Balsamic vinegar is an excellent taste enhancer and lends its sweet and unique flavor to salads and gourmet sauces. A mere sprinkling on fruits such as raspberries and pears, imparts excellent flavor to the salad dressings. Contemporary chefs in upmarket restaurants have been using this condiment for years, to enhance the taste of all-time favorite pastas and risottos. This dark-colored vinegar made its arrival in the US kitchens somewhat late, but owing to its richness, it has now become a favorite among ladies.
Balsamic vinegar is easily available in the market, but generally the making of this vinegar doesn't follow the traditional method of preparation. The vinegars in the market are also not properly aged, lending them an artificial flavor. You can thus try to make it on your own using the authentic method of preparation. Let me also make it clear that making balsamic vinegar is not easy, and it might take some time to gain expertise in the process.
Making Balsamic Vinegar
The more you 'age' the vinegar the better it tastes; this is the secret behind a cook's recipe for balsamic vinegar. Let's now get into discussing the actual process of making vinegar. You need two chief ingredients - grapes and wooden barrels. While making vinegar, fermentation and aging are two key aspects.
Autumn is the best season to make balsamic vinegar, as this is also the season of grapes. There are plenty of variety of grapes, but to make balsamic vinegar, the use of Trebbiano, Ancellotta, Lambrusco, and Sauvignon varieties of grapes are preferred.
Step 1: Balsamic vinegar makes use of the juice of grapes called 'must' for making vinegar. This juice is prepared by squeezing the grapes. Once you have made the juice of grapes, boil it in a pot to form a thick juice, the quantity of which should reduce by 30-35%.
Step 2: Keep the wooden barrels ready and clean. The wooden barrels must be of cherry wood, oak wood or chest wood. Using these woods enhances the flavor of vinegar, and each wood imparts its own flavor. Fill the grape juice in the wooden barrels (wooden barrels come in various sizes, depending on which you have to choose the quantity of grapes). Each year, the type of wood of the barrel can be changed, which imparts it with a strong flavor.
Step 3: Cover the barrels with a mesh cloth and place them at a safe place. This is the time when the bacteria start the fermentation process. The vinegar should be given at least six months to ferment, after which it can be tasted. Once you have made sure that the vinegar has obtained the perfect taste, fill it in glass bottles and seal them.
Apart from its extensive use in dressing the salads and imparting flavor, there are many other health benefits of balsamic vinegar. It is high in antioxidants, and helps in keeping the free radicals at bay. It is also said to play a role in the control of diabetes and prevention of cancer. It also reduces the risk of cancer, and other heart diseases, and is a natural pain reliever.
Hope, you got an idea of how to make balsamic vinegar through this write-up. Have fun!