Learn About Balsamic Vinegar

Author: Chef Toby

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What is balsamic vinegar?

Balsamic vinegar is a kind of vinegar that originates from Italy and is popular all over the world. Traditionally, it is made with grape pressings that are boiled and left to age for many years in wooden barrels. The northern Italian region of Modena, where this vinegar comes from, has been producing the condiment for over nine hundred years. The vinegar itself has a thick, syrup-like consistency and brown color. 

What does balsamic vinegar taste like?

Balsamic vinegar has a very sharp flavor that is rich, tart, and slightly sweet. 

How do you use balsamic vinegar?

You can use balsamic vinegar in a variety of ways, in both savory and sweet recipes. It is a common ingredient in salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. Hot bread with a small dish of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a common appetizer at Italian restaurants and is a great way to sample the vinegar. Balsamic’s slight sweetness also makes it a great companion to fruits like peaches, raspberries, tomatoes, and strawberries

Learn About Balsamic Vinegar

Where do you buy balsamic vinegar?

You can find balsamic vinegar at any major grocery store. Look for it in the aisle where salad dressings and wine vinegars are located. 

How do you store balsamic vinegar?

Store balsamic vinegar in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or a cupboard. Vinegar does not oxidize, so it will be safe to eat for a long time. Because vinegar is a fermented product, it has an everlasting, indefinite shelf life.

Fun fact about balsamic vinegar:

For vinegar to qualify as traditional balsamic, it must be aged for at least twelve years. Some varieties of balsamic vinegar have been aged for over a century!

Did you know?

There are three grades of balsamic vinegar: commercial-grade, condiment-grade, and traditional. Commercial-grade is the least expensive variety and is the most commonly found at the grocery store. Condiment grade and traditional grade are a bit more pricey but are considered to be tastier and of better quality.

Recipes Using Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic Vinaigrette

This classic salad dressing is great on spinach salads topped with fruits and nuts. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and mustard until it is fully combined. Experiment with additional flavorings like garlic, shallot, dried herbs, and even fruit puree, like raspberry.

Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

Balsamic glaze is a tangy, intense topping for desserts, fruit, cheeses, and more. To make it, pour the balsamic vinegar into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. At this stage, feel free to add some brown sugar or honey if you like a sweeter glaze. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vinegar thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Cherry Balsamic and Goat Cheese Crostini

On a baking sheet, spread a even layer of pitted cherries and season them with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, and thyme. Bake the cherries in the oven until they are soft. On toasted baguette slices, spread a teaspoon of goat cheese and top with the balsamic glazed cherries.

Sweet Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream and Nuts

Make this tangy and sweet dessert using fruit, cheese, and balsamic vinegar. In a blender, combine ricotta cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. In a saucepan, combine strawberries, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Boil the strawberries for three minutes, and remove them with a slotted spoon. Continue cooking the balsamic and maple mixture until it thickens into a glaze. Serve the strawberries with the ricotta cream, glaze, and toasted almonds or cashews.

Balsamic Roasted Chickpeas

Bake chickpeas seasoned with balsamic vinegar for a tangy, crunch snack. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place drained chickpeas onto the foil. Season with the vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake the chickpeas until crispy, and enjoy them alone or as a substitute for croutons on salads or soups.

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