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I’m trying to use a tomato product to make my food taste sweet and tangy and not just a mild tomato flavour.

I have tried Holland and Barret tomato puree which I’m assuming is a puree as it states. When taken straight from the tube it tastes good but when I did a stew with it the stew didn’t taste sweet or tangy all over. I tried to evaporate the water but it still didn’t taste sweet and tangy like the tube.

From my research it seems other products I can try are:

  • tomato pasata
  • tomato sauce
  • tomato paste
  • tomato powder

Correct me if I’m wrong but pasata is very similar to puree it’s just uncooked and unfiltered. If you add it during cooking you will get similar results to the purée. If you add it raw at the end you will not get a stew which is sweet and tangy and the pasata won’t mix well.

Am I right in thinking mixing in tomato sauce won’t have a rich sweet, tangy taste either because the tomatoes are still thick and not concentrated whereas the purée is so it will still taste mild and not sweet and tangy like I’m hoping.

The tomato paste I read is the most concentrated form however if you add it to say a stew wouldn’t it just not spread because it’s a paste which won’t spread around just like what happened with the purée and it will also get de concentrated like the purée did.

Tomato powder I don’t know much about.

  1. I have asked about stews but I am also wanting to know how it will taste if the cooking method was a frying, grilling or a soup (same as stew I guess and I know I’d have to increase concentration with soups to have any effect). Basically which tomato product is best to get the cooked fats, oil or water tasting seriously sweet and tangy?

  2. when I search for tomato paste google doesn’t return many results except for purée products including the one listed above. I’d prefer something that doesn’t use citric acid, additives, preservatives or extra ingredients. Where can I find such products?

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    The "puree" you already used would be called "tomato paste" in the USA.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Apr 25 at 4:29
  • 2
    ^ See here: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/784/…
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 25 at 6:16
  • Ok guys so paste is known as puree in the U.K which is perhaps why searching paste on google returns purées only. But the question still stands which would give the most sweetest stew/soup/sauce etc Commented Apr 25 at 16:37

5 Answers 5

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None of the above.

Assuming that you're adding a sufficient quantity of tomato product to your recipe in the first place (without a recipe or quantities, I can't tell), your best course is to boost sweetness and acidity using sugar and vinegar, wine, or lemon juice.

For example, to make BBQ sauce both sweet and tangy, this recipe adds cider vinegar and brown sugar to ketchup.

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  • I’m trying to avoid all of those ingredients you listed. If you imagine using boiling raw tomatoes vs boiling a paste I imagine the former would be very mild unless you crushed it(pasata). Or are you saying all will give the same result depending on the ratio of tomato product to water, oil, fat etc? Thanks Commented Apr 26 at 2:23
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    What he’s saying is, the “sweet, tangy tomato taste” is the result of multiple ingredients complementing each other, not of just adding enough tomato-ness.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Apr 26 at 7:03
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    You'd have to grow your own from one of the high-sugar varieties to assure "sweet" without adding sugar, (maybe find a local farm. Won't find those in cans/jars/etc, IME - they can't be canned without added acid, and they are not optimized for canning as bred) and most/all of the "sweet" varieties are not particularly "tangy" - so you add ingredients, or you're going to have to get into tomato breeding as well as tomato growing to get what you want.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Apr 27 at 14:58
  • There's precedent for adding sugar.  For example, Peter Clemenza said in The Godfather: “…and a little bit of wine.  And a little bit of sugar: and that's my trick.”
    – gidds
    Commented May 6 at 11:59
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If you specifically want sweet and tomato, you might want to use tomato ketchup. (Known as “tomato sauce” in the UK).

It will give you sweetness, but also a little extra tang (commonly from vinegar) and possibly some salt.

It’s also not uncommon for a lot of tomato dishes to call for a bit of white sugar to compensate for tomatoes that may have been picked before they’re fully ripe.

When using tomato paste (called “tomato purée” in the UK and one of the few tomato products sold in tubes), you typically add it fairly early in most recipes, and then cook it before you’ve added any liquid. This will help to intensify both the tomato and sweet flavors. (And then you add your liquid and scrape the bottom of the pan or pot, so you don’t end up burning it).

It will also make sure that the flavor distributes well through the whole dish. If you have to add it later, I would suggest pulling out some of the liquid (maybe 1/2 to 1cup; about 120 to 250mL), mixing the tomato paste into that smaller amount, then mixing that into the larger pot.

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Another option would be to add apples or applesauce to your dish. This gives sweetness and fruitiness.

Depending on your location there should be applesauces without any additional sugar.

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You haven't mentioned any quantities, so I'm going to assume you intend to use the same amount by weight of each product.

Powder.

The only difference between the products mentioned is the amount of water left in them:

  • passata is chopped/sieved/strained tomatoes, like a nicely consistent can of 'chopped tomatoes' without extra liquid
  • puree/paste is further reduced to an ambiguous and varying concentration
  • powder is dehydrated so 'none' of the tomatoes' water remains

(I'm ignoring 'sauce' because that could be anything, what else is in it? It's going to be basically equivalent to passata plus its other ingredients.)

So it really just boils down to how much tomato your putting in, and if you put in the same amount of any of those then the powder is a lot more tomato.

(But I'm not saying you should dump loads of it in your stew, just answering the actual question. Consider also sugar (which the 'sauce' would probably be a proxy for), MSG, Worcestershire sauce - maybe you're focussing too much on type of tomato when actually it's not the way, or the best way, to get the 'sweet and tangy'-ness you're looking for.)

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A home-made stock tomato sauce can enhance sweetness, tang, and complexity without harshness by layering tomato flavours and seasoning ..

  • Finely sliced garlic brought to a gold colour, from cold, in (not your best) olive oil.. optional touch of chilli flakes
  • Tomato Paste fried out in the oil until it darkens and smells a bit of caramel, for rich sweetness
  • A dry acidity from a splash of white wine for seasoning rather than flavouring, reduced. Apple juice can substitute.
  • Passata, or a stick-blended can of tomatoes
  • Simmered low for half an hour or so in a wide pan, to thicken.

.. seasoned in whatever direction you need with... black pepper / dried oregano / basil stem / honey..

But maybe the most relevant component to your question is the tomato paste, fried / dry-fried until it caramelizes.

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