'True’ authentic Balsamic Vinegar is an artisan product from Modena, in Emilia Romagna, Italy, and is created with grape must (juice) that is simmered to make a concentrate, allowed to ferment, then, for a minimum of 12 years, matured in barrels of progressively decreasing size, created from a variety of woods in order to convey these different flavours. The end result is generally dark, rich and syrupy and to be used very every once in awhile.
In addition, the real thing will be marked with 'tradizionale' and/or DOC and will be expensive. You can also purchase the more affordable, industrially made 'aceto balsamico di Modena', which uses vinegar as well as grape must; as it's not aged for so long, the flavours won't be as strong.
Availability Of Balsamic Vinegar
For true authentic Balsamic Vinegar, always search for the terms tradizionale/DOC or aceto balsamico di Modena. Usually, affordable Balsamic Vinegars are just masquerading as either of the above and will have been coloured and flavoured with caramel - although they're fine for salad dressings and glazes, they won't have the same true authentic intensity of flavour.
Storing Balsamic Vinegar
We suggest that you store your Balsamic Vinegar in a cool, dark cupboard.
Cooking Ideas With Balsamic Vinegar
Add just a few drops of Balsamic Vinegar to ripe strawberries, slices of well-aged parmesan cheese or very good quality vanilla ice cream.
Brush aceto balsamico di Modena Balsamic Vinegar over roasting chicken or duck breasts, shake some over grilled tuna steaks, drizzle over tomato salads or stir a little into a roast vegetable pasta sauce.
Alternative Balsamic Vinegars
Try Cherry Balsamic Vinegar or red wine Balsamic Vinegar.