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Balsamic vinegar is more than just another condiment. This is a very popular dressing for salads not just because of the pleasant flavor that it adds but also because it is much healthier than other dressings. Imagine, other dressings can easily ruin the nutritional value of one serving of salad because of the added calories, oil and other unhealthy ingredients. On the other hand, this type of vinegar will heighten the flavor of your salad while keeping it ideal even for people who are on a strict diet.
Contrary to the common misconception of other people, use of balsamic vinegar is not merely limited to salads. This is also a good addition to other dishes and recipes. Even professional chefs prefer to use this for their exquisite meat and chicken dishes. It easily makes the meat more tender and adds an interesting flavor. It is also perfect for fish and chips because of the rich taste that it adds.
The taste of this type of vinegar is slightly different from the typical vinegar that we use. It is also sour and tangy but it has a milder taste. As it touches the tongue it would not give a sharp and acidic taste.
When buying balsamic vinegar, you need to understand that there are two major types—commercial and traditional. Commercial ones are produced and manufactured in great volume by companies which use machineries to speed up the process. These also have great taste especially if you are able to find the brand that really suits your preferences. Take note that different manufacturers may also add slight variation to the flavor. On the other hand, traditional ones or the Balsamico Tradizional are made by doing the age-old process. These often cost much more expensive than the commercially produced ones, particularly because it has a more sumptuous taste. If you feel like splurging on the most authentic traditional one, look for a bottle that is made in Italy and labeled as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. The real deal is also approved by the Italian consortium.
In Italy the conventional way of doing balsamic vinegar starts with making the must or mosto. This comes from boiled grape juice. Freshly picked grapes have to be washed and squeezed. Then, the extract has to be boiled until the concentration level of sugar reaches up 1%.
The boiled extract will then be placed in wooden barrels called battaria. These are often made of chestnut, cherry, oak or ash. The type of wood used for the barrel will also affect the flavor. Makers of Balsamico Tradizional usually have six or more barrels which differ in capacity. They fill these barrels to the rim so that the sugar will be transformed to acid. The barrels are sealed with a cloth mesh to enable the liquid to evaporate and reduce.
For conventional method of making balsamic vinegar, it takes about 5 years before the first liter can be enjoyed. How come the authentic and traditional vinegar could cost almost like a vintage wine of bottle? It is because this takes about 12 years before bottling and selling. The more years it takes before it is sold, the more expensive it gets.