Tonight, I made a quick tomato pasta sauce, using canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil. And ... it was better than even the $11 jar of fancy gourmet tomato pasta sauce I once bought.
It's been my general observation that even the simplest, quick, homemade tomato sauce, made from canned tomatoes, is as good or better than the very best commericial jarred tomato sauces. And it's not just me, America's Test Kitchen has said the same thing.
So my question is ... why?
Clearly something causes commercially prepared tomato sauces to degrade in processing or in the jar, despite the best efforts of well-funded food corporations. Is it double-cooking the tomatoes? The high-pressure canning required? Some kind of degredation that happens when cooked tomatoes with oil sit in a jar for weeks?
To add to this, in a straight comparison, the problem is mainly the "tomato" flavor, which is extremely muted even in high-end jarred sauces, and in comparison with simple canned whole tomatoes. This is probably why many pasta sauces add sugar and a host of otehr ingredients, to make up for the lost tomato flavor. Supporting this, non-tomato-based pasta sauces seem to do better in jars; there's a butternut squash sauce we buy sometimes that's the equal of my homemade version.
So, thoughts and citations?