How to Neutralize a Tomato Taste in Cooking

by Natalie Smith

    Some people, especially children, do not enjoy the flavor of tomatoes. However, tomatoes are difficult to avoid because they are used in so many recipes and sauces. If you or your family do not enjoy the flavor of tomatoes, you can neutralize the strong flavor of the tomatoes and still enjoy your favorite recipes.

    Buy Better Tomatoes

    Consider the tomatoes you have been using before you attempt to soften the tomato flavor. Out-of-season tomatoes may be pale and taste more acidic, or you may be purchasing the wrong kind of tomato for the recipe. Try purchasing a high-quality brand of canned tomatoes for a recipe. In this case, canned may be better than the fresh ones you find at the supermarket. Purchase the best tomatoes you can afford, because quality does matter.

    Use Aromatic Vegetables and Herbs

    Recipes that call for a lot of tomatoes, such as tomato sauce, often benefit from additional flavors. Garlic and onions pair well with tomatoes in many recipes and help to cut the acid. Herbs can also change the flavor of the recipe. Basil, oregano and red pepper flakes all add dimension to many tomato recipes. Try using the blended herbs and spices in a package of salad dressing and dip mix to flavor your tomato sauce. These aromatics and herbs won't disguise the tomato flavor but they will enhance it and make it milder in comparison.

    Add Other Ingredients

    Many French and Italian recipes that call for tomatoes also use a variety of other finely chopped vegetables. A French mirepoix or Italian soffritto is onions, carrots and celery, and the vegetables mask the strong tomato flavor. Other combinations that lend themselves well to ethnic cooking include onions, peppers and celery in Creole cuisine. You can use any combination of minced green peppers, celery, carrots, eggplant or any other vegetable to suppress tomato flavor, while adding a serving of vegetables to your family's daily diet.

    Change the Recipe

    If you or your family really do not enjoy the flavor of tomatoes, consider changing the recipe. In a gumbo or stew, reduce the amount of tomatoes. If you are using tomatoes for a sauce, experiment with other ingredients that will allow you to cut down on the number of tomatoes, such as red wine or beef stock. Pureeing the tomato sauce may also help to integrate the ingredients more, which may help neutralize any strong tomato flavor. Alternatively, use a prepared sauce. Ready-made sauces usually have a softer tomato flavor.

    About the Author

    Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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