The Tale of Three San Marzano Sauces – Part II

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Part I tells the story of how we came about these San Marzano sauces.

Now what did we think of them?!

photo 1(1)

First, let’s talk price.

When I finally found San Marzano sauces in the store, they were an impulse purchase. But I knew that it would be a fun experiment and that they wouldn’t go to waste. The first one I spotted was the most expensive and I was a little reluctant to purchase it.

From left to right in the picture above, here is what I spent at my local Cub Foods:

Silver Palate San Marzano Blend Marinara$3.99
Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro Homemade Style Marinara$5.49
Mario Batali Marinara Pasta Sauce– $7.49

Yes, you read that correctly. I paid $7.49 for jarred marinara. I’m used to paying $1 – $2 for my favorite high-sodium, high-sugar sauce when it’s on sale. This one was going to have to blow me away.

In full disclosure of our assessment, we didn’t eat these sauces side-by-side. I made Spaghetti with Meat Sauce once per week, trying a new sauce each week. Whether we liked them or not could depend so much on the day!

Sometimes we I do make zoodles or spaghetti squash in place of the pasta when we enjoy these dishes. But for the purposes of comparing, I used angel hair pasta and ground beef with each of these three sauces.

I decided that we were to start with the least expensive sauce first and work our way up. My logic was that if we tried the most expensive one first and loved it so much, we would be tainted by it and wouldn’t be able to appreciate the cheaper ones.

~~~

So first up…

photo 2(4)

The Silver Palate makes many versions of their San Marzano sauce. Some add basil, others garlic… I decided to start off with the basic, knowing we could try the other versions later.

What they boast: photo 5(2)

Okay, so it’s not full-on San Marzano that we have going on here… But I’m sure that the blending helps reduce the cost.

Ingredients:

photo 4(1)

I love that these ingredients are natural. They are real food, ingredients I recognize and can pronounce. I found the pear concentrate to be an interesting substitute for the sugar you find in a lot of jarred marinara sauces.

Nutrition Facts:

photo 3(4)

Already, the 3 grams of sugar and 360 mg of sodium together are a huge improvement over my regular favorite with 10 g and and 590 mg respectively.

Flavor:

I liked it. I’d get it again. It didn’t have as much San Marzano flavor, obviously, as when I make my meatless San Marzano Pasta. But I still liked my old standby better. Rob, on the other hand, loved it and said he’d prefer this pasta sauce over our my fave Ragu Parmesan & Romano Marinara.

~~~

Next up:

photo 2(3)

I’m not sure what prompted me to pick up this jar! You’ll see that no where on the front of the label does it indicate the sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes. But I did find it on the back of the jar, as shown below.

What they boast:

photo 4

But something they don’t seem to talk about is that there is one key ingredient that makes them stand out from the rest…

Ingredients:

photo 3(3)

Not just any red wine added, not just a Cabernet Sauvignon added, but a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is known in the wine world to be of high quality.

I like the fact that they use ingredients all local to the region, so you get the impression that it’s fresh at the source, perhaps when it’s jarred.  Again, all “natural” ingredients that are real foods and that I can pronounce are here.

Nutrition Facts:

Also shown in the photo above. The 3 grams of sugar is much better than my sauce’s 10 grams. And the 490 mg of sodium puts it almost in the middle of Silver Palate’s sauce and mine.

Flavor:

Mezetta was our least favorite. It was good, but not as good as the first one we tried. Nor was it worth it for $5.49 for a jar. Maybe the higher quality ingredients merit the higher price. But both of us said we’d revert back to our not-so-healthy Ragu in a heartbeat.

~~~

And Lastly…

photo 3(2)

I had high expectations for this sauce. I mean, C’mon! It’s Mario Batali!

What he boasts:

photo

Mmm… San Marzano tomatoes. Mmmm… fresh garlic.

Speaking of ingredients:

photo 5

Again, all natural, real foods that I can pronounce. Three for three on that one.

Nutrition Facts:

Well, now let’s compare:

Sugar
My Old Standby (Ragu Parmesan Romano) – 10 g
Silver Palate – 3 g
Mezzetta – 3 g
Mario Batali – 3 g

It’s more apparent than ever that there is way too much sugar in my regular sauce!

Sodium
My Regular – 590 mg
Silver Palate – 360 mg
Mezetta – 490 mg
Mario Batali – 490 mg

Flavor:

Mario Batali has made a good sauce here. $7.49 good? I don’t think so. I must admit that I did like the slivers of garlic. But I only tasted that flavor when I actually got a chunk. It did give me the idea that I should add slivers of fresh garlic to my own sauce! YES!

~~~

Final Notes:

  • The best value of the three is definitely the Silver Palate and *not* because it was the cheapest. It was our favorite, too! We will be getting it again and trying the other varieties. To boot, the sugar and sodium are significantly lower than my old standby and the lowest of the three San Marzano sauces we tried.
  • We’d buy the other two on sale – but they would have to be GOOD sale.
  • Thank you to Mario for inspiring me to add slivers of garlic. I know it sounds obvious. I do sometimes add minced garlic to the olive oil before I brown the ground beef. But fresh slivers of garlic simmering in the sauce are an even better idea.
  • I think I’ll have to make my own sauces to get a better San Marzano flavor up front… And I will be trying to do that soon. Then I can control the sugar and the sodium, too!

Here are the next homemade marinara sauces on my list to make over the coming weeks:

Six Minute Marinara Sauce by Lisa at Snack-Girl
Roasted Vegetable Marinara by Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen
Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce by Kath at In the Kitchen with Kath
Crockpot Pasta Sauce with Sausage by Gina at Skinnytaste {Thanks, Racheal!}

Do you have any others to share?

Cheers~
Carrie

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4 responses »

  1. Loved this comparison! Back in the day when I was a poor single Momma, Hunts was my go to canned sauce – back in the day it was 2/$1 for the big can – used to last me forever!

    I am not sure I could fork over more than $7 for a jar of sauce – glad the cheapest one was the best!

    Thanks for the link love too!

    Here is another one of my favorite sauces, I haven’t made it in a while since Tony doesn’t like red sauce or beef much anymore:

    https://biz319.wordpress.com/category/beef/butchers-beef-ragu/

  2. Pingback: San Marzano Meat Sauce over Spaghetti or Zoodles | Season It Already!

  3. I’ve tried Silver Palate and Batali and agree with everything you’ve said here. Liked both. Batali is a bit pricy. Found Silver Palate on sale for 2/$5 (reg $6.99) and snatched up a dozen jars. Totally worth it.

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