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Testing testing: pasta sauces


Last Updated: 12:01am BST 01/09/2001

Bertolli tomato and basil with Bertolli extra virgin olive oil (500g, 1.69, Sainsbury's and other supermarkets)

This sauce is so red, it makes you think either you're in Tuscany and about to eat the ripest Italian tomatoes or that it is totally artificial. It's not artificial; it just hasn't been cooked for long enough to mellow it. Even though it is super-sweet, it is pungently herby and certainly one of the best on the shelf. The rustic jar makes it look like it comes from Mamma's pantry.

Loyd Grossman tomato and basil sauce (300g, 1.55, Waitrose and delis)

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The NHS may be finding its new Loyd Grossman menus too expensive, but I would certainly fork out a little bit more for this tasty sauce. Its deep red colour and warm garlic flavour puts it leagues ahead of the others. Olive oil gives it an authentic home-made sheen: it looks like I made it myself.

Dolmio sun-ripened tomato and basil pasta sauce (475g, 1.59, Safeway, Asda, Tesco)

Biggish chunks of tomato and basil leaf and the heavy-handed addition of sugar (the third most significant ingredient on the list) don't make up for this one's lack of flavour and slippy texture. The sachet packaging is obviously meant to imply freshness, but we're not fooled.

Seeds of Change 100 per cent organic tomato and basil pasta sauce (390g, 1.49, Tesco and other supermarkets)

For an organic product, this sauce tastes oddly chemical, as if it were made by scientists. One tester found the flavour papery and would prefer plain pasta to this. Weird menthol aftertaste is the nod to basil. This is suffering to be organic. The best argument for homemade sauce.

Fiordelisi tomato, herb and basil sauce (280g, 2.35, Waitrose)

The first thing that hits you is a faintly yeasty smell that is quite pleasant but not terribly like tomato. It's the same as drinking tea when you expect coffee. The tomato puree texture doesn't really do this oversweet sauce any favours. Could be used in cooking to enrich other dishes, but will never be the star of its own show.

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