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#1
Old 08-02-2002, 03:05 PM
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How can I thicken up store-bought spaghetti sauce?

Okay, so it's not a mind-blowing, life-altering question like most of the ones posted in this forum. But there are clear-cut answers for this.

When I buy a jar of spaghetti sauce, it is always too runny/watered down upon cooking. How can I thicken it up using common household foods?
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#2
Old 08-02-2002, 03:22 PM
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Add tomato paste to thicken it. Add some garlic powder, oregano, salt, and sugar to boost the flavor.

Buy Prego instead of Ragu or whatever and you'll avoid the problem in the first place.
#3
Old 08-02-2002, 03:23 PM
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My girlfriend achieves this by adding breadcrumbs...tastes pretty good.
#4
Old 08-02-2002, 03:23 PM
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Well, you could add tomato paste to it. That would thicken it up.

Or, use the goodfella's method: Add a clove or ten of garlic, a couple of onions, a couple of peppers, every spice on the rack, and a can of sauce. One big can.
#5
Old 08-02-2002, 03:24 PM
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Carrot shavings will thicken it slightly while also giving it a pleasant sweetness. SMALL amounts of flour stirred in will help as well.

My grandma used to toss a whole slice of white bread on the sauce, which I found to be pretty unpleasent. Tasted fine, but if you got a big hunk the texture would put you off.

The easiest way is to keep the cover off, some of the water will boil off.
#6
Old 08-02-2002, 03:25 PM
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You could stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into it before heating. The cornstarch will thicken the sauce when it boils. Or, you could add the cornstarch as a suspension in 1/4 cup water just as you are done cooking. That way the sauce stays thin until you're ready to serve it up. Stirring a can of tomato paste in at the last moment is another way to give storebought sauce some body. Adding dried mushroom while cooking will also soak up excess liquid.
#7
Old 08-02-2002, 03:30 PM
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Tomato paste
Simmer long time
Add tablespoon of olive oil
Add meat

These are all the reasons a good italian sauce (aka gravy) will thicken.
#8
Old 08-02-2002, 04:02 PM
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During a hiking trip I boiled down a jar of sauce so it fit into a maybe 2 oz container (to make it lighter to carry and water is an easy thing to get in the woods). It made it into a very thick paste. I don't remember how long it took but if you start boiling it it will thicken.
#9
Old 08-02-2002, 04:12 PM
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I second the "don't buy cheap runny stuff" advice. Prego, eww. Try Barilla. Thick, with lots of nice chunks of mushrooms, garlic, onions or peppers -- and no sugar added. Suitable for consumption heated and dumped over fresh-cooked pasta. No other preparations necessary (which I'm guessing is an important factor in the case of a bachelor).

Or, add tomato paste.
#10
Old 08-02-2002, 04:46 PM
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If you're going to go through all this trouble, make your own sauce. I made a great sauce just the other day by frying up a bit of garlic (pre-chopped in a jar) and crushed red pepper flakes in olive oil and adding a can of drained, chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, oregano, basil and a touch of sugar.

You can do all that while your water is heating up, and cook down the sauce while the pasta cooks. Quick, cheap, easy, and it impresses the ladies.

For straight thickening, I do like the seasoned breadcrumbs, though it adds a distinctive texture if you use a lot.
#11
Old 08-02-2002, 04:51 PM
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I second the "don't buy cheap runny stuff" advice. Prego, eww. Try Barilla. Thick, with lots of nice chunks of mushrooms, garlic, onions or peppers -- and no sugar added. Suitable for consumption heated and dumped over fresh-cooked pasta. No other preparations necessary (which I'm guessing is an important factor in the case of a bachelor).

Or, add tomato paste.
#12
Old 08-02-2002, 05:02 PM
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If you're not worried about your health I would add some grated parmesean. Thickens and cheese will never do you wrong.
#13
Old 08-02-2002, 05:34 PM
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You could also try making the sauce from scratch - there are recipes everywhere. Or just add some tomato pste - that works fine.
#14
Old 08-02-2002, 06:00 PM
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I often thicken sauces by adding half a handful of rolled oats; sounds really weird but it works a treat; it's especially good if it's a meaty sauce (like minced lamb in gravy for a shepherd's pie).
#15
Old 08-02-2002, 07:45 PM
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Off to Cafe Society.
#16
Old 08-02-2002, 10:19 PM
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ONe of the best ways I have found to add a kind of meaty body to tomato sauce is to add finely diced egg plant. If you peel it first, it will kind of dissolve, and leave no discernible eggplant-like bits. I've successfully (and secretly) served it to committed eggplant haters, and they loved it.
#17
Old 08-03-2002, 03:20 AM
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If you just simmer the sauce with the lid off while the pasta water boils and pasta cooks it should thicken quite a bit.

A really great sauce right off the shelf is Frank's. I don't know if it's available in the Fortress of Solitude, but it is available in My Own Private Idaho (aka Worcester, Ma.). It's really the best sauce I've ever had out of a jar. If Frank's isn't available, I'd go with Barilla.
#18
Old 08-03-2002, 03:21 AM
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Ahhh...make that the Fortress of Solidude. My apologies.
#19
Old 08-03-2002, 10:04 AM
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Why is this in cafe society?
#20
Old 08-03-2002, 02:24 PM
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What does one do in a cafe? Eat?

Food and cooking topics are sent to live amongst the LOTR threads. Oops, gotta go, time for second breakfast!
#21
Old 08-03-2002, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
What does one do in a cafe? Eat?
Also tip the waitstaff but questions about tipping are not sent here. Last I heard CS is for arts and entertainment - Did I miss a memo?
#22
Old 08-03-2002, 06:02 PM
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Salsa, baby!
#23
Old 08-04-2002, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by k2dave


Also tip the waitstaff but questions about tipping are not sent here. Last I heard CS is for arts and entertainment - Did I miss a memo?
In my opinion cooking can be an artform and is greatly entertaining. I've been reading the boards for awhile now and I've seen a few threads about cooking here, none seemed out of place to me.
#24
Old 08-04-2002, 10:05 AM
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I keep a jar of store-bought white gravy mix around for just such an occasion. It's great as a thickening agent, and I can always take care of those 3am gravy urges.




"You doctors have been telling us to drink 8 cups of gravy per day for years!" -- Homer Simpson

Tim
(sorry that I probably screwed up the quote)
#25
Old 08-04-2002, 12:31 PM
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Easiest way to thicken it? Toss in a couple o' tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes (not the kind in oil). They'll absorb bunches of liquid as they rehydrate.

And I third the "don't buy the cheap sauce" argument. (I like um...used to be "Five Brothers" but (stupidly) changed it's name to something like "Bertiolli"

Fenris
#26
Old 08-04-2002, 01:43 PM
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Heat the sauce in a large frying pan rather than a sauce pan. Cook the pasta til it is just a little short of al dente and then add it to the pan with the sauce. Heat the pasta in the sauce until it is done. The starch in the pasta will thicken the sauce and the sauce will permeate the pasta. This is how Italians prepare pasta (usually with home made sauce of course).
#27
Old 08-04-2002, 02:02 PM
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The way I was taught is to cook the meat/vegies, whatever you are adding to the sauce and then pour the sauce in the hot pan. Then add some red wine and let it all simmer together. It sure likes to splatter! But the wine adds a delightful flavor.
#28
Old 08-05-2002, 03:57 AM
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Some good suggestions already. But if you're going to buy store-bought, "don't buy the cheap runny stuff" is right. Barilla is good, and I used to get Five Brothers/Bertoli. Personally I go for Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce when I still get store-bought. Thick and very good when combined with meat or veggies and mushrooms.

For thickening with some flavor, try adding a can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinegar, Basil, and Olive Oil to the sauce then cooking it down. Yum.
#29
Old 08-05-2002, 05:47 AM
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I second using cornflour. If you already like the taste it won't change it at all.

For a 450mL can, I'd use a tablespoon of it. Mix it in a cup with a little cold water first so that it doesn't clump, then pour it in. Make sure you cook it for a few more mins so you don't get a floury taste.

Cornflour works for thickening almost anything it seems!
#30
Old 08-05-2002, 02:16 PM
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Blue Curls, are you talking about cornmeal? Like to make cornbread with, right? It seems like it would be really grainy to me. I love that oat idea, though. I love oats, period. I eat them with a spoon, uncooked!
#31
Old 08-05-2002, 03:02 PM
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Slight hijhack.

UK/Aus "Cornflour" = US "Cornstarch."

And in my experience,

US "Cornmeal" = UK/Aus "You eat that?"

It's probably not as uncommon as it was ten years ago, when I made a bunch of UK and Oz friends, but I doubt it'll ever be a staple the way it is here.

On cornstarch: dissolving it first is essential. Any liquid will work - red wine is ideal if you have an open bottle in the fridge.

But really, the better option is simmering it down or using better sauce. Consumer Reports recently rated them; sadly, they found that the more expensive gourmet brands were significantly better than Ragu or Prego (they didn't test Barilla, which I like a lot and is only slightly more expensive). Best Buy: of all things, Emiril, who's an offensive human being but apparently makes good sauce.
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