Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Better Home Cooking Basics: #70 Neutralize Too Acidic Soups & Sauces with Baking Soda.

There’s a few things I learned about cooking with wine. The first is you have to have some in order to cook with it. If you have no wine you can’t cook with it. The second is vinegar is not the same as wine. It’s much MUCH more acidic. When you cook wine (or vinegar) it concentrates the flavor so you better like the flavor to begin with.

Why am I rambling about all this? To get to my tip of course so you can learn through my crazy mistake & miraculous quick fix. On Sunday I decided I was going to make this sauce. Four cups of red wine makes up most of the liquid of the sauce. I didn’t have any red wine on hand but I did have some red wine vinegar & some beef stock. (Remember: vinegar & wine are not the same.)

The recipe calls for 4 cups of red wine so somewhere in my (math-challenged) brain I thought that 1 cup of red wine vinegar & 3 cups of beef stock would be about the same. It was not. I added more tomatoes & water & guess what it was still so acidic that this made my mouth pucker!!! (Huge fail - dinner ware (almost) ruined!) I didn’t give up.

I went straight to google. There I found my solution to neutralizing the acid in my sauce that was only going to intensify as I continued to cook it. Baking soda was the answer! Can you believe it? Actually I was a little embarrassed (in front of myself) that I didn’t remember this from 6th grade science. After all I did make a volcano with baking soda & vinegar.

I grabbed the baking soda from the pantry &  added 1 teaspoon at a time to my giant pot of bolognese sauce. At first the sauce bubbled like my 6th grade science project. I like to think that the baking soda eating the acid, or you know neutralizing it. Then I tasted it. It already tasted so much better with no flavor of the baking soda whatsoever.

I added one more teaspoon of baking soda. I let it bubble up again & stirred it before tasting it & when I did I was convinced that it was that much better that I save it & didn’t need any more baking soda.

Then I had Chris taste the sauce which he thought still tasted too acidic. So I added one last teaspoon of baking soda & had Chris taste it again. We both agreed that it was finally neutralized. (I suggest always having a second taster especially if you were the one tasting the sauce when it was pure vinegar. The second taster will have a different reference point.)

The moral of this tip: if you have a soup or sauce that is too acid add baking soda to neutralize it. It’s that simple. Also if you don't have red wine or don't want to use red wine a nice stock (beef, chicken or veggie) will give you a good flavor without all the pucker & the drama.

Get more of my better home cooking basics here.

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