Balsamic vinegar and its secrets

by alex masca

Balsamic vinegar of Modena is a dark brown Italian vinegar based on grape must. Why is it called so? The word "balsamic" means "curative", The traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region since the Middle Ages, when it was invented and named. Balsamic vinegar has been around for centuries - maybe even millennia. Its exact origins are unknown, but it is thought that the first batch was created in Modena, Italy during the Middle Ages. And from its beginnings until now, one thing has remained consistent: unfermented grape juice has always been (and still is) at its center. There are in fact several laws on the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC) that regulate every phase of the production of authentic balsamic vinegar, such as which grapes can be used and how much sugar can go in each bottle. Clearly "balsa-mic" is not just any seasoning - it takes a lot of time and effort to do correctly!

What is hidden behind a bottle of balsamic vinegar? This vinegar is made from Trebbiano grapes grown in Modena, in particular in the hilly area. The grapes are crushed, after the harvest, and their juice is reduced to about 50% of the volume. It is thus obtained a dense liquid called "must". But the history of this product is still long, in fact it is aged for 12 years in wooden barrels. These barrels have different sizes, the larger ones allow a greater evaporation and consequently the final product will have a greater content of sugar and the taste will be sweeter and more intense. After 12 years it is bottled and used as a condiment or sauce. Some products are aged for 25 years in barrels!

What is the main ingredient of traditional balsamic vinegar?
As already mentioned, since the Middle Ages it has always been thought that unfermented grape juice is the main ingredient of this product. However, not everyone agrees with this statement.
Many think that the main ingredient of balsamic vinegar is wine, while others say that the center of this preparation is grape syrup or must.
However, experts agree with the first hypothesis, the main ingredient of traditional balsamic vinegar is unfermented grape juice (although it has a very detailed and time-consuming production process).

Why is it so good?
Balsamic vinegar is a precious asset in the culinary world, but why? It has a very intense flavor, a flavor different from all other vinegars. It can also be used in many preparations, you can season salads or savory dishes but it is also added to desserts or cocktails. 

Balsamic vinegar combines perfectly with ingredients that come directly from the earth such as figs or apricots but also with mushrooms and ginger.

So friends with the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena you can do only one thing: EXPERIMENT!

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