No Ragu Brand, No Worries Canada
Reactions mixed as jarred sauce hits the road
In a move that had Italian-Canadians and pretty much anyone with any culinary ability shrugging their shoulders, the RAGU brand is no longer competing in the Canadian pasta-sauce market.
Replying to various tweets in June about not being able to find their products, Ragu’s official Twitter account (@ragusauce) posted the following:
“We regret to inform you that RAGÚ® has made the hard decision to exit the Canadian pasta-sauce market. We hope that you have enjoyed the delicious taste of RAGÚ® and are very sorry for any inconvenience. For further questions please visit our website at https://bit.ly/31G5OVp.”
Distributed by Mizkan America, a subsidiary of the Mizkan Group, Ragu brand past sauces began with the very first jar sold by Assunta Cantisano, whose family moved to Rochester, N.Y. from Naples.
Since then it grew to include dozens of jarred sauces which most home cooks – good and bad – could easily mimic or improve upon.
The reaction to Ragu brand sauces no longer being in the Canadian market has been mixed. Some were happy to see them go, some were nonplussed by the decision, while still others were irate.
On Aug. 20, @derekjohnson282 exclaimed, “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!” and posted a picture of a Canadian flag.
@Cdn_SupahFly was a bit tongue in cheek with his Aug. 20 reply – showing his true North colours in the process: “Your website is strangely uninformative about your withdrawal from the Superior Northern Region. Could you clarify why you left? I feel like this is a “Dear John” letter without the “Dear,” the “John” and the rest of the letter.”
On Aug. 21, @Daphne Park7 lamentingly wrote: “why the decision to leave Canada, Ragu has been my families (sic) favourite for 40 years, we have been loyal to the Ragu brand but Ragu is not being loyal to its Canadian customers.”
@BCDogLover1 was in the “who cares” faction, posting, “#Ragu? What’s #Ragu? Oh, the salty ketchup sauce trying to be a pasta sauce.”
Make your own sauce
Still others claimed they preferred other brands, but the truth is making a nice tomato sauce that can be levelled-up at any point by adding ingredients is easy to do.
Start with one can or jar of crushed or diced tomatoes (my preference is crushed), one or two cloves of garlic (use two small or one large), an onion (red or white, I like red), a couple of bay leaves, olive oil (or vegetable oil if that’s all you have), salt and pepper.
Dice the garlic and onion, open the can or jar of tomatoes, and get the olive oil heating up on medium or medium high heat in a saucepan or pot.
Once you can tell the oil is heated to a good temperature – how long depends on each person’s stovetop – add the onions and garlic. Sauté those and stir gently until they are soft. You can also add sweetness by sautéing until a light brown is seen (a light caramelization of the onions and garlic).
At this point I like to add the bay leaves and toss them around for a few seconds before putting in the can or jar of tomatoes.
Once the tomatoes are in, I like to stir them around a little to get all the flavour mixed throughout. Then, I’ll fill the can or jar with warm water and stir it into the pot or saucepan.
Next add a couple of pinches of salt and pepper and let the sauce come to a boil. Then turn the heat down and let the sauce reduce to your desired thickness, stirring every so often to help the flavour flow.
During the stirring, have a taste everyone now and then to ensure you have the right amount of salt and pepper. If it needs a bit more, add some to taste. But, always add a little at a time, because once it’s in there, you can’t take it out.
The beauty of this basic tomato sauce is it can be used on its own or be upgraded with meatballs, vegetables, or even seafood.
Hope this recipe helps make the loss of Ragu a bit easier for some of you, while adding to other individual’s culinary repertoires.
By Chris Occhiuzzi, special to MuskokaOnline.com
When Chris isn’t writing stories for MuskokaOnline.com, Dockside Publishing or running MuskokaUnlimited.com, you can find him volunteering his time as a coach and board member for the Huntsville Soccer Club.