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Old 01-02-2020, 04:17 PM   #1
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How to thicken up pasta/marinara sauce

I'm curious for any tips to thicken up your typical glass jar pasta/marinara sauce (Rao's, Classico, etc.). Would corn starch do the trick without changing the flavor too much? Mine always comes out too thin and would like to thicken it up more. I appreciate any cooking tips in this regard.

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Old 01-02-2020, 04:40 PM   #2
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Cook a couple tablespoons of tomato paste in olive oil, then add the sauce and simmer it for 15-20 minutes to reduce the liquid and let the flavors mingle. This will also add a more savory flavor to the sauce.
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Old 01-02-2020, 04:58 PM   #3
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Use less water to cook your pasta, and after cooking it, add some of the water to your sauce. The starch in the pasta water is an excellent thickening agent for your sauce.

Note that if you heavily salt your pasta water, cut back on adding salt to your sauce.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:17 PM   #4
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I think the tomato paste and starchy water are solid suggestions. I'm going to certainly trial and error with those.
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Old 01-02-2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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Just keep track of your salt. Adding the pasta water won't change anything other than the seasoning that went into it. I am not a fan of most tomato pastes as they are highly acidic and not usually of the character of your sauce. Just cook it down rather than adding another ingredient... provided you're happy with your sauce.
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Old 01-02-2020, 06:13 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
Just keep track of your salt. Adding the pasta water won't change anything other than the seasoning that went into it. I am not a fan of most tomato pastes as they are highly acidic and not usually of the character of your sauce. Just cook it down rather than adding another ingredient... provided you're happy with your sauce.
I must admit I haven't used commercial tomato paste in years because I made quite a bit a few years ago using paste tomatoes from my garden, so I'm not familiar with the flavor. However, note that the OP is asking how to thicken commercial pasta sauce. Since it's generally already well-seasoned, I wouldn't add salty pasta water to it. I know you said to reduce the salt in the water, but that also reduces the seasoning of the pasta itself. And it requires cooking down the sauce in order to leave the starch and reduce the water added. It's easier just to cook it down from the beginning and not add starchy salt water.
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Old 01-02-2020, 10:23 PM   #7
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I have thickened some tomato sauces in the past by using a little bit of corn starch and water. Still came out fine.
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Old 01-03-2020, 02:49 AM   #8
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You can add cooked and mased carrot to you sauce, or bind it with a roux maye with 2 tbs. olive oil, and 2 tbs. flour. Season the roux with fresh basil, garlic, saute'd onion, nd oregano, and maybe a bit of rosemary. Thin the roux with your tomato sauce until it forms a paste. Add this to your tomato sauce. It will thicken nicely.

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Old 01-03-2020, 02:59 AM   #9
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Just let it simmer longer. Simmering removes water, thereby reducing the quantity and consistency of the sauce.
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Old 01-03-2020, 11:12 AM   #10
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Just let it simmer longer. Simmering removes water, thereby reducing the quantity and consistency of the sauce.
Like I said...
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Old 01-03-2020, 11:44 AM   #11
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One tome, I got it in my head that I was going to make the best pasta sauce I'd ever made. BI had read multiple recipes, and had heard about the Italian wives who simmered their sauce all day, and how it made the sauce so rich and good. I started my sauce the night before, seasoning it just right. I transfered it to the slow cooker and let it simmer while I slept. When I woke, the house smelled amazing. With great anticipation, I tried the sauce. To my dissapointment, it was very bland. All of those wonderfula aomatic herb and spice flavors had evaporated. This sauce was for a pot luck at work
I reseasoned it and took it to work. When I got there, I again simmered the sauce until linch time. When lunch came, everyone told me how great it smelled. Again it was bland.

The moral of this story is that simmering breaks down the fresh tomatoes, and will tenderise the meat. Hoever, herbs and spicrs are best added in the last 20 minutes of cooking time. And remember, some of the flavors must be extracted in hot oil as they are fat soluble.

I have found that after the sauce has the consistancy and flavor you want, placing it in a covered container, and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight, will allow the flavors to blend, giving you an outstanding sauce. So be careful with long simmers. They have their purpose. Just don't cook away the flavor.

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Old 01-03-2020, 12:06 PM   #12
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Some good thoughts here. As GotGarlic mentioned my aim here is to thicken ready to go glass jar sauce (i.e. Rao, Ragu, Classico, etc). Other times I do make it more from scratch (canned san marzano), so some of those tips will certainly help.
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:17 PM   #13
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My initial thoughts were basically what GG recommended.
- Tomato paste
- Cook a little longer with lid off ( make sure to stir and scrape bottom of pot to avoid sticking and burning.

If you used a chunky sauce, taking a small portion out and blending it up, then returning it to the rest of the sauce may help too.
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Old 01-03-2020, 02:06 PM   #14
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I made a pot of sauce just last night and I've never used any thickeners. The longer you cook it with the lid off, the thicker it will become.
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Old 01-03-2020, 03:12 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
I made a pot of sauce just last night and I've never used any thickeners. The longer you cook it with the lid off, the thicker it will become.

In addition, it will take less time to reduce your sauce if you put it in a skillet to simmer.
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Old 01-04-2020, 11:40 PM   #16
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My son makes spaghetti sauce every Thursday for his work crew. He said he thickens his sauce with a handful of crumbled potato chips. The chips dissolve and thicken the sauce. I have to say his was a good idea that works. I can't take credit for it.
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ScottinPollock View Post
I am not a fan of most tomato pastes as they are highly acidic and not usually of the character of your sauce. .

Have to heartily disagree with you there.

I haven't used a tomato paste, supermarket or high end, that seemed remotely acidic. And all were very much in the character of a jarred tomato sauce.
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:05 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by portlandsonics View Post
I'm curious for any tips to thicken up your typical glass jar pasta/marinara sauce (Rao's, Classico, etc.). Would corn starch do the trick without changing the flavor too much? Mine always comes out too thin and would like to thicken it up more. I appreciate any cooking tips in this regard.
No, no, no to thickening tomato sauce with corn starch!!

1. Reduce it.
2. Tomato paste
3. Pasta water plus #1 above
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:35 PM   #19
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I do think you have to be careful with the tomato paste. I use it all the time to thicken, but there does come a point where the sauce can taste more tomato pasty than the actual original taste you are working with. Still a fixable situation, but more work.

I like doing what GG suggested ( second post). kinda frying the tomato paste up in a little olive oil first, then adding the other sauce ( or if making sauce from scratch , the liquid ingredients). Kinda gives it that sitting in the pot all day taste, and takes away the typical tomato paste out of a can flavor.

I dont like pre herbed/ spiced tomato paste, just tomato for me. And I too have not really found any varieties that were acidic.
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Old 01-06-2020, 02:58 PM   #20
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I put my sauce if making from can tomatoes In the oven to reduce. I don't have to worry about it burning on top of the stove. I just stir in here and there. cooks down nice and thick


When I do from fresh tomatoes, I cut them into large pieces put them on a sheet pan with sides on it or a deep baking dish, add some cut up onion, green pepper if you want, a couple cloves of garlic chopped. season with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil mixed them all up and I put it in on 350 and bake till all water from them is gone and them come out great. Toss all of it into food processer add some fresh basil. and you have a nice thick sauce.
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