The Sweet Addition That Will Change Your Spaghetti Sauce Forever

Making homemade spaghetti sauce is truly a labor of love because it's so easy to pick up a jar of sauce at the market — and there are some really good ones out there. But, to make it yourself shows you are not afraid to spend some time in the kitchen, using the best ingredients to serve up something special for the ones you care about. Most spaghetti sauce recipes utilize the same basic ingredients: oil, garlic, onion, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Variations include adding ground meat or sausage, and herbs. Cooking instructions almost always call for "low and slow," to gently meld all the flavors together.

When you go through the steps to make a delicious, homemade sauce, you don't want anything less than perfection. So, what happens, then, when your sauce turns out sour, bitter, or bland? You can either get mad and dump it all down the drain, or (preferably) step back, take a breath, and fix it. And, you might be surprised at how easy this is to do. As for those who have already perfected their homemade spaghetti sauces using the aforementioned ingredients, there is something that may make your creation even better.

The secret's in the sweetness

There is a scene in "The Godfather" where the character Clemenza is teaching Michael Corleone how to make sauce. He fries some garlic in oil in a large pot then adds canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Then he puts in sausage and meatballs, a little wine, and finally, a little bit of sugar saying, "And, that's my trick." Clearly, Clemenza was onto something because, indeed, it is adding sugar to tomato sauce that will result in a more balanced sauce, per Taste of Home. With the natural acidity of tomatoes, the prevalent ingredient in spaghetti sauce, it is no surprise that the sauce can naturally make your lips pucker. There will be a noticeable difference after adding even the smallest pinch of sugar. According to Live Strong, you can substitute sugar with sweet vegetables like carrots and red bell peppers, or with sweet wine or honey.

If you think your nonna would turn over in her grave if she knew you'd added something as sacrilege as sugar to her famous spaghetti sauce, rest assured, this practice actually has Italian roots. According to Epicurious, adding sugar came from southern Italy when sauce was made with late-season tomatoes that did not fully ripen like their mid-summer counterparts. Frugal and efficient Italians were not about to waste these fruits of their labor, so they sweetened them up a bit. Sauce made with perfectly ripe, home-grown tomatoes may not need sugar at all. The key is to taste, determine, and keep the sugar bowl nearby.