Tomato Sauce: The Importance of Enzymes and Temperatures

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The most familiar vegetable puree in the West, and perhaps in the world, is tomato sauce and paste. The solids in tomatoes are about two-thirds flavorful sugars and organic acids, and 20% cell-wall carbohydrates that have some thickening power (10% cellulose, and 5% each pectin and hemicelluloses). In the United States, commercial tomato purees may include all the water in the original tomatoes, or just a third. Tomato paste is tomato puree cooked down so that it contains less than a fifth of the water of the raw vegetable. Tomato paste is thus a concentrated source of flavor, color, and thickening power. (It’s also an effective emulsion stabilizer.)