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Old 07-09-2011, 10:17 AM   #1
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Help With Spaghetti Suace

I tried to make my own spaghetti sauce. I chopped and blended some tomatoes in the blender and then simmered them for about an hour. Instead of tomato sauce I ended up with what looked like shredded tomato skins. Did I just not cook it long enough?

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Old 07-09-2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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You could use a food mill, if you had one.



If not, you need to peel the tomatoes. Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato and drop them into boiling water for about 1 minutes Remove them from the water and shock them with ice water. Once they have cooled completely, simply remove the skin with your fingers.
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Old 07-09-2011, 11:19 AM   #3
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Fresh tomatoes aren't the best tomato to use to make spaghetti sauce. Canned, whole tomatoes give you a better and more consistent product for making sauce. They are sweeter and have more flavor than most fresh tomatoes. Even the experts on the Food Network, Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen generally agree on this one.

But if you use fresh tomatoes, Roma tomatoes are the best, and as Sir_Loin_of_Beef pointed out, you need to blanche them and remove their skin before processing them into sauce.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:03 PM   #4
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that's interesting. I wonder where "the experts on the Food Network, Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen" think those tomatoes in the can come from.... hmmmm.

to make good homemade sauce you need good tomatoes. the wooden grocery store variety just don't fit the bill. frankly I would not waste the time and effort if that's all that is available.

get some good local vine ripe tomatoes - and not all tomatoes taste the same - so get a few, chop 'em up and taste them before going overboard.

the canned tomatoes, crushed, diced, whole, sliced, whatever - usually have some salt, bunches of preservatives and other odd chemicals for some such reasons. those certainly 'change the flavor' - frankly I prefer to start with a tomato and work up from there.

one hour is not much in terms of cooking down tomatoes. it does depend very much on how much water was in the tomatoes to start with - which is why Romas are popular for sauce/paste - lots of meaty bits, not too much water.... takes me 3-4 hrs to cook down my garden tomatoes.

you can scald&peel them, de-seed them, whatever - I don't do any of that - quarter, season, cook down, re-season, then I use either a stick blender or run it thru a large hole strainer if I dis-want the seeds and skin bits. a food mill is handy if you have one.

homemade sauce from fresh tomatoes is light years ahead of starting with canned - depending on one's taste, of course....
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:43 PM   #5
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that's interesting. I wonder where "the experts on the Food Network, Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen" think those tomatoes in the can come from.... hmmmm... homemade sauce from fresh tomatoes is light years ahead of starting with canned - depending on one's taste, of course....
Canned tomatoes come from a specific variety grown to become canned, and are picked at the height of their flavor from their own farmers, rather than whenever the average grower has time to pick them. It doesn't take much forethought to realize that specialty farms grow a different product than an independent farmer.

And reading the label, you will see that some canners only add a minimal amount of salt... which is going into most sauce pots anyway, but some cans are "Added Salt Free." I prefer the organic variety with no additives.

Homemade sauce is only as good as the tomatoes themselves, which are seldom found in the average supermarket or even farmer's produce stand, because they are often picked too early and haven't developed their full flavor, even so-called vine-ripened. That means that the best fresh tomatoes are grown in your own garden... if you have one.

And the biggest advantage is being able to make good sauce year-round... even in the dead of winter.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:51 PM   #6
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Your right about that, Selkie; they are best from the garden. There is quite a difference. I do miss my vegetable garden but I can't see me trying to grow one on our boat!
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:08 PM   #7
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Have you seen those "Topsy Turvy" Tomato... things advertised on TV that hang upside down? If they work... they could work on a boat. But I've never tried one.
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:42 PM   #8
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Have you seen those "Topsy Turvy" Tomato... things advertised on TV that hang upside down? If they work... they could work on a boat. But I've never tried one.
Apparently they do work but I could just see the tomatoes dropping off when going on a cruise. I do have my fresh herbs though.
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:06 PM   #9
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Have you seen those "Topsy Turvy" Tomato... things advertised on TV that hang upside down? If they work... they could work on a boat. But I've never tried one.

We use one every year now. Gave up on a vegetable garden as the critters were enjoying the pre-harvest bounty before we could. Using the topsy-turvy above the ground saves the tomatoes for us. But you should have dozens for a decent harvest.
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:56 PM   #10
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I hate to say it, but I chime in with those who say that most of the time, canned tomatoes are the way to go for the long-cooked type of tomato sauce. Grocery store tomatoes really lack in flavor, but even home grown require a lot of work to not turn into a watery mess if you're a beginner. If you insist on "fresh" tomatoes (I don't see where you're from, but here it will still be another month before anything fresh appears, in grocery stores fresh simply means it isn't frozen or canned, but they are mostly from south of the border, picked green). But as someone already said, you need to peel the tomatoes. When my little crop comes in, I roast them -- that is to say, halve and seed them. The seeds go into a seive and I drain the liquid from them to use as juice or addition to soups. Then I put the tomato halves on a baking sheet along with some peppers (we like spicy food), sliced onions, whole garlic cloves, S&P, and a sprinkling of olive oil. 350 for about an hour, then through a food mill. If I have fresh basil & oregano, I chop it and stir it in at this point. Then I freeze. The idea is to sort of dry out the tomatoes, peppers and onions to concentrate the flavors.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:04 PM   #11
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No problem here. I buy my tomatoes from the same farmers that companies like Red Pack and Hunt's buy theirs.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:48 PM   #12
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My best friend used to use a blender instead of peeling her tomatoes. When we were roommates we had a big garden and she made lots of sauce. If you have a powerful blender with sharp blades it will take the peel down to nothing.

With that said, even though we vine ripened the tomatoes, I still prefer making sauce from canned, the flavor just seems better than what I have had from fresh. Maybe if we had just the right variety of plum tomatoes, it would have been better, but canned just seems to take less tweaking and is consistent from batch to batch.
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Old 07-09-2011, 04:49 PM   #13
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Hmmm...I haven't made sauce using canned tomatoes for more than 20 years. My spaghetti sauce is thick, tasty, and works. But, it is a lot of work. Because we grow a variety of tomatoes, I tend to use mostly the roma-type tomatoes for sauce. The Brandywines and other beefsteak varieties are too watery. To start the sauce, I skin and peel the tomatoes. Then I cook them down with garlic, lots of fresh basil, marjoram, greek oregano. I'd say I simmer them for 2 hours--spooning off the "juice". Then I puree the sauce--or not. I drain off any juice, I put everything back in the pot, with more herbs, and some frozen homemade tomato paste. I add the mushrooms, green pepper, etc., about 40 minutes before I consider the sauce done. I use fresh bay leaves. I think it is the quality of the ingredients and the slow cooking that is key. A friend makes hers in a roaster oven. Another makes hers in a crockpot. I'd say that all three of our sauces are pretty darned good if you like a thick spaghetti sauce. If you like one that is thinner--then my mom's way of doing spaghetti sauce using canned tomatoes probably would be the way to go.
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:06 PM   #14
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Our gravy is my M-I-L's it's rich and brown not red and smooth to the taste. We us a lot of dry wild mushrooms and the broth from them, herbs, garlic. onions; and about 2-4 pbs of beef cube,s stew meat, a chuck roast works as well. Some of the meat is then used in the gravy to thicken it we put the meat in the F/P blend then mix into the gravy. If any one is interested I'll post. Just ask.
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:47 PM   #15
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>>Canned tomatoes come from a specific variety grown to become canned, and are picked at the height of their flavor from their own farmers, rather than whenever the average grower has time to pick them. It doesn't take much forethought to realize that specialty farms grow a different product than an independent farmer.

interesting marketing spin, and it is true contract growers raise very the specified variety - but

commerical size tomato operations use tomatoes that
(1) ripen all at the same time
and
(2) can withstand mechanical harvesting
and
(3) can be on the bottom of a tractor-dump-trailer with 6-8 feet of tomatoes on top of them without turning into mush.

those are the commercial considerations, taste is entirely secondary, or thirdiary, or fiftythiary.

I have a can right here on my desk. big blue letters "NO SALT ADDED"

label sez:
Ingredients: Tomatoes, tomato juice, sugar, citric acid, calcium chloride, natural flavors.

well now.... calcium chloride is aka fake salt; no sodium, just tastes salty....
and why does a can of tomato need tomato juice and natural flavors?
and what's up with the tomato juice? if they have to cook it down to reduce the water content, why add back juice?

tomatoes from my garden and those I buy to put up my tomato stuff would never take the handling in a commerical plant. I've seen the double trailer loads lined up at the Modesto processing plant, dumping loads into a hopper - the tomatoes go bouncing up a cleated converyor belt.... they may be picked at the peak of their flavor - note there is no claim that the flavor is any good - it's just the peak of that particular rubber tomato variety.

>>which are seldom found in the average supermarket or even farmer's produce stand, because they are often picked too early and haven't developed their full flavor, even so-called vine-ripened.

indeed we have produce stands that drive to the big city wholesale market an bring back produce by the crate. that's not local produce - that's the same wooden stuff as in the stores - I don't shop there - if you can't get good local fresh tomatoes, buy canned ones.
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Old 07-09-2011, 05:58 PM   #16
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- if you can't get good local fresh tomatoes, buy canned ones.
or grow your own .
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Old 07-10-2011, 07:40 AM   #17
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>>grow you own
absolutely (g)! I've got about 1000 sq ft in garden - some 12 tomato - in fact picked the first ripe tomato Friday. it's a trick to get ripe tomatoes here by July 1....

but I don't want to grow nothing but tomatoes so when they are plentiful I buy them in half bushel baskets from the locals - sometimes I can get "seconds" for $1-2 / basket to supplement my freezer stock.
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:58 AM   #18
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Some good advice here already. Personally, I love fresh food but I think fresh tomatoes should be eaten as is, not cooked down for sauce.

I prefer good quality tinned tomatoes. I gently fry/sweat finely chopped onions or garlic (I tend not to use both as I find you cant differentiate between the garlic and onion). Once sweated, add a can or two of tomatoes and cook down gently for a while. Towards the end, season with sea salt and add fresh basil if you have it.

For a meat sauce, olive oil up to a decent heat, add meat, fry meat till bone dry, just before its bone dry add garlic, two mins later a glass or two of red wine and let that reduce for a min or two, once the wine has reduced by 1/3 or 1/2 just throw a can or so of tomatoes, reduce for a few mins. Add basil at end.

Always add the cooked pasta to the pan the sauce is in, not the other way around. When the pasta is cooked, drain well and add either a knob of butter or a few lugs of good olive oil (Or both) and season it with sea salt and white or black pepper.
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Old 07-10-2011, 12:26 PM   #19
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Being that we have over 300 tomato plants, and harvest them by the wheelbarrowful when we have a good season (the jury is still out on what the season will be like this year...I picked two cherry tomatoes yesterday and the orange variety--Carolinas? should be ready in 10 days or so), I'm all for making salsa, making tomato paste, dehydrating tomatoes, freezing tomatoes, and making the base for sauce (I add the meat when I am ready to use it, if I'm going to add meat). I use the same sauce for eggplant parmesean, lasagne, etc. And, to be honest, I prefer other things over spaghetti...if it was Monday, it was spaghetti night when I was growing up. I figure I ate my life-time quota of spaghetti before I hit puberty.
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