Tomatoes are one of nature's most remarkable foods. They're not only fat, cholesterol and sodium free and low in calories, but they also contain fiber, vitamins A and C and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect your body against free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cells. In addition, tomato flavor enhances almost any dish. Sometimes, however, tomato-based foods become acidic and cause stomach discomfort. By following a few proven tips, you can balance the acidic taste and content of your tomato dish.
Add a pinch or two of white or brown sugar to your tomato sauce or soup. Manufacturers understand that sugar helps balance tomato sauce acidity and typically add it to their commercial products. Often, however, commercial brands are loaded with sugar -- about 1 teaspoon of sugar for each 1/2-cup serving. If you purchase a commercial tomato sauce, compare labels and choose the one with the least amount of added sugar. If the commercial brand tastes too acidic, add a bit more sugar to suite your taste.
Stir in a pinch of baking soda, which is a base, to neutralize your tomato sauce, which is an acid. The sauce foams briefly, as you stir the baking soda into the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer a minute or two after adding the baking soda. Avoid adding too much soda because it alters the sauce's flavor.
Pour a small amount of cream or milk into your tomato sauce or soup. Since milk is an alkaline food, it helps balance the sauce's acidity. Milk also contains calcium, which acts as a buffer against acidic foods. Calcium is found in many antacids in the form of calcium carbonate.
Add alkaline-rich vegetables, such as grated carrot or caramelized onions, to your tomato sauce. Since carrots and onions are alkaline, they help balance the sauce's acidity. The carrot dissolves in the sauce, giving it a slight sweetness without the carrot flavor. The onions impart a mild, sweet richness to the tomato flavor.
Items you will need
- Sugar, white or brown
- Baking soda
- Milk or cream
- Four Seasons Pasta: A Year of Inspired Recipes in the Italian Tradition; Janet Fletcher
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to the TLC Diet; Diane Welland
- New Jersey News: Ask Chef Nancy: Sweetening Tomato Sauce
- University of California - San Diego: Acid and Alkaline Foods
- Florida Tomato Committee: Health Glossary
- Le Cordon Bleu: Culinary Central: 6 Great Uses For Tomato Sauce
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Health Information: Calcium
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images