Top Tips for Using Balsamic Vinegar
There are hundreds of uses for good balsamic... variations upon variations. Here we'll highlight the top 10 most fabulous and creative ways to use this dark, concentrated and intensely flavored vinegar.
🍇 Balsamic's name is derived from the root word balm or balsam (like the tree). Meaning to heal and revive. 🍇
Probably the most popular use of balsamic- as a salad seasoning vinaigrette.
What is so lovely about a balsamic vinaigrette is that it can be delicious with just a little EVOO or blended with a myriad of seasonings, spices and aromatics. Versatile vinegar.
Flavor infused balsamics bring even more salad joy to the table- making it easier (and faster) to craft a tasty salad.
In the same tone as balsamic vinegar's versatility in the salad realm, same is true with marinating.
Acidity is a necessity when marinating. This tenderizes as well as infuses flavor- making for memorable grilled, broiled or pan seared meals.
Meat is not the only one rewarded by balsamic marination, veggies share equally in the deliciousness.
The result is juicy, well seasoned and wickedly flavorful. Think of substituting balsamic vinegar in your next marinading recipe.
If you think about all the homemade sauce recipes that call for a touch of acid: bbq sauce, steak sauce, pasta sauce, pesto, chimichurri, hollandaise, sweet and sour, salsa...It's surprising that we haven't infiltrated balsamic into the whole wide sauce world!
Balsamic vinegar adds a deliciously tangy punch to ordinary sauces, a great substitution for the boring ol' apple cider or white vinegars. Not to mention, the nice sweetness factor-a great pantry staple ingredient when trying to avoid added sugar.
🍇 Balsamic' vinegar is aged in wood barrels, like wine. 🍇
The reduced glazed drizzle...the stuff culinary dreams are made of.
The older the balsamic the less likely the need for heat-aided reducing, it's nicely thickened and flavors concentrated already through the aging process. The younger balsamics might need some assistance. Adding a cup or so to a sauce pan, simmering until it has reduced by half and then refrigerating-easy peasy glaze. Then the magic can happen...
Drizzle over grilled meats, fresh cheeses, charcuterie or the delicious classic... caprese salad.
Yes! Desserts, fabulous desserts, are made using balsamic vinegar! It has been an industry secret for decades (and one that Italy has been holding close to the chest for centuries).
Drizzled over gelato or ice cream for a nice caramel-like twang. Whisked into sweet dessert sauces, baked into cakes, swirled into sorbets or simmered into pie fillings (mmmmm...strawberry balsamic cream pie....) balsamic is the perfect ingredient for decadent desserts.
6. Relish, Jams and Pickles
Acidity is necessary for making successful preserves, pickles and relishes.
Instead of just opting in for the usual plain vinegars get playful with balsamic.
Personal favorites are onion relishes simmered and preserved with balsamic, fruit jams flavored with balsamic (cherry jam with balsamic is spectacular) or spicy Italian giardiniera with balsamic.
Worried about discoloration? Add as little or as much as you'd like depending on the fruit or vegetable in question.
🍇 Modena and Emilia Reggio are the two regions most responsible for the world's balsamic 🍇
The wonderful world of condiments is made that much brighter by balsamic.
Whisked into mayonnaise for a lively aioli or sandwich spread. Stirred in with mustard for slight sweetness (great with sausages or cured meats). Substituted for boring distilled vinegar for homemade ketchups.
Even sweeter spreads like peanut butter and jelly get a nice tang with the addition of aged balsamic.
8. Flavor Enhancers
We've all heard of the importance of balancing flavors. 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat' popularity ensured our adherence to flavor harmony. Balsamic vinegar accomplishes just that. When it comes to flavor enhancements, balsamic does so via acidity, like you would add a splash of wine or a squeeze of lemon. It adds a level of brightness to dishes like: stews and soups-mellowing the unctuous and melding flavors. Deployed as a secret ingredient, balsamic elevates existing ingredients. Everyday recipes like: meatloaf, pasta sauce, chicken cacciatore, meatballs and even stir fry...a little drizzle and then WOW!
🍇 Balsamic was first created as a drinkable tonic in the Middle Ages. 🍇
Tonics, tinctures, punches, flips, sours and sidecars are all elevated by using balsamic.
Vinegar-based cocktails have come back around as an en vogue beverage enhancer. Adding stunning balance, acidity and leveled sweetness to the mixologist's bag of tricks.
For those looking for a more '0' proof approach to mixology, balsamic gives a level of sophistication that would otherwise be missed without the use of alcohol.
10. Braising and Roasting
It is amazing what wine and vinegar have contributed to cooking-a flash of acidity, a touch of sweetness.
Balsamic is made, traditionally, using Italian wine grapes (like Trebbiano). Although not made in the same fashion as wine, there are some striking similarities- adding wine 'like' character to your dishes.
Add it to your roast's pan drippings for an inspired au jus or for a 'knock your socks off' gravy. Make it a vital ingredient in your braising liquid. Just sit back and enjoy (to quote Guy...) flavor town (that term just fits).
Need some balsamic restocking? Pantry a little balsamic-bare? Fear not! Gil's Gourmet has a variety of balsamic options. Whether it is our aged 25 Year Balsamic , the traditional Balsamic de Modena or one of our flavored favorites (the California Fig Balsamic is divine!) we have the balsamic vinegar that is right for you! Shop now.