is and isn't in my food. I'm also devoted to the Harvest and Cooking forums on Gardenweb. When I do pasta sauce, or tomato sauce in general, I use my Victorio strainer to remove the seeds and peels. My husband has a severe digestive system problem and I just don't like the curled up little pieces of skin. My strainer strains out the skin and seeds as dry as can be and I have excellent sauce. I do add some finely grated carrots in the sauce to give it a deeper depth of flavor. I don't condemn anyone who likes the seeds and peels in their's and if they want to put other additives in, that's their choice. As for sugar, I don't use it because we are both diabetic, but that is everyone's personal choice. Oh, the skins and the seeds are not wasted. I grow a variety of heirloom tomatoes so I save seeds and the skins go out for the other creatures who enjoy them. They need to eat, too. I combine a variety of tomatoes, too. Just like some people's trash is another's treasure, so are the recipes they use.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Freezing? Really? One person posted freezing tomato sauce and another freezing whole tomato's. What? I had always heard that tomato's don't freeze well which is course why I figured I never saw frozen tomato sauce in the grocery store.

Seeds - I always cringe when I see cooks and chef's on tv just gutting the whole tomato and just using the flesh. OMG all the flavor is in the juice and gell! Since its hard to separate that from the seeds I just go with the seeds. I cut up tomato's and plop it all in the blender for gazpacho. Is there a way to preserve gazpacho (one of my all time favorite things). If you have a special contraption that separates that's cool. I wonder if a ricer would work?

I would be a first time preserver of any type so this thread interested me. Guess at the point I have some tomato's to preserve I'll take it to the Harvesst? thread.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I second the not ripe tomatoes vs canned. I understand your thought process in "they aren't very fresh" but those toms have to be red to be canned. Better than the green picked watery things we call tomatoes today.

I would find this statement completely different if you were growing your own? Then it makes sense as those are some good toms and you have surplus you need to use up.

I also don't like skin or seeds.

For freezing I have thrown tomatoes in the freezer when they were going to go bad in a few days but I didn't have time to make sauce. I do believe that freezing makes the texture more mealy.

My grandparents also use canned toms too, and I do as well if toms aren't growing in my garden. I don't like buying toms in winter cause they taste like nothing.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

I may or may not have been one of those who mentioned freezing (too lazy to go back and find my post), but I do freeze sauce as does my Mom. If you think about it, you see frozen tomatoes and sauce all the time, it's just usually part of a frozen entree or pizza. Some high end Italian stores have plastic tubs of frozen sauce, too. I use the fruit and veg strainer attatchment on my KitchenAid to remove skins and seeds from my sauce. I don't like the skins because they always seem to end up stuck on my teeth!


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, May 6, 12 at 14:36

Lots of ways to make pasta sauce. I think my favorite is uncooked. We have it twice a week during Sun Gold harvest.

For a cooked sauce I do like in the link Flora provided, but I don't cook it more than 30 minutes.

Another fast and easy "sauce" is this one ... also using Sun Golds, but it works with plum tomatoes too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pasta with Sun Gold Tomatoes


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Pomi

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, May 6, 12 at 14:57

Btw, you can buy Pomi strained and chopped tomatoes in tetra packs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pomi


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tomato paste

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, May 6, 12 at 14:59

And tomato paste in a tube. Those are typically my choices when I don't have fresh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amore tomato paste


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

For canning, I remove skins and seeds. For cooked, fresh sauce, I use the whole tomato and my stick blender to pur�e after cooking.
I make a thick, thick sauce with wine, garlic, onions, basil and no sugar for canning. I basically use a recipe from a book called Small Batch. I'm careful not to make any unsafe changes or modifications. I like adding some crushed fennel seed.
I often freeze tomatoes until I get enough for a canner load. Skin slips off easily and they lose a bunch of water as they defrost, making less cooking time.
I cook mine in large crock pots for 8-12 hours.
Fresh sauce, everything goes, depending on my mood but is basically garlic, onions, oregano, basil, red wine and crushed fennel seeds. Lots of flat-leaf parsley and celery if I have it from the garden.


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RE: Skeptical about home made pasta sauce

Freezing expands water in tissues (fruit/veg/meat). When they defrost this leaves "poked holes" into the tissue as well as leaving air/liquid pockets from where the crystals melted.

This can act as a kind of a brute-force tenderizer in meat/veg/fruits, but in some (many) cases it can also turn them to various degrees of mush.

Aside from "chunks" in a sauce, the freezing of a simple tomato sauce shouldn't be an issue with taste/texture as long as it's sealed properly and used before it becomes freezer burnt.


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