As international dining has gained popularity, people are becoming increasingly familiar with balsamic vinegar and what it can add to a meal. The rich and slightly sweet flavor of balsamic vinegar easily lends itself to salad dressings, marinades, and sauces while a dash can even add flavor to soups or stews. It can bring out the sweetness of fruits like raspberries, strawberries, and peaches and can add a spark of flavor to the classic Italian dish caprese. If you are curious about how this tasty addition to meals became so well-loved, read on to learn what exactly makes balsamic vinegar so special and how you can add it to your favorite recipes.
How Balsamic Vinegar is Made
Like many Italian food staples, balsamic vinegar has been around for hundreds of years. At least 900 years ago, vintners in the Modena region of Northern Italy were making balsamic vinegar, which was used as a tonic.
To create the vinegar, sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings are boiled down to a dark syrup and then aged. The syrup is placed into kegs with a vinegar “mother” and left to age. To qualify as balsamic vinegar, it must be aged for 12 years in wood. Over the years, the mixture graduates to smaller and smaller kegs of wood made from chestnut, cherrywood, ash, mulberry, and juniper, until it is ready to sell. As it ages, the wood adds more character to the vinegar while moisture evaporates out, thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor.
How to Select Balsamic Vinegar
The balsamic vinegar of top-quality will be labeled as aceto balsamico tradizionale, which indicates that it has been aged through the traditional Modena methods. If the price of the balsamic vinegar is very inexpensive, that might suggest that sulfites have been added to the vinegar as a preservative.
How to Store Balsamic Vinegar
Once you have purchased balsamic vinegar, it must be stored in a cool, dark place away from heat. Placing it in the cupboard will work just fine. The vinegar will not oxidize once opened and can keep indefinitely. If you see sediment settle in the bottle, don’t worry—that is a natural by-product of the aging process.
How to Enjoy Balsamic Vinegar
The most popular use of balsamic vinegar is as a topping you can drizzle over a plate of caprese. The vinegar adds a pop of flavor to the otherwise mild dish of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. The vinegar can also be used in small amounts with cooked or cured meats or grilled fish. You can also drizzle the vinegar over fresh fruits and berries, or even ice cream if you want to add a bit of a kick to your sweet foods.
Authentic Italian Cuisine From Giolitti Deli
Giolitti Deli is a full-service Delicatessen in Annapolis, MD, specializing in authentic Italian cuisine. Founded in 1992, we use the freshest ingredients to make time-honed recipes from scratch, with no MSG or preservatives. We believe in real food and offer many healthy options, including vegetarian and vegan menu items. At Giolitti Deli, we make our own sauces, mozzarella, grilled and roasted vegetables, bread, pizza dough, and desserts, and our sandwiches, salads, pasta, pizza, and entrees are made to order. Owner Mary Giolitti has combined her passion for great food and fine wine to offer Annapolis a true taste of Italy!
Team members who also make the business possible include Manager Kathy Hunter, Manager and Catering Director Cheryl Molesky, Head Baker Porfirio Diaz, Chef Alfredo Escobar, and Deli Manager Noe Merino. To contact us, please visit our contact page or give us a call at 410.266.8600. Also, be sure to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and our blog!