About Balsamic Vinegar
Ah balsamico! It’s a nearly-black expensive vinegar with a certain mystery. True balsamic, made from an ancient process in Modena, Italy perhaps shouldn’t be called vinegar at all since the process by which it’s made is nothing like that of other vinegars.
How Balsamic is Made
Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, specific grapes in a fermentation process taking at least twelve years. The grape must (skins and pulp from fresh grapes), is simmered over an open fire for hours, then aged in in a series of barrels varying in size and wood. The combination of long, slow cooking and aging creates a thick, sweet nectar used for hundreds of years as a condiment to enliven many foods from salads to soups to meats to dessert.
Only locally grown fresh grapes can be used in traditional balsamic; Occhio de Gatto, Spergola, Berzemino, and Lambrusco, and the favored, white Trebbiano. The must is then put in a battery of barrels ranging in size from 75 to 10 litres typically beginning in a large oak barrel and then moving to different woods in smaller sizes over the twelve year period.
The word balsamic, from the Latin balsamam, means tonic or curative. Balsamic was first used as a post-meal tonic to aid digestion or sooth an upset stomach. Today we know that balsamic, authentically made, levels blood sugar and aids digestion. It is also loaded with antioxidants; more than blueberries. That’s one tasty medicine!