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Balsamic Vinegar

Nutritional Information

1 cup, balsamic vinegar

  • Calories 43
  • Calories from Fat 0
  • Amount%DV
  • Total Fat 0g0%
  • Saturated Fat 0g0%
  • Monounsaturated Fat 0g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
  • Cholestreol 0mg0%
  • Sodium 5mg0%
  • Potassium 5mg0%
  • Total Carbohydrate 0.1g0%
  • Dietary Fiber 0g0%
  • Sugars 0.1g
  • Protein 0g0%
  • Calcium 1mg0%
  • Iron 0mg0%
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 0%

Balsamic Vinegar on Wikipedia:

This article may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. More details may be available on the talk page. (August 2009) A bottle of Aceto Balsamico di Modena, aged for eight years.

Balsamic vinegar (Italian: aceto balsamico) is a condiment originating from Italy.

The original traditional product, made from a reduction of cooked grape juice and not a vinegar in the usual sense, has been made in Modena and Reggio Emilia[1] since the Middle Ages. The names ``Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena`` and ``Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia`` are protected by both the Denominazione di Origine Protetta and the European Union's Protected Designation of Origin. Traditional balsamic vinegar is highly appreciated and valued by chefs and gourmet food lovers.

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Modena), an inexpensive modern imitation of the traditional product, is today widely available and much better known. This is the kind commonly used for salad dressing together with oil.

The word balsamic refers to resinous substances made from balsam.[2]

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Classifications of balsamic vinegar

There are three types of balsamic vinegar:

Authentic traditional artisan balsamic vinegar, also known as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. Commercial grade balsamic vinegars produced on an industrial scale. Condimento grade products, which are often a mix of the two above.

Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale

Only two consortia produce true traditional balsamic vinegar, Modena and Reggio Emilia. True balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of syrup from sweet wine grapes, called mosto cotto in Italian, which is subsequently aged for a minimum of 12 years in a battery of seven barrels of successively smaller sizes. The casks are made of different woods like chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, ash, and, in the past, juniper. True balsamic vinegar is rich, glossy, deep brown in color and has a complex flavour that balances the natural sweet and sour elements of the cooked grape juice with hints of wood from the casks.

Reggio Emilia designates the different ages of their balsamic vinegar (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia) by label colour. A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years and a gold label that designates the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more[3].

Modena uses a different system to indicate the age of their balsamic vinegars (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena). A cream coloured cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years and a golden cap bearing the designation extravecchio shows the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more[3].

Condimento grade balsamic vinegar

Condimento balsamic vinegars may be labeled as condimento balsamico, salsa balsamica or salsa di mosto cotto. Condimento balsamic vinegar may be made in any of the following ways:

Made and aged in the traditional way in Modena or Reggio Emilia, but without consortium supervision and approval. Made by producers of tradizionale balsamic vinegars but aged less than the minimum 12 years so no consortium approval possible. Made by the same method as the tradizionale vinegars but made by producers located outside of Modena and Reggio Emilia provinces and not made under consortium supervision. Made of ordinary balsamic vinegar (see below) with the addition of reduced grape juice (mosto cotto) in varying proportions, without any aging.

As there are no official standards or labeling systems to designate condimento balsamic vinegars, it can be hard to tell their quality based on the packaging alone.[1].

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

These commercial grade products imitate the traditional product. They are made of wine vinegar with the addition of colouring, caramel and sometimes thickeners like guar gum or cornflour. There is no aging involved, and hundreds of thousands of litres can be produced every day.

Traditional processes

Barrels of balsamic vinegar aging in a maker's attic.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is produced from the juice of just-harvested white grapes (typically, trebbiano grapes) boiled down to approximately 30% of the original volume to create a concentrate or must, which is then fermented with a slow aging process which concentrates the flavours. The flavour intensifies over decades, with the vinegar being kept in wooden casks, becoming sweet, viscous and very concentrated. During this period, a proportion evaporates: it is said that this is the ``angels' share,`` a term also used in the production of scotch whisky, wine, and other alcoholic beverages.

None of the product may be withdrawn until the end of the minimum aging period of 12 years. At the end of the aging period (12, 18, or 25 years) a small proportion is drawn from the smallest cask and each cask is then topped up with the contents of the preceding (next largest) cask. Freshly reduced cooked must is added to the largest cask and in every subsequent year the drawing and topping up process is repeated. This process where the product is distributed from the oldest cask and then refilled from the next oldest vintage cask is called solera or in perpetuum.

Consortium-sealed Tradizionale balsamic vinegar 100 ml bottles can cost between US$100 and $400 each.

Uses

Three desserts in Modena with tradizionale balsamic vinegar: clockwise from left, zabaione, latte alla portoghese or crème caramel , and panna cotta.

Commercial grade balsamic vinegar is used in salad dressings, dips, marinades, reductions and sauces.

In Emilia Romagna, tradizionale vinegar is most often served in drops on top of chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano and Mortadella as an antipasto. It is also used sparingly to enhance steaks, eggs or grilled fish, as well as on fresh fruit such as strawberries and pears and on plain Crema (custard) gelato. Tradizionale vinegar has excellent digestive properties[citation needed] and it may even be drunk from a tiny glass to conclude a meal.

Contemporary chefs use both tradizionale and condimento vinegars sparingly in simple dishes where the balsamic vinegar's complex tastes are highlighted, using it to enhance dishes like scallops or shrimp, or on simple pastas and risottos.

References

^ a b Bertolli, Paul. ``Balsamic Vinegar is Italy's Famed Elixir``. Taunton's Fine Cooking. Taunton Press. http://www.finecooking.com/articles/balsamic-vinegar-famed-elixir.aspx. Retrieved 2006-08-20.  ^ Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary (11 ed.), Merriam-Webster, 2003, p. 95, ISBN 9780877798095, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=O78rzaI2XmUC&pg=RA1-PA95&dq=balsamic+balsam&lr=&client=firefox-a#v=onepage&q=balsamic%20balsam&f=false, retrieved 2009-10-10  ^ a b Harlan, Timothy S. (M.D.). ``Ask Dr. Gourmet``. Dr. Gourmet. Harlan Bros. Productions. http://www.drgourmet.com/askdrgourmet/balsamicvinegar.shtml. Retrieved 2006-08-20.