balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale, is a treasured
condiment made in the towns of Modena and Reggio in the Emilia-Romagna
region of Italy. Authentic balsamic vinegar is made in a similar
fashion as wine. The process begins with the unfermented juice
of grapes picked at their peak of ripeness. The grapes are crushed
and pressed into a juice called ‘mosto’ or must.
The must is then cooked and simmered for about 24 hours until
it has been reduced. The cooled juice is then transferred to
a ‘batteria’, a set of progressively smaller wooden
barrels made of different types of wood. The different woods
impart their own flavors and colors as the vinegar ages. The
juice is first placed in the largest barrel and allowed to mature.
Every year up to 30% of the volume evaporates. The juice is
then poured into the next smaller barrel to continue the process.
Traditionally, this process takes twelve years. It is not wonder
that authentic aceto balsamico tradizionale costs about $100
for about three ounces!
balsamic vinegars are not authentic and range greatly in taste,
quality and price. Many commercial vinegars carry the name
aceto balsamico di Modena, but they are distant copies of
the real thing.
For most of us, one hundred dollar balsamic
vinegar is probably not an option. You can however, find good
commercial balsamic vinegar in gourmet food stores. The rule
of thumb is the higher the price, the better the product.
Balsamic vinegar adds a unique layer of
flavor to recipes, especially when used as a splash to finish
Try these recipes using balsamic vinegar.
They may convince you to splurge on an expensive bottle that
you will want to keep hidden away for those special occasions.
Pan Roasted Peppers with Goat Cheese, Tuna
with Balsamic Mayonnaise, Salmon with Gingered Balsamic
Vinegar Sauce, Grilled Italian
Flank Steak, Chicken Breast
with Pear & Balsamic Vinegar, and Fruit
Salad with Gourmet Greens & Balsamic Varnish.