Does your pantry include both Balsamic Glaze or Balsamic Vinegar? No longer thought of as specialty items, these both seem to be readily available.
What Is Balsamic Vinegar
Quality Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy is labelled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale with the D.O.P. stamp (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta”). Similar to real champagne, there is a strict certification process that must be completed in order to carry this stamp.
True Balsamic Vinegaris developed of whole pressed grapes and aged in wooden barrels for 12 – 25 years. In addition, it gets thicker and more concentrated as it ages so is classed by age. The grading is affinato (fine), aged 12-years, vecchio (old), aged 15-20 years; or extra vecchio (extra old), aged 20-25 years.
So then you have to ask, does quality really matter? Well, most of the time, the answer is yes.
Affordable Balsamic Vinegar and Labels
A more affordable selection is Balsamic Vinegarof Modena with the I.G.P. stamp (Protected Geographical Indication).
Once you become a label-reader you are no longer surprised to discover ingredients in any seemingly straightforward product, even vinegar. These two bottles have an ingredient list, although they are gluten free. Our Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar specialist suggest buying anything from Italy if possible.
Artificial Balsamic Vinegar
Aisle grocery store Balsamic Vinegar is most likely artificial. If the label was marked “imitation” or “artificial” you might think twice before purchasing that balsamic vinegar. Usually these commercial grade Balsamic Vinegars are more likely wine vinegar with added sugar and artificial ingredients.
Using Balsamic Vinegar
This is how our Balsamic Vinegar specialist suggest you use Balsamic Vinegar:
- Mixed with an extra virgin olive oil for dipping pieces of fresh bread, gluten free of course
- In a simple homemade salad dressing of oil and vinegar
- As a marinade for balsamic marinated grilled vegetables
Balsamic Glaze and How to Use It
Balsamic glaze is a condiment from Italy and can be called glassa or crema. Simply put, a reduction of Balsamic Vinegar. If you can not find it you can make it. Bring 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil then simmer until it is reduced to ¼ cup.
If you decide to purchase it, you will see. However, one look at the label and you see an ingredient list. The label for this glaze is written in Italian and it contains ‘goma di xantano’
Here are my three incredible ways to use balsamic glaze:
- Drizzled over cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and fresh basil on tiny picks, long skewers or even DIY style
- Drizzled over my salad ingredients, especially tomato and avocado, in a plastic container for lunch
- Drizzled over pasta or any dish that seems like it could use a little pick-me-up, the same way you would use soy sauce on Asian food