This wonderful flavor filled vinegar has become a chefs staple and is sought out worldwide by professional chefs and amateurs alike. Balsamic vinegars have become much more available in the last 10 years and the choice of qualities and prices are vast.
Place of origin: Italy
Region or state: Modena and Reggio Emilia
Type : Condiment and salad dressing
Main ingredient(s): White Trebbiano grape juice
A Wikipedia excerpt
The original traditional product (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale), made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice and not a vinegar in the usual sense, has been made in Modena and Reggio Emilia since the Middle Ages: the production of the balsamic vinegar is mentioned in a document dated 1046. During the Renaissance, it was appreciated in the House of Este.
Today, the traditional balsamic vinegar is highly valued by chefs and gourmet food lovers.
Please remember that just like any oil or vinegar, they are all not created equal.
The differences you will find are almost immediate in the taste or viscosity and could make the difference of enjoyment or a sour face.
The fine art of making Balsamico Tradizionale is time and tradition all wrapped up and put into a barrel:
The process is similar but not exact to making wine. The finer Balsamico are stored in attics and spends years fermenting. As it goes through the seasons the barrel will get hot and then cold each year slowly evaporating the water and slowly but surely intensifying the flavors of the must liquid inside along with the flavors from the barrels that contain the liquid gold.
Just like olive oils there is balsamic vinegars that you would use as your
commonly using it in salads or dressings. And then you would have your special Balsamico that you would only use in finishing drizzles or over fruit or ice cream. The special Balsamico would be almost thicker in viscosity and have more intensified flavors that will pair well with fruit or cheese.
Take the time to ask your grocer or specialist in a store like Bosa Foods
in Vancouver or The Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver (better yet go to Italy an learn from the masters if you can) ….. Okay, back to reality and Vancouver…..
And ask them what Balsamico they would recommend for your different needs. Sometimes you may just be spending to much for something you are simply putting on to a salad. On the other side of that coin, you may be spending to little to get that ultimate flavor you would want when drizzling on to pears or strawberries and parmigiana.
The choices are to vast for me to put in this blog but the rewards for asking someone who knows will be worth it I promise.
The best Balsamico’s are made of concentrated grape must and wine vinegar. The longer that it is aged the thicker the viscosity and a much sweeter and flavorful taste. The better Balsamico’s are commonly aged no less than 8 years. You can commonly find 10, 15 and 25 year aged vinegars with the 25 year aged being the king of quality Balsamico’s.
Lower quality Balsamico may contain blends of different aged grape must and possibly caramel coloring to try and emulate the deep rich color that quality vinegars reach through proper aging and care. All balsamic vinegars tend to have aporox 6% acidity hence why balsamic is generally smoother and sweeter and flavorful than basic vinegars.
The true Balasamic vinegars from Modena or the Reggio Emilia regions are identified by this label
Last I just want to touch on balsamic Crema or reductions. Reductions can be thick, silky and sweet and a perfect drizzle for finishing that will achieve a similar taste (but to be honest not quite as nice as the 10 or 25 year, but to be further honest not nearly as expensive as the 10 and 25 year vinegars)
The reductions can be a nice addition or finish to many dishes and come in many variations or flavors. They do tend to have sugar added or natural sugars through infused fruits.
What ever your choice of that perfect Balsamico I hope that this blog post offers you a little more insight to this popular and wonderful staple that every kitchen should have.
You Gotta Try This!