Maria Grammatico estratto di pomodoro is a tomato paste like no other. It is still made the old fashioned way with three key ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, Sicilian sun and time. The result is a rich, brick-red, umami-packed paste that adds instant concentrated tomato flavor with just a spoonful.
This almost magical paste starts with ripe tomatoes that are carefully ground by hand and then spread on taulieri, wooden boards seasoned with years of tomato-drying. The boards are placed on the rooftop of Maria's pasticceria under the hot summer sun to dry for 8 to 10 days. Each evening at dusk, the boards are placed inside to prevent any night moisture damaging the drying paste. The paste is folded everyday with a large flat wooden spatula and placed back on the roof at sunrise. The turning of the paste is done twice daily for even drying and achieving the right paste consistency.
When the paste is just right, it is salted with Sicilian sea salt from Trapani and transferred to large clay jars, called candari, and covered in a layer of Sicilian extra virgin olive oil to preserve its color and intensity of flavor.
Unlike commercial tomato paste which is heavily-pasteurized to ease the canning process, Maria's is unpasteurized and hand-packed, the way it's always been done (this means the lids won't be "compressed", like some jarred preserves).
How to use
Just a small spoonful of estratto will bring depth, sweetness and complexity to any tomato-based sauce. Add a teaspoon or two to a minestrone soup or fish stew, as well as when making marinades and rubs for grilled meats. A traditional snack for lucky Sicilian children is a bit of tomato paste spread on a slice of bread and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil...simple, but perfect.