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Old 12-14-2002, 12:17 AM   #21
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There were a lot of very good and interesting suggestions, but the first answer I thought of when reading the original question has to do with the garlic. Be sure you don't over cook your garlic as this will definately cause a bitter taste. Also, the purpose of the simmering of the sauce is to carmalize the sugars in the tomatoes and this is usually done over a period of several hours, but several days? I have to wonder if there is another chemical reaction going on, causing the off taste. Like Regina said, if you want to thicken the sauce, use tomato paste. As far as the baking soda, it does neutralize the pH (reducing acidity) which will help those with stomachs sensitive to spice
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Old 12-14-2002, 12:20 PM   #22
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docpat - I totally forgot about the garlic issue. Thanks for your input. I've only known one person that cooked their sauce 2 days. They got the recipe from some little Italian lady. I've never been that patient though. By the time it was supposed to be done it would be gone from tasting it!!

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Old 01-12-2004, 05:15 AM   #23
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Key to a nice tomato sauce (one of the 5 mother sauces)...is really good tomatoes...since you're harvesting from your backyard, I would suggest letting get a bit over-ripe first, or you can even oven roast them for a bit more flavor. If you want out of this world sauce however, use ONLY San Marzano Tomatoes (imported from Italy...make sure to get the real deal though! I prefer La Valle brand, although I've heard La Belle are great as well)

Second tip...add your herbs and seasonings at the VERY end of the cooking cycle...like the last hour or so. Overcooking herbs will make their flavor less noticeable (has to do with the oils in the herbs) Don't do this with garlic unless you want it strong. If you want it mild, throw it in at the onset.

Third tip...very briefly..like no more than a minute or so, lightly saute any dry herbs in just a slight bit of oil before adding them to the sauce...this brings out the flavor.

Fourth tip...make sure to saute the sausage before adding it to the sauce, and be sure to grab all that wonderful fond off the bottom...TONS of flavor there (that's why Emeril calls it yum-yums)

Happy Saucing :)
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Old 01-12-2004, 05:22 AM   #24
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One..ok two other things :)

Roast your garlic...adds tonssssssss of flavor

Second...Baking soda users...too much and you've got a nice chalky taste..yum...just like licking a blackboard ;)

Happy Saucing :)
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Old 08-28-2004, 09:10 PM   #25
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I am a gardener (first) and enjoy cooking. I have had the "bitter sauce" problem. I believe there are two or three causes of bitterness. First, use vine ripe tomatoes. Underripe fruit does not have the blend of sweetness and acidity to taste "right". In general, under ripe tomatoes are very acidic. Extra salt will help but it will never taste right. If vine ripe tomatoes are being used, bitterness is probably the result of too little acid. The major cause of this is seeding the tomatos by squeezing out the seeds and "jell" that surrounds them. The jell (not the seeds) contains the acid. To fix bitter sauce caused by a lack of acid, add lemon juice to taste. It will not be perfect but the bitterness will be reduced. To get rid of the seeds but not the jell, use a colander designed to remove seeds and skin from tomatoes. Lastly, never cook tomatoes in an aluminum pot.
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Old 08-28-2004, 09:22 PM   #26
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I just can't believe you guys!!!!! I use fresh tomatoes all the time to make sauce - romas preferably - what you forgot was the wine!!! That balances out both sugars and acidity in tomato sauce.

When I have an over-abundance of Roma tomatoes I don't even peel them before I freeze them...just make sure they are clean and pop them into the food-saver bag and into the freezer. Then when you thaw them the skins nearly fall off (though I am known to throw the skins in too).

Another trick to sweeten tomato sauce without sugar (and I never use sugar in tomato sauce) is to throw a pork chop, bone in, into the sauce. When the sauce is done everyone fights over the chop 'cause it's sooooo good!

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Old 08-29-2004, 01:31 AM   #27
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I only skimmed the posts, so not sure if it's been mentioned or questioned.

What kind of pot are you using? I know if you use a bare aluminum pot, the flavor of a tomato based sauce will turn bitter.
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Old 08-29-2004, 11:08 PM   #28
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hi ewokroub,
i make sauce several times a year; from fresh tomatoes in the summer and fall, and organic canned tomatoes in the winter and spring. i used to put a little sugar in the sauce to sweeten it up, but as a way to reduce my refined sugar intake, i took advice from an old italian friend (i adopted him as my grandfather) and started browning (carmelizing) the onions, peppers, garlic and meats before adding them to the sauce. this brings out the natural sugars within them and this really helps cut the acidity of the sauce. oh, do be careful not to burn anything when you are browning it, especially the garlic. burnt bits will make the sauce bitter. the flavor of the sauce also depends on how ripe and what type of tomatoes you use. tomtaoes that have been completely ripened on the plant are naturally sweeter. roma or plum tomatoes are best for sauce, as the flesh to water ratio is higher than say big boys or early girls. if you've used tomatoes that have that odd effervescent taste (i have experienced that before), try adding a cup or so of a good hearty wine. this will give it deeper body. if you still want it sweeter, try browning some carrot slices and tossing 'em in. well, i hope this helps. good luck with your next pot of sauce.
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Old 08-29-2004, 11:28 PM   #29
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Personally, I don't want the sugar to caramelize. I like the rich taste of the sauce and herbs.

You will still need to cook the tomatoes for a couple of hours to break them down into a sauce, but here's my secret.

Have you ever noticed that tomatoe based sauces are always better after being refridgerated for a night, the famed next day leftover sauce. That's because while the sauce sits in the ice-box, the various oils and flavor molecules disperse thorughout the sauce equally. The sauce becomes a rich mixture of complimentary flavors.

Whenever you cook sauces for extended periods of time, you take a chance on burning the natural sugars on the pan bottom. This adds bitterness. And, as has been said, garlic cooked too long becomes bitter, again because of the high sugar content of the plant. The same is true of onion, a cousing to garlic. They are both in the liliy family.

Bitter and soapy flavors are the result of an alkaline ph, while sour means acidity. I would never add baking soda to my sauce. I don't like the flavor. I prefer to let osmosis to the work of properly blending the flavors for me.

Hope this helps.

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Old 08-07-2005, 11:06 PM   #30
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Hey there! I've found that if you over-cook garlic it gets SUPER bitter, and that bitterness does tend to permeate throughout your sauce and/or food. Maybe that has something to do with it? Also, you might want to try adding some salt?
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Old 08-09-2005, 12:07 PM   #31
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Hope this isn't too late to help.

I always make fresh tomato sauce with my garden grown tomatoes and it is never bitter. First, cut your tomatoes in half through the equator then squeeze out all the seeds! Tomato seeds and the surrounding pulp ARE both bitter and have to be removed. Lindatoo is also correct. There are certain flavinoids (flavor compounds) in tomatoes that are only soluble in alcohol. Wine, cognac, even vodka can be used to extract these components and they give a roundness to the sauce that you will miss if it isn't there.
Additionally, I ROAST my tomatoes before I make them into sauce. Removes some unnecessary moisture and really brings out the flavor.
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Old 08-09-2005, 12:22 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by ewokroub
I wish I would have thought about the fact that my when testing the water in my aquarium for PH balance there is a solution for PH Up and PH Down! Like Leigh said about counteracting the acid with soda that possibly adding more acid would count- eract the soda! :confused: BUT (there always seems to be a but) I wonder if that might have enhanced some of the chemical-like taste that too much soda seems to give!

I do know that after all the work to making the fresh tomato spag sauce, in this case, was definitely NOT worth it! I think if I have a bumper crop of tomatoes again, I might do well to learn to can them and that might take care of the acid problem, otherwise....Hunt's Whole Tomatoes in the vegetable aisle are looking pretty darn good and as close to "Fresh Homemade" sauce that I will ever need to be!!!!:D
I think the key might be that you used all your ingredients from the beginning. It might work better to cook the tomatoes first until they are all soft and mushy. When I make sauce I cook my onions and celery until just softening, add garlic and cook until all soft, then add the (cooked or canned) tomatoes and cook for a while longer. This gives the veggies a chance to meld together, and the sweetness to come out of the caramelizedonions and celery. Then you check to see how acidic it is and add your seasonings. Cooking oregano for a long time will definitely make it bitter, as it will with green peppers--these are best left for the end. The baking soda can be added just at the end after you have cooked the sauce to the desired doneness. I never cook mine for more than three or four hours, and then add a pinch of soda only if it's too sharp tasting. A little sugar or corn syrup can adjust for the sweetness level. That's it for me.
If I'm making Spaghetti sauce, I add the ground beef at the beginning with the onions and drain off the extra fat before adding anything else. If I use sausage, (I like the sweet) I cook it separately, browning it then heating it done in a little sauce, and put it on the pasta then add more sauce for serving.
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Old 08-09-2005, 02:04 PM   #33
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use grated carrots as a sweetener
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Old 08-09-2005, 05:48 PM   #34
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ground fennel seed is a natural sweetener...the spice in sweet Italian sausage. However, the bitter taste is from the acidic tomatoes. Roasting them first is a great technique and can help a lot.
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Old 11-09-2007, 03:28 AM   #35
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Bitter Tomato Sauce

I was just having the same problem -- I had peeled all my ripe "last of the season ripened-under-newspaper" tomatoes and simmered them for a few hours, seasoning and tasting frequently. The sauce kept getting more bitter. I knew that I should have removed the seeds before cooking. But, I was able to strain them out at the end and rescue the sauce. Hating to waste any of my hard-earned produce, next year I'll dedicate a much larger portion of my garden to Roma tomatoes which don't need to be seeded and are much better for sauce.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:19 PM   #36
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bitter tmatoes sauce

hi ..just done the same as you..had loads of tomatoes this year and thought id make a sauce added some herbs etc...sugar also ..thinking it would be bitter ..but even after the sugar it still tastes bitter ...so checked on line and found this..lol...and saw that really u need to take the seeds out first!!!..well at least i know for next time...thankyou ..you learn something every day dont you ..
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:12 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by mudbug View Post
use grated carrots as a sweetener
I totally agree, mudbug. We learned in school that carrot cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and if you puree your soup (with an immersion blender or food mill, never a food processor or the tomatoes are over processed and change colour), no one even knows the carrot is there. The carrots work for spaghetti sauce as well.

In reverse, if you are making carrot soup you would add acidity with something like a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice. It really heightens the flavour.
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