The Unexpected Pantry Staple That Will Cut The Acidity Of Tomatoes

If you find that your Sunday sauce is too sour or tart or you're heartburn is acting up after a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, your sauce might be too acidic. This could be because the tomatoes in the canned sauces at the store are made more acidic during the canning process to preserve freshness and prevent bacterial growth (via National Center for Home Food Preservation). And sometimes those products are made with low-quality, highly acidic tomatoes, too, which can result in a sauce that gives you and your guests heartburn. However, there are a few hacks and tricks out there to balance the acidity of your tomatoes.

Sugar and salt work well, as they balance out acidity and enhance the tomato flavor, but it's easy to go overboard when trying to get the taste just right. Add a pinch at a time and taste as you go. If you have vegetables like carrots or celery on hand, you can chop those up and add them to your sauce. Cooked carrots are sweet, so they'll add a subtle sweetness that will hopefully fix your sauce (via Substitute Cooking).

Check your refrigerator for this ingredient

If you're already too far down the road with your homemade tomato sauce and it's still too acidic, you can use baking soda to cut the acidity. Yes, the same item you use for chocolate chip cookies and the same deodorizer for your refrigerator can also tame your wildly tart tomato sauce. 

Remember your high school chemistry classes and the pH scale? Tomatoes are naturally acidic; canned tomatoes are even more so. Baking soda is a base that can neutralize the acidity of your tomato sauce, helping balance it out.

You don't need much — just a pinch will do. It'll fizz and bubble and foam like the baking soda and vinegar experiment from elementary school. Stir things around, then taste again, and adjust as necessary. A good rule of thumb is a quarter teaspoon for every cup of sauce (per The Splendid Table). And you can use baking soda for more than just neutralizing tomato sauce, try a tiny pinch in your morning coffee, and leave the Tums at home.