An Estratto di Pomodoro with no peers. Maria Grammatico's thick, rich tomato paste is made in the old fashion way from a Sicilian heirloom variety of San Marzano tomatoes under the hot Sicilian sun.
Ripe tomatoes are carefully ground by hand and the paste is spread onto a tauleri (a long wooden board) and placed on the rooftop of Maria's pasticceria in Erice 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 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.
The Estratto takes on a deep red, almost blood color at the end of the drying process. The paste is then salted with sea salt from the Trapani salt flats and packed in a candari (large clay urns) and topped with a think layer of Sicilian extra virgin olive oil to preserve the color and intensity of flavor.
An addition of a small spoonful of Estratto will bring depth of sweetness and complexity to any tomato-based sauces. Add a teaspoon to a minestrone or fish stew, as well as in making marinades and rubs for grilled meats. Hard to resist not to spread a think layer on toasted crusty bread and drizzle Olio Verde on it for a perfect snack.