My son and his wife stayed with us for a few months last summer. We were remodeling our home and spent a lot of time outdoors so she offered to do all the cooking. It was quite a treat for me because she taught me some of her techniques and I got a break from cooking. She made a fantastic salad dressing using balsamic vinegar and it was then, that I realized I wanted to add it to my grocery list.
After they left I purchased a bottle at the store not knowing the less expensive brands don't measure up to the more pricey ones. This experience forced me to find out what makes a good balsamic vinegar and find one in my home town.
After I purchased this bottle, I was looking through my refrigerator to see what I needed to add to my grocery list and was delighted to find a tiny bottle of balsamic vinegar that had a few drops left in it. I knew my kids left it here. After carefully reading the label I could see why it was so good.
The recent contest inspired me to make an instructable on balsamic vinegar and that is how I discovered this secret technique or so I thought. More on that later.
Follow through and I will share what I have learned during this adventure and how to make a better tasting balsamic vinegar using the less expensive brands.
Step 1: Balsamic Vinegar
I did a little research about balsamic vinegar because I wanted to purchase a good brand that I could afford. I learned that a lot of the cheaper brands have a large water content and a long list of ingredients. I also learned that the better brands usually list where they were bottled, how long the bottle was aged, what type of grapes where used and if I recall, the region where the grapes were grown. The better brands usually have a thicker consistency more like a light syrup that will stay put when dribbled onto a plate. I purchased a couple bottles but they did not have the really good flavor that was in the small bottle that my daughter -in-law left here. The bottle above had two ingredients Red wine vinegar and grape musts. It was aged 4 years in wood.
With that said: I would like to mention that I have changed my cooking habits, like many of you, for the past ten years or so, mainly because of the long list of ingredients on the packaging labels. A couple of days ago I read an article on Yahoo news about an interview with Campbell's Soup CEO. Hey everyone they are paying attention to the consumers buying habits and have plans to change in the next couple of years. No GMO's, food coloring or high corn syrup and let's hope other companies will follow.
Anyway . . . .here is how I discovered the technique I will be sharing:
I decided to make a bottle of chocolate balsamic vinegar and cooked the balsamic vinegar over the stove to make it thicker. I discovered that cooking it gave it a richer flavor and creamier texture. I thought I was on to something. Well, as it turns out; I was making a vinegar reduction. I have to chuckle about that; I always say knowledge is power.
I did not take pictures of the balsamic vinegar before I cooked it; but it had a very runny texture, much lighter appearance and the flavor was just not there. There were just enough drops left in the tiny bottle of good stuff to compare it to. The one on the left was the reduction and the one on the right was the good stuff. The reduction did not make the less expensive mixture equal to the good stuff, but it tasted a whole lot better and might pass off as a good middle priced brand.
I will be using this method in the future by adding herbs and seasonings and make some homemade versions. Let's get cooking . . .
Step 2: Ingredients
You will appreciate the short list.
Ingredients and utensils:
1 bottle of inexpensive balsamic vinegar.
A non-reactive heavy bottomed sauce pan; preferably stainless or something light in color so you can view the color changes of the liquid , large spoon or heat proof spatula,funnel, and hot pad or towel.
Patience and overhead vent or open the window. The vinegar cooking will smell very strong.
Save the bottle and lid to store the balsamic vinegar.
Step 3: Cook
Set the timer for 20 minutes and cook over medium low heat stirring frequently and watching closely to prevent the balsamic vinaigrette from burning.
While your waiting sterilize the bottle and lid.
You will know when it is ready when the back of the spoon has a light coating and the vinegar has been reduced to about half.
Remove from the heat.
Step 4: Cool
Place the hot pan on a towel or hot pad to cool for several minutes.
Using the funnel pour the mixture into the sterilized bottle and put the lid back on.
As you can see there is only about a half of a bottle left.I didn't actually start with a whole bottle because I had already used some of it for other recipes.
Step 5: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts
We liked the newer version of the balsamic and I have been using it on vegetables and tomatoes from our garden, and fresh strawberries. It inspired me to made an olive oil ice cream that was screaming for balsamic vinegar.
This method is a great way to experiment with a new recipe before using the more pricey brands. I hope you try this method on the next bottle you purchase. The more you know has become my moto. Instructables has a way of making sure we all learn something here.
I wish to thank contributors for making instructables what it is today. Thanks so much for stopping by and do have a safe and happy summer.
Participated in the
Cooking Basics Challenge