Thursday, March 23, 2006

Grocery gripe

I'm not a total health food snob. We do eat lots of whole grains and fresh vegetables, but I do not blanch at the thought of sugar in my ice cream. I can handle the news that chocolate candy generally contains sugar.

But why on earth does anyone put sugar in tomato sauce? Or stranger still, refried beans? What sort of thought process is going on here? It's like deciding to jazz up ice cream with a little cayenne pepper. (And tastes about as good.)

I try to read labels but conditions for it are rarely ideal. And I still haven't found good substitutes for my pre-moving favorite brands.


Rose said...

Putting sugar in tomato sauce was once a clever way to jazz things up a bit. Now that everything is so over-sugared and over-salted, you don't even notice it. Like over-sugared American chocolate, it's a cheap way to make up for lack of quality and good flavour. Boo hiss!

Auntie M. said...

A little bit of sugar is traditional in proper Italian tomato sauce, to cut the acid in the tomatoes. There's way too much of it in commercial sauces, though.

(Hey, look! It let me post!)

Queen of Carrots said...

Well, I now have some idea on the tomato sauce, but am still completely mystified on the refried beans. And hurrah for you being able to post!

Bruce said...

From Harold McGee's invaluable On Food and Cooking:

"Maintaining the Texture of Cooked Beans Three substances slow the softening of beans and therefore make it possible for the cook to simmer beans for hours or reheat them without disintegrating them. [...] sugar helps reinforce cell-wall structure and slows the swelling of the starch granules..."