Ingredient of the Week: Balsamic Vinegar

balsvin.jpg
Lexnger
To continue my Italian kick, this week, I present balsamic vinegar, which you can combine with past featured ingredients such as the roma tomato and Genovese basil to make a refreshing pasta salad for those summer picnics and barbecues.

What is it?

From Italy, balsamic vinegar was originally made by cooking white Trebbiano grapes down to a reduction, therefore not technically making it a vinegar. The true and traditional balsamic vinegars come from the Italian cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Their names--Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia--are protected by the European Union, preserving their designation of origin. Balsamic vinegar has a rich and tart flavor with a slight hint of sweetness.

How do I use it?

Many of the balsamic vinegars we see in the grocery store are commercial grade vinegars, and they're great used in salad dressings, sauces, marinades, reductions and dips. You can add it to such fresh fruits as berries and peaches to bring out their flavors.

Heat sweetens balsamic vinegar and lowers its acidity; if you want to take it down a notch, cook it. If you want to preserve its strong flavor, add it at the end, right before serving.

Where can I find it?

At any grocery store in the oil and vinegar aisle.

Recipe: Antipasto Salad
Try taking traditional antipasto and turning into a pasta salad for those hot summer days.

What do you do with your balsamic vinegar?



Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords
My Voice Nation Help
9 comments
s h a w
s h a w

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (in substitution of grain-based vinegar) over boiled or fried (chinese) dumplings.

Stacy Zane
Stacy Zane

I just add it to some olive oil, sprinkle some fresh cracked pepper on top, dip my bread in, and BAM. Delicious.

Christine Ha
Christine Ha

It seems like everyone is using it in a reduction sauce. I'll have to try this next time.

trisch
trisch

Drizzled over sliced avocados. Reduced and drizzled over strawberries and whipped cream.

Jeff
Jeff

I just recently -- last few years -- began liking balsamic vinegar. I just recently used a reduction of it with grapes for a baked chicken dish that was outstanding. I never thought I would like vinegar, but I've really grown to like it a lot.

trisch
trisch

Actually, if you shell out for a really good aged balsamic, you don't even need to reduce it.  It'll already have a full body and a luscious, deep sweet flavor.  With the really nice ones, I've been known to sneak a swig on occasion. ;)  Or try Saba -- it's made from grape must and is beautiful, thick, deep, tangy and sweet.  Wonderful over ice cream or fruit.

Christine Ha
Christine Ha

How much are we talking about here? Is it like buying truffle?

trisch
trisch

They can get into the stratosphere like truffles, but you can get some really nice 25-year balsamic vinegars for $1.50-$3 an ounce. Saba is in that range as well. Central Market has some good selections, and I'm sure if you poke around in some of the Italian specialty delis/importers you'll find some keepers. Enjoy!

Guest
Guest

The only thing I buy at Whole Foods is the 365 Balsamic, procuced in Italy, superb and reasonably priced.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...