About Balsamic Vinegar
History of Balsamic Vinegar
Until very recently balsamic vinegar was relatively unknown outside of
Italy. Now due to the backing of celebrity chefs, exposure in gourmet
food magazines and countless appearances on television cooking
programmes there is hardly a household in the land without a bottle in
the kitchen cupboard. However, most of the bottles have been bought from
a supermarket and consequently most people have still yet to taste
truly authentic balsamic vinegar, or aceto balsamico tradizionale as it
is known in Italian. Read more about the history of balsamic vinegar.
Making balsamic vinegar
The production of authentic balsamic vinegar resembles that of wine
making. It is made from the unfermented juice of local grapes,
traditionally, the white Trebbiano, although other varietals including
the red Lambrusco are allowed too. The grapes are left on the vine for
as long as possible, prior to crushing, to "snatch from nature its very
last sunbeam". The resultant must is then cooked down in open pots over a
direct flame and simmered for 24 to 30 hours, until it becomes an
intensely sweet concentrate and reduced in volume by at least one-half.
The must, known as mosto cotto, is then cooled and stored in barrels for
six months to allow the sediment to settle before being transferred to a
batteria ( a set of progressively smaller wooden barrels). The
batterias are stored in vinegar attics, called acetaie, normally on the
top floor of the house, to ferment, evaporate, and age over a minimum of
12 years until it becomes a complex, aromatic, intensely sweet, syrupy
condiment. Read more about the making of balsamic vinegar.
Types of balsamic vinegar
There are four types of balsamic vinegar available today, these include Artisan which is an authentic vinegar made in the traditional way. Read more about the types of balsamic vinegars.