Kitchen Q&A

Does boiling tomato sauce make it watery?

Erica Marcus dresses spaghettie with a basic tomato sauce containing thyme, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in New York City on January 12, 2010. (Timothy Fadek/Newsday/MCT)
Erica Marcus dresses spaghettie with a basic tomato sauce containing thyme, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in New York City on January 12, 2010. (Timothy Fadek/Newsday/MCT)
Timothy Fadek / MCT

The Charlotte Observer

Q. When I watch cooking shows, they allow their spaghetti sauce to come to a boil. Doesn’t that break the sauce and make it watery when you plate it?

On TV, cooking is all about flashing knives and bubbling pots. So there are things that TV cooks do that aren’t necessarily how you’d do it at home.

However, I checked a number of sources and couldn’t find anything about tomato sauce becoming watery when it’s boiled. You do need to be careful about cooking tomatoes over high heat, though. The sauce could easily burn and stick.

If you’re having trouble with watery tomato sauce, it might be the tomatoes, according to Miriam Rubin, the author of Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook (UNC Press, 2013).

“If she made her sauce without using any paste tomatoes (or without seeding the tomatoes), that sauce will be more watery,” says Rubin. “I always use a combination of big slicers, paste tomatoes such as Amish Paste, Oxheart or Opalikia for sauce and I add (tomato) paste to thicken it.”

Spaghetti also can be watery if you don’t drain the pasta well.

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