When it comes to making your own tomato sauce the opinions can be overwhelming. Tomatto or Tomotto, the suggestions and voices from family or friends can vary greatly. And on top of that you have the celebrity chefs who also disagree sometimes. You know what I say? Everyone’s got an opinion. Well where I come from, we say it a little differently.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to tell you that this is not a recipe. Just some good tips to help out some that may help you. The amount or type of tomatoes you use is totally up to you. You can find many recipes online for making tomato sauce or if you want a basic recipe there is one in my cookbook. Got any questions about making some good food or tomato sauce just shoot me an email, or check out my free book called “Secret Ingredients”
A Few Tips – Make Your Own Tomato Sauce
Tip #1 Don’t Worry… Be Happy!
Make yourself happy okay? What I’m saying is that everyone’s taste buds are different. If you like basil in it then put it in. If you like pepper then put a pinch or two of that also. In the mood for some onions then throw them in also, what the heck. Personally I don’t like carrots in my tomato sauce but some others do, so you must do what makes you happy. You are the one who is going to eat it not me, unless you invite me for dinner. There are some basics though you should always stick to. And one of them is to “always” use quality tomatoes with a high quality flavor. No matter if they are grown in your garden or canned from Italy, never compromise on the most important ingredient of the tomato sauce.
Take care when cooking with oils. I’m starting to lean away from cooking with olive oil. Olive oil is a wonderful oil to use but it’s important to learn how to use it. Use a good quality olive oil and “do a taste test” with various types and brands. The sweeter the olive oil usually means its quality oil. You do not want real bitter or funky tasting oil. It will change the flavor or your recipes. Only a little bit of natural spice flavor is okay in olive oil. And don’t burn it. Different oils have different heat breakdown temperature limits. I like to use olive oil for a final topping or step. Lately, I use other oils such as sunflower or safflower during the cooking process when choosing not to use butter!
When starting a pot of tomato sauce you can always use a tablespoon or two of oil when sautéing onions or garlic for a minute before adding your tomatoes. Make sure the oil isn’t too hot and there is enough to cover all the garlic or onions if wanting those ingredients for your sauce. You definitely do not want to burn your garlic or onions, or you should start over. Have I had to start over? Of course. Everyone does. Yes even those famous celebrity chefs do. The phone rings you get distracted during that one minute something gets your attention that shouldn’t. Don’t get distracted during the most crucial part of your recipe.
Sunflower oil should do a fine job for flavor. You’re only using a small amount of it anyway and it has almost no taste. That is what you want. The taste should be coming from the garlic or onions. Plus oil can go rancid quickly. Some oil you buy in the store is already rancid, so be careful.
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If you want some quality olive oil flavor do what many chefs do and add it, by drizzling some as a final touch. Or you can always just use a light olive cooking oil when sautéing garlic and onion. You can find them in most stores and they’re called light for cooking. They have a light yellow color instead of the light green color that the typical virgin oils have. Virgin oil has a stronger flavor. Virgin olive oil is great for salads and dipping bread into.
So just try to remember that olive oil has a strong flavor. No experienced chef uses olive oil to make Chinese food or fried rice. It is too strong usually! And it’s mostly used for Italian, European or Mediterranean dishes.
Tip #3 Low
Always keep the heat on the lowest simmer when cooking tomato sauce. It’s okay; the first couple minutes to keep the heat at medium just to get things heated up but don’t forget to turn down quickly so that flame is at the lowest setting and cover the pot. If you don’t cover it the sauce will start to evaporate and maybe even burn at the bottom of the pot.
Tip #4 Stir
To avoid burning the sauce on the bottom of the pot, the oil will help a little, but you should always give the sauce a real good stir every 20 minutes or so.
Tip #5 Water
And don’t be afraid to add “an ounce” or two of water sometimes it won’t hurt. Just make sure you “do not” add two much water! It will make the sauce too watery. Don’t know what an ounce is? It is 2 tablespoons, or usually a small shot glass.
Tip #6 Thicken
And if your sauce almost done and you want to thicken it a little bit, then just uncover the pot for a few minutes while cooking it but only when it’s almost done, or you may need to add some water and too much water is not good. Uncovering the pot the last few minutes can thicken up pretty quickly. Stir it every minute during the last 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it.
How Many Voices?
When learning how to do things you’ve never done before, especially cooking you can learn from many others. The advantage of doing this is to grab a tip here and there which you can incorporate into your portfolio of skills. But it can easily get confusing with too many voices. So try to grab a quick tip here and there, but the best way to learn after that is by experience. I know there are many Marios out there that are ready to teach and even some Anthonys too. Many are good. Some are even celebrities. I have learned the basics from many and you should too. Just be careful when you learn from those scientific kitchen chefs that can overload your brain and make everything like a science experiment if you are not prepared to learn that way. Sometimes they’re okay to learn from but usually they’re a little too precise for me. I want to have fun while cooking, and following exact scientific recipes, treating your kitchen like a laboratory, can be great for some, but not for me, unless I’m making candies baking things that require super fine details. I prefer to just turn on the music and have fun while making my favorite things, especially fresh tomato sauce to pour on top of a Calzone or Spaghetti.
Be happy and have fun cooking!