Balsamic vinegar is an authentic product of Italy. The making of balsamic vinegar is truly an art. It is similar to wine, only because grapes are the main ingredient – the preparation varies significantly.
A process called “aged reduction” is used wherein white grapes, namely Trebbiano or Spergola, are boiled in uncovered copper cauldrons. After cooking the grapes continuously and slowly for a long time, the moisture content is reduced to less than 50%. The resulting liquid is the consistency of thick syrup and is called the “must.”
Next, the complicated aging process begins. The “must” is transferred to big wood vats. A portion of aged balsamic vinegar (older) is poured into the container as well, which causes the solution to become acetous, a process called acetification.
The acetification process of balsamic vinegar usually lasts twelve years. Once every year, the “must” is poured into a newer, smaller barrel, of differing wood types. These varieties of popular wood, oak, cherry, chestnut, ash and wild cherry add flavors to the balsamic vinegar, making the end product rich and pleasing to the palate. The most unique flavors are added when juniper and mulberry wood vats are used, however, these woods are harder to obtain.
Your recipe is only going to be as good as the quality ingredients you use, especially when it comes to balsamic vinegar. Don’t be confused when you see a bottle of $5.00 balsamic vinegar on the shelf right next to one priced at $35.00. It is probable that the $5.00 bottle is not truly balsamic, but an inexpensive commercially produced vinegar. If you were able to taste test the two, you would be able to truly determine the quality of the balsamic vinegar. Your best bet is to read the labels and make an educated assumption that the inexpensive balsamic vinegar product, may not be of the best quality. Remember, it is required to be aged at least 12 years.
Reggio Emilia, lists three quality Balsamic Italian Vinegars:
• 12 years aged, indicated with a Red level or label.
• 20 years aged, indicated with a Silver level or label.
• 30-40 years ages designated with a Gold level or label.
Superior balsamic vinegars are aged 25 to 50 years. Their consistency is like that of a liqueur. This genuine Italian “aged reduced” balsamic vinegar will be found in 3.4 ounce containers and priced at $60.00 to $700.00 per bottle. Do not pour, but use by the drop.
[tags] balsamic vinegar, balsamico [/tags]