Yes, This Boutique Italian Tomato Paste is Worth $30 a Jar

The canned stuff in supermarkets can't compare to the rich, sunny-sweet taste of this Sicilian concentrate

tomato paste
The sweet taste of summer, all year long.Kristy Mucci

I hate to say this, but we're approaching the end of tomato season. Now is the time to enjoy as many good tomatoes as you can. And, maybe more importantly, it's the time to start preserving them for the cold months. (Try some confit or a puckery salt brine.)

If you're not big into preserving and pressure-canning, take a tip from Gramercy Tavern's chef Mike Anthony—who's known for being fiercely dedicated to local and seasonal produce—and support local farmers who do it for you. Plenty of farmers put the time and effort into preserving their tomatoes in all kinds of ways, so all you have to do is get to a market and buy them. Your winter cooking will be much better for it.

At Gramercy, Anthony uses preserved tomatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm throughout the winter. You can get them at the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

tomato paste
Just a dab will do yaKristy Mucci

Beyond New York’s Union Square Greenmarket, there’s another option that even Anthony can get behind: tomato concentrate. Not that muddy-tasting tomato paste at supermarkets, but rather a sweet, sunny version Anthony stumbled upon in Sicily:

“Most everyone who cooks has a thing of tomato paste. It just never really has appealed to me, those canned tomatoes are all kind of a ubiquitous thing. I bought a quarter pound of this Sicilian tomato concentrate which kind of looks the same, it's a deep dark red color, but it was handmade and sun-dried, and it was like a revelation. It is so dense that it's essentially preserved, and using that when I'm cooking is just a dream.”

Anthony wasn't sure where to find it back home, but I asked around and found out that the lovely folks at Gustiamo sell sun-dried Sicilian tomato concentrate, just like what Anthony described. Yes, it's $30 a jar, but that's because it's jam-packed with top-notch Italian tomatoes, and just a dab will do on toast or to enrich a wintry pasta sauce. It's my new favorite way to keep the sweet taste of summer going all year long.