What Makes Balsamic Vinegar Balsamic? Can It Be Made at Home?

What makes balsamic vinegar balsamic? Can it be made at home?

Balsamic vinegar, "aceto balsamico" in Italian, is in no way easy to make at home.

For starters, it's not even really vinegar.

Real vinegar comes from the fermentation of alcohol into acetic acid.

Indeed, the word vinegar comes from the Old French"vinaigre," which means"sour wine."

Balsamic vinegar, in contrast, is made from the juice of white Trebbiano grapes, the next most widely planted grape globally. Juice from Lambrusco grapes or other varieties may be blended in, also.

The juice, or "mosto," is boiled down, or reduced, to make a thick syrup called "mosto cotto."

Then some powerful, older balsamic vinegar "mother of vinegar" -- is added to make sure that the ideal microorganisms are present to turn sugar into alcohol and alcohol into acetic acid.

The microorganisms then go to work gradually as the syrup is aged over at least 12 years at a series of successively smaller wooden barrels made of different woods, such as chestnut, acacia, cherry, oak, mulberry, and ash. Juniper wood can be utilized, as well.

The process requires meticulous care.

The barrels gradually break down but are repeatedly reinforced to maintain them intact, because they maintain from the valuable microorganisms that do the real job of transformation.

Truly authentic aceto balsamico is made in Modena or Reggio Emilia in Italy.

Imitation balsamic vinegars are made by adding colorings and flavorings to vinegar. They are cheaper and easier to produce in large quantities but a very long way from the genuine article in taste.

Balsamic vinegar may have curative properties, but that has not been well researched. It is a fantastic bet that the polyphenolic compounds present in the grapes are healthy.

But probably the greatest medicinal benefit is the good feeling derived from the pleasure of swallowing balsamic vinegar.