Balsamic vinegar is a dark, sweet Italian vinegar which, traditionally, has been matured in wooden barrels and is a uniquely versatile ingredient which can be used in everything from risotto to a topping for strawberries or vanilla ice cream.
Balsamic vinegar is an excellent condiment to have as a pantry staple. It keeps indefinitely if stored in a cool dark place as it does not continue to mature, or the taste alter.
The process – How is balsamic vinegar made?
This may be surprising, but balsamic vinegar is not an ingredient to use in cooking. If you heat balsamic vinegar it tends to lose its distinctive taste. As it is a vinegar, it does have an acidic taste, however it is difficult to adequately describe the flavour. The taste is not sour, but not bitter and has an element of perfectly balanced sweetness. It is between those two flavours which is unique and equally delicious when used sparingly.
Balsamic vinegar is a unique vinegar – it is a very dark, intensely flavored vinegar, has almost a syrup texture, which is flavored by grape juice with all the skins, seeds, and stems. Traditionally, it is left to age in barrels for several years, with no barrel ever being completely emptied.
The balsamic component is made from freshly crushed white grapes. Traditional balsamic is made from pressed white grapes that is boiled to a syrup, fermented, and then aged for several years in barrels. Modern balsamic vinegar is made via a much quicker process, being aged anywhere between two (2) months to three (3) years.
The perfect addition to many dishes – How can I use balsamic vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar has a large variety of uses, and its distinctive velvety taste means it can be used on a wide variety of dishes.
On steamed vegetables such as broccoli or broccolini, it is used commonly to bring out the flavours within the vegetables, or surprisingly, it is also an excellent accompaniment to desserts such as berries or vanilla ice-cream. Other uses include being the primary ingredient for dips or topping your salads where it is an incredible flavoursome dressing.
It is an amazing salad dressing, giving any salad a zesty taste, which is just divine. It is very easy to dress a salad with just balsamic vinegar which will leave a rich velvety taste in your mouth, all you need to do is lightly drizzle over your salad and it is done, with nothing more to add.
Whilst it made not sound like the perfect dressing for strawberries and ice-cream, drizzling a few drops over your dessert will not disappoint.
Mistakes to avoid!
One of the most common mistakes when cooking with balsamic vinegar is overheating it. When overheated or over cooked balsamic vinegar will turn very sticky and has the potential to ruin the dish. It is best used at the end of your dish, where it will not overheat and ruin the flavour.
Balsamic vinegar is quite strong in terms of flavour, so it is therefore essential it is used sparingly so as to enhance the flavour of the dish, not overpower it. Never overcompensate or try to use too much. Subtlety is always best!
Fridge or pantry – where to store balsamic vinegar
There is large debate about whether balsamic vinegar is best stored in the fridge or in a cool dark place. However, traditional balsamic vinegar will last for years if stored in your pantry. If it is stored in the fridge, it has a tendency to thicken and will be required to be brought to room temperature to be able to be used again.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with this condiment in a vast variety of dishes, sweet, savory, cheese, risotto, spaghetti bolognaise – you will not be disappointed.
Are there any health benefits associated with Balsamic vinegar?
There are some reported potential health benefits of regularly using genuine balsamic vinegar which include lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar, improving blood circulation, and improving skin health.
As balsamic vinegar is packed with antioxidants, it is these antioxidants that can help improve skin health over time and also possibly assisting in lowering cholesterol.
It is the probiotics found in balsamic vinegar that can help make you feel fuller for longer, which will result in fewer calories being consumed. This is particularly useful if balsamic vinegar is added to food during the earlier part of the day.
As balsamic vinegar traditionally does not contain many calories, low in sugar and does not contain fat, it makes for a tasty accompaniment to many versatile foods.
Robinvale Estate – Balsamic Vinegar products
Robinvale Estate produces a quality range of balsamic products, including caramelised balsamic’s that are perfect for those looking to try something a little out of the box in terms of a salad dressing or sauce.
With many diverse product combinations such as Caramelised Blueberry Balsamic, Caremelised Raspberry Balsamic and Caramelised Fig Balsamic, there is something suitable for everyone.
Take a look at our full balsamic range here.