My tomato meat sauce came out too sweet (I changed the brand of tomato paste and I suspect that's the reason). What can I add to the now finished (and cooled sauce) to balance the taste?

  • Posted by: mirileh
  • October 30, 2010


JC C. March 1, 2019
I made a broth soup with Ham, and I added crushed tomatoes to it and it ruined my savory soup and made it too sweet. I added some coffee to the broth, and it brought out a rich deep flavor. Just a thought.
Smaug March 2, 2019
I've used a pinch of cocoa similarly.
casa-giardino November 1, 2010
? Tomato Sauce:

• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

• 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

• Parsley sprigs

• Basil sprigs

• Salt and black pepper

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice, parsley and basil and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Kitchen B. October 31, 2010
I'd blend some onions/shallots in a food processor, gently cook them in a touch of oil and add them to your sauce, along with some garlic and if you like a bit of fresh chili pepper
Jon P. October 31, 2010
If you've got a couple ingredients in mind that would go well with the rest of the sauce, I'd try to add some stuff to it just to increase the total volume of product you have in the pan.

What I mean is, right now you have a sauce that you think is too sweet. Adding something acidic or drying to it will affect the balance of flavor, but another way to look at the issue is to try to make it so that you have a lot more sauce, but the same amount of sweet ingredient (tomato paste). Is that explained clearly?

What other ingredients are in the sauce?
mirileh October 30, 2010
Thanks for all the answers!
Mr_Vittles October 30, 2010
Dry red wine may help, but then you might have to cook the sauce some more to get rid of the alcohol flavor (or maybe you like that taste). If its really too sweet then maybe try and dilute the flavor when you add some of the pasta water to it. Other than that chalk it up to life experience and try not to do it again the next time you make a red sauce.
Christina W. October 30, 2010
I'm in the "add dry red wine" camp. The acidity will help counter the sweetness. Good luck!
cookbookchick October 30, 2010
How about some dry red wine? Grated carrots are a good addition to many tomato sauces, but they are also sweet and you are saying the sauce is already too sweet for you.
Kayb October 30, 2010
Maybe a little red wine vinegar? Of course, that would up the acid content.
mirileh October 30, 2010
That sounds logical. I did use more tomato paste than usual.
pierino October 30, 2010
Odds are you used too much tomato paste. It's not the brand. I buy tomato paste in a tube rather than the typical 8 oz can. You only need a spoonful at most. In Italy they wouldn't use it at all. You could try grating some carrots and working those in, as they won't add acidity.
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