U’ Strattu (Sicilian Tomato Paste)

More than a recipe, this is a ritual. The tomato paste, which in the Sicilian dialect is called “strattu” or “stratto”, was prepared in the summer in all country houses by putting the tomato sauce to dry in the sun for several days, so that the water evaporated until you would get a very tasty tomato paste.

I remember my aunties used to get together to prepare the classic bottles of tomato sauce, a part of which was destined for the concentrate and dried tomatoes to be used in winter. Today, it is rare to see the strattu lying in the streets, but decades ago, especially in small towns, it was very common to see “u strattu stinnutu” anywhere. It was usually laid out on the maidde, typical wooden tables or in the fanguotti, the typical ceramic plates of local craftsmanship near the houses or on the terraces.

The strattu is used in many of the traditional recipes of Sicilian cuisine, it is difficult to list them all. It should be added above all for long cooking of meat or sauces. Just think of the preparation of the classic pork sauce, the Sunday dish. The strattu can be added directly to the preparation during cooking or diluted in a little water.

  • DifficultyEasy
  • CostCheap
  • Rest time2 Days
  • Cooking time15 Minutes
  • Serving1 kg
  • Cooking methodOther
  • CuisineItalian
  • SeasonalitySummer


30 kg tomato
1 spoon table salt


– choose ripe tomatoes and make sure they are intact. Wash them well, slice them in four, put them in a pan and squash them a bit with your hands;

– cook them adding salt;

– cook for at least 30 minutes or till it shrinks, mix it thoroughly, from time to time, with the help of a wooden spoon;

– pass the cooked sause through a sieve (passall) to obtaining the classic smooth tomato sauce;

– spread the sauce onto large and wide traditional ceramic plates or wooden boards;

– expose the plates/boards in plain sun, stir from time to time to allow uniform drying;

– in the evening it should be sheltered, preferably at home because the humidity would damage the strattu;

– the next day, place the plates/board under the sun again and repeat the drying/stirring operation again;

– as the tomato sauce dries it reduces in quantity too. The strattu must remain in the sun for at least three days or till it reaches a rather thick consistency and an intense red color;

– once ready, transfer the strattu into sterilized jars or containers, pressing well and making sure that no air bubbles remain in the middle;

– cover with some extra virgin olive oil and store in a cool place or fridge;

– You can choose to store u strattu also in the freezer (in this case do not cover with oil);

– the strattu can be stored for several months if well preserved and if you always use a clean spoon whenever you use it.

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