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Old 05-15-2005, 06:52 PM   #1
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My Spaghetti Sauce is Bitter: Calling all Chefs

Hey guys... those of you who have been following me know ive been makin a home made spaghetti sauce every sunday.. well..first time i've had it come out bitter was today. im trying to find out why, a couple of things i did differently

just so you know here is the sauces base, 1 large can of Muir Glen tomatoes, 6 oz paste, maybe 1/3 cup of Porcini Mushroom liquid(that i rehyrated them with

For one, i normally add 1/3 cup of red wine to my sauce. Today, i couldnt.

Today, i added in a few sprigs of fresh oregano at the start of the sauce simmering. maybe three tablespoons fresh oregano

is oregano bitter? WTF

the sauce simmered for around 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Another thing different - i used garlic salt (a lil) when simmerin the veggies, and garlic salt when browning the 1 pound of meat.

I forgot about this so i added a tablespoon of alessi sea salt to the sauce when it started simmering

why is my sauce bitter? no sweetener from the wine? too much salt?

maybe when i put the paste in with the veggies and darkened the paste before adding the can whole tomatoes, maybe i left the paste cook too long?

what makes it bitter?

maybe the whole sauce simmered too long is 2:15 too long? I usually simmer it until it turns into like a REAL thick meat sauce which usually takes 2 hours

any other tips?

please give all your info... thanks

bigleg

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Old 05-15-2005, 07:12 PM   #2
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I've had that problem before too, and never could quite put my finger on what it was.
I don't use wine, but I put some sugar in mine, so maybe that's what it was.

I never thought I'd see the day, but time and age change all things, and now I usually start with a good jarred sauce and "work with it".
Mrs. Temporiti, who taught me how to make sauce the way her mother taught her, is probably rolling in her grave.
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Old 05-15-2005, 08:44 PM   #3
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It could be the tomatoes or the paste. My sauce has some times been bitter and I make it the same way each time. I just throw in some brown sugar til it tastes right. (Don't know why brown instead of white sugar but thats what my mom did, so I do too.
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:06 PM   #4
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mylegs, it sounds like the sauce or paste may have burned. did you notice any blackened/burned stuff on the bottom of the pot, or did the paste get really dark?
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Old 05-16-2005, 01:16 AM   #5
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I find that fresh oregano has a very different flavor than dried. Not sure if it is bitter. Did you try adding a spoon or two of sugar?


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Old 05-16-2005, 04:00 AM   #6
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It may have been because you simmered the fresh oregano in the sauce for too long a period of time. Fresh herbs get bitter with overcooking so that may have contributed to the bitter taste. You should add the fresh herbs at the end, or no more than 5 minutes before you serve it.
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Old 05-16-2005, 06:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mylegsbig
Another thing different - i used garlic salt (a lil) when simmerin the veggies, and garlic salt when browning the 1 pound of meat... thanks bigleg
Burnt garlic is bitter. Possibly you burnt it when you browned the meat?
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Old 05-16-2005, 07:27 AM   #8
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I agree, fresh herbs and garlic cooked to long will make the sauce bitter.Brown sugar can help this problem tho. Just add a small amount at a time tho as it really sweetens it fast.
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Old 05-16-2005, 09:08 AM   #9
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I know for sure it wasn't the garlic friends. I've learned to be very careful with the garlic.

It must have been the large amount of Oregano burning over time. As i said it went close to 2 : 30 hours.

next time i will omit it. My sauce the past few weeks without these changes has been to die for.

Im going to stick with what works.

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Old 05-16-2005, 09:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironchef
It may have been because you simmered the fresh oregano in the sauce for too long a period of time. Fresh herbs get bitter with overcooking so that may have contributed to the bitter taste. You should add the fresh herbs at the end, or no more than 5 minutes before you serve it.
I think I've got to agree here... 2:30 seems like a REALLY long time to simmer spaghetti sauce. I almost always use dried herbs in my sauce as well. If I may, why did you simmer your sauce for so long? I don't think I've ever had one go over 1/2 an hour. I'm pretty un-versed in cooking method though, so is there some benefit to letting it cook that long?
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Old 05-16-2005, 11:58 AM   #11
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i simmer it so long because i like a very thick sauce, almost a meat paste. I also use a good amount of porcini mushroom water, so it has to cook down some.
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Old 05-16-2005, 12:12 PM   #12
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Go ahead and simmer for the 2.5 hours. When adding fresh herbs, hold them out until the last 30 minutes then add them. That will avoid their being a potential source of bitterness. Dry herbs can go in at the beginning.

I recommend going with fresh garlic or powder, not garlic salt. fresh gives you the best flavor. With garlic salt, you run the risk of making a dish too salty to get the amount of garlic you want.
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Old 05-17-2005, 12:21 AM   #13
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I agree. Somehow dried herbs can take the long cooking times but not fresh. If I look at my own cooking I use fresh herbs very differently than dried ones.


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Old 05-17-2005, 12:58 PM   #14
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Your oregano didnt burn, it just cooked too long.

Or you might have used Mexican oregano rather than Mediterranean. Mexican has a more assertive, bold flavor. Mediterranean is milder and sweeter.

Use dry herbs at the beginning and fresh at the end.

But keep experimenting with herbs. TASTE them before you use them though. You'll likely be disappointed with dill in the sauce, for example.

Try rosemary, parsley, thyme.

And fresh garlic unless the garlic is old or has a big sprout. Then the garlic can be bitter and off-tasting.

I keep some Penzey's garlic powder on hand in case I can't find decent garlic.
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Old 05-17-2005, 01:12 PM   #15
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My take on this problem is that the acidity built up...could be to long on the stove or extra acidity in the batch of canned tomatoes......If it happens in the future you might try adding a little baking soda and of course a little more sugar...GOOD LUCK

P.S. try a very small amount of fresh mint for an interesting addition...(very small amount)
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:10 PM   #16
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if you were using canned tomatoes- crushed or diced or whatever- read the ingredients on the label. Always buy tomatoes that don't have citric acid listed in the ingredient list- that always does it!

Most brands do, so look through all of them. I think rienzi is good. hope this helps.
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Old 05-28-2005, 06:44 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
mylegs, it sounds like the sauce or paste may have burned. did you notice any blackened/burned stuff on the bottom of the pot, or did the paste get really dark?
Im with Buck... the only time's I've gotten a bitter taste in something like that is when I toast the paste or sauce intentionally for some creole cooking.
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Old 05-28-2005, 07:09 AM   #18
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are you adding bay leaf? they can make foods bitter. take it easy on them if you do use 'em.
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Old 05-28-2005, 07:49 AM   #19
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hmmm, i've never experienced that with bay leaves luvs. the secret marinade for grilled pork chops that i've been working on has as it's main components lots of bay leaves, garlic, sweet sherry, and black rum. the chops were never bitter.

do you use dried or fresh bay? i've never used fresh. been trying to buy a small laurus nobilis tree.

lol, reading this thread shows how many of us have tackled the making of tomato sauces, and the lessons we've learned from mistakes.
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Old 05-28-2005, 08:26 AM   #20
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i read up on it, bucky, and it's definately a factor in bitterness. i didn't notice TILL i read about it, but they were so very correct about that. if you throw in too many bay leaves, it can ruin your dish. i use them very judiciously now.
http://www.bonus.com/contour/__conto...terms/5268.asp
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