How can I counteract the sourness of a sauce?

A too-sour sauce produces unwanted flavours on the palate -- bitter, tart and even a bad aftertaste often result from an unsuccessful sauce. To combat the sour taste in sauce consider adding a milk-based ingredient to mellow the strong flavours, or counteract it with a pinch or two of sugar. Often tomato and mustard-based sauces will have a sour taste due to the acidic content of their ingredients. Balance out a sour sauce by stirring in additional ingredients to make your sauce taste better.

Creamy tomato sauce

Pour the chopped tomatoes into a large sauce pan. Add 45 ml (3 tbsp) of tomato paste. Stir together over a low heat, and cover.

Mince three cloves of garlic, one small onion, one carrot, and one celery stalk with a sharp knife on a cutting board. Pour 30 ml (2 tbsp) of olive oil in a saute pan and add the vegetables. Cook them over a medium-low heat until they are tender, which will take about 10 minutes.

Scrape the vegetables into the tomato sauce. Add 10 ml (2 tsp) each of dried rosemary, basil and oregano. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix together to combine.

Pour in 250 ml (1 cup) of double cream slowly into the sauce. Stir constantly while adding the cream. Cover and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for 15 minutes on a low heat. Stir occasionally.

Measure 10 ml (2 tsp) of sugar and add it to the sauce. Stir and then taste. Add more sugar, 5 ml (1 tsp) at a time according to preference. Allow the sauce to cook for several minutes more to absorb the sugar.

Sweet and sour mustard sauce

Use the tart taste of mustard and vinegar to make an equal contrast with the sweetness of sugar in a sweet-and-sour mustard sauce. Beat together two large eggs with 500 ml (2 cups) of double cream in a bowl.

Fill the base of a double boiler with 5 cm (2 inches) of water. Place over a medium-high heat until the water starts to boil.

Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of sugar with 30 ml (2 tbsp) of flour and 20 ml (4 tsp) of dry mustard into the double boiler. Slowly pour the milk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring constantly. Once the ingredients have been combined, turn the heat to low.

Whisk constantly while adding 125 ml (1/2 cup) of white wine vinegar. Cover and allow the sauce to thick for three to five minutes. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool for several minutes before serving.


Add more sugar, 15 ml (1 tbsp) at a time to sweeten the mustard sauce after adding the vinegar.


Use oven gloves when handling hot items on the hob.

Things You'll Need

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Olive oil
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Double cream
  • Sugar
  • Large eggs
  • Flour
  • Dry mustard
  • White wine vinegar
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About the Author

Alyssa Ideboen has been writing professionally since 2005. She has contributed to several print and online publications, including "Lexington Woman" and "Global Business" magazines. Ideboen holds a Bachelor of Arts in business management and communication from Judson University.