The Sweet and the Sour

Picture of balsamic vinegarBalsamic vinegar is very popular, due to it’s rich, sweet characteristics.

It features prominently in many Italian recipes.

It is so sweet in fact that it can also be used in desserts.

Unlike most vinegar, Balsamic vinegar is not derived from wine but from newly pressed grape juice.

In its most traditional form, balsamic vinegar is made from the Trebbiano grape, which flourishes in the Modena region of Italy.

It is aged by transferring between barrels made from oak, chestnut, juniper or cherry, ash and finally mulberry. The transferring from one barrel to the other is known as ‘rincalzo’, which normally takes place in spring.

Throughout the prolonged aging process it gradually evaporates, requiring incrementally smaller barrels. Due to the dramatically reduced yield from the original volume of  grape juice, balsamic vinegar is quite expensive.

The most authentic balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena, is one of the most expensive liquids on earth. It is aged and blended for up to fifty years and each bottle is signed and numbered.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Drizzle this simple and delicious dressing on your favorite garden salad, which goes great with Italian food.

  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  1. Blend garlic clove with a little salt.
  2. Add  Balsamic vinegar and half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
  3. While continuing to blend, gradually add extra virgin olive oil until a smooth emulsion is formed.
  4. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

 Balsamic Strawberries

One of my all time favourite uses is with strawberries. Yes, you read correctly! The following is a pretty standard and well-known recipe. You could also add a little cracked black pepper.

  • 500g  strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  1. Wash and drain strawberries, then remove the hull.
  2. Cut the strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.
  3. Gently toss the strawberries with the vinegar and sugar.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving with double cream.
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