The eternal life of Balsamico from Modena

Balsamic vinegar is an exquisite Italian condiment with a thick consistency and rich dark hue with a rich sweet and sour taste and fruity aroma. Another name “balsamic” comes from the Italian Aceto balsamico. This product is made from grape must. According to the original recipe, vinegar is produced in several provinces of Italy. The first mentions date back to the 11th century AD. At the moment, the seasoning is widely used in many famous restaurants around the world to improve the taste and aroma of various desserts, salads, soups, and marinades. The cost of balsamic is quite high, because... it takes from 12 to 25 years to prepare.

Composition and calorie content of balsamic vinegar

Pictured is balsamic vinegar

The word “balsamic” in the name of this product is not used by chance, because it was originally used as a medicine, a balm for the treatment of wounds. The composition of balsamic vinegar allows it to have a pronounced antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect.

The calorie content of balsamic vinegar per 100 g is 88 kcal, of which:

  • Proteins - 0.49 g;
  • Carbohydrates - 17.03 g;
  • Glucose - 7.57 g;
  • Fructose - 7.38 g;
  • Water - 76.45 g;
  • Ash - 0.37 g.

Macroelements per 100 g:

  • Potassium - 112 mg;
  • Calcium - 27 mg;
  • Magnesium - 12 mg;
  • Sodium - 23 mg;
  • Phosphorus - 19 mg;

Microelements per 100 g:

  • Iron - 0.72 mg;
  • Manganese - 0.13 mg;
  • Copper - 26 mcg;
  • Zinc - 0.08 mg.

The product also contains vitamins and antioxidants, which provide Italian seasoning with numerous beneficial properties.

  • See also the composition and calorie content of red wine vinegar

History [edit | edit code]

The first mention of balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico) dates back to 1046, when Margrave Boniface, owner of the castle of Canossa, presented the future king Henry II with a small barrel of a unique product. Thus, he laid down the tradition of “royal gifts” - subsequently such barrels were customary to present to kings and palace nobility. Barrels with exquisite contents spoke of the family's wealth and served as a rich dowry in families where there were young ladies of marriageable age.

The production of this vinegar was the privilege of a limited circle of families of the aristocracy and the third estate. There was no single recipe; each family had its own “secrets” for making vinegar.

The name “balsamic” arose because it was originally used primarily for medicinal purposes, and only later did this vinegar begin to be used in cooking. Thanks to its strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, it was used to treat wounds. It was used as a medicine by Lucretia Borgia in 1503 (the first year of the Great Plague).

Health benefits of balsamic vinegar

Many hundreds of years ago, balsamic was used in medicine to combat inflammatory processes on the skin and as an antiseptic for treating wounds. Over time, it began to be used in cooking, which made it possible to discover new beneficial properties when consumed with food.

The benefits of balsamic vinegar are as follows:

  • Improves the condition of the skin . Consuming fermented grape must can help you get rid of many skin problems. The product slows down aging, allows you to cleanse the skin of pathogenic microbes, eliminate redness and pimples.
  • Decreased blood glucose levels . Even in small doses, the product has a hypoglycemic effect, regulating glucose levels. Because of this, it is useful for patients with diabetes. Studies have shown that there are no sugar spikes after eating, which has a beneficial effect on a person’s well-being. In addition, balsamic stabilizes the level for another 5 hours after eating.
  • Cholesterol removal . The antioxidants included in the beneficial composition are also responsible for this function, which prevent excessive oxidation and neutralize dangerous agents that cause increased cholesterol.
  • Normalizes digestion . During long-term fermentation, probitics and acids are formed in vinegar, which help improve digestive processes. Because of this, the product is useful for overeating and a tendency to improperly digest food.
  • Losing body weight . By improving the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and saturating certain beneficial bacteria, balsamic vinegar helps to prolong the feeling of fullness and prevent the accumulation of fat mass. Having tasted a dish with the addition of this ingredient for breakfast, a person reduces his calorie needs for the whole day. Gradually, with constant consumption of this seasoning, body weight decreases.
  • Elimination of symptoms of hypertension . You can reduce high blood pressure by eliminating certain fatty acids from your diet and adding balsamic.
  • Normalization of the circulatory system . Among the beneficial properties of balsamic vinegar is the ability of the seasoning to reduce the risk of blockage of blood vessels, which in turn allows you to avoid numerous pathologies of the cardiovascular system.
  • Increased libido . It is believed that this seasoning can activate sexual desire, normalize erections and enhance sensations during sexual intercourse.

Contraindications and harms of balsamic vinegar

Despite the obvious benefits for the body, balsamic is not an absolutely safe product. There are several contraindications that can protect a person from negative consequences.

Balsamic vinegar can be harmful in the following cases:

  • Personal intolerance to the product.
  • Tendency to allergic reactions. Vinegar is a highly concentrated product, so even in small quantities it can provoke an allergic reaction.
  • Problems with the gastrointestinal tract, tendency to indigestion, stomach ulcers.
  • Violation of the integrity of the mucous membrane of the mouth and esophagus.

It should also be understood that any product cannot be consumed uncontrollably. For balsamic vinegar, the maximum daily dose is 2 tbsp. l. or 40 ml.

If the product comes into contact with the skin, it may cause pigment spots to appear.

Which vinegar is better: synthetic or natural?

Natural vinegar, which is made from apple cider, is several times more expensive than synthetic vinegar. Natural apple cider vinegar is 5% ABV, while synthetic apple cider vinegar is usually 9%. You need to be completely sure that you really bought natural apple cider vinegar and not a chemically flavored one.

Also note that store-bought apple cider vinegar should not be used while on a diet. In this case, only vinegar made with your own hands from first-class greenish apples will do.

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Balsamic vinegar from different manufacturers

Currently, a large assortment of products called “balsamic vinegar” is on sale, but not every product item is truly an original product. In order not to make a mistake, you should remember that balsamic made using traditional technology cannot be cheap. Prices for 100 ml of product start at 3,000 rubles. Be sure to pay attention to the name of the manufacturer, place of production and, of course, composition.

Balsamic vinegar from various manufacturers:

  • Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena Extra Vecchio . Manufacturer: Acetaia Malpighi, Italy. This high-quality product is made from our own raw materials grown in Italian vineyards. It is made entirely according to the traditional recipe, aged for 25 years and has undergone an additional filtration procedure. It has an almost black tint and increased viscosity, mild taste and pronounced aroma. Reviews for original balsamic vinegar are the best. Volume - 100 ml. Price - 7500-8200 rubles.
  • Vinagre bals?mico de M?dena . Manufacturer: Bodegas Vina Elena, Spain. The product is made on the basis of grape must and wine vinegar, and therefore is not an original balsamic. The aging period is 10 years. At the same time, it has a pleasant aroma and bright taste. Can be used in the same recipes as the original product. Volume - 250 ml. You can buy this balsamic vinegar at a fairly low price - 250 rubles.
  • Il Quatro Centenario . Manufacturer: GIUSTI, Italy. The aging period is 15 years. The composition contains wine vinegar and grape must. At the same time, the manufacturer manages to maintain the traditional acidity level of 6%. Volume - 250 ml. Price - 3300 rubles.
  • Riserva di Famiglia . Manufacturer: Antica Acetaia Dodi, Italy, Emilia-Romagna. The product is traditional. It contains exclusively boiled and fermented grape must with the addition of a mixture of spices. Supplied in glass bottles. Volume - 500 ml. Price - 5200-6000 rubles.

Eighth recipe (like Jarvis)

American doctor D.S. Jarvis came up with and tested his own version of making apple cider vinegar at home. Its product is enriched with potassium. This vinegar takes longer to prepare than previous recipes. But the quality of the substance he obtained is superior to the usual home product in many respects.

The recipe mentions ripe and overripe apple fruits. They must be prepared as follows: washed, freed from rottenness and wormholes. You can grate it, or you can scroll through a regular meat grinder until a homogeneous mass is obtained. Place in a regular jar, but preferably a large one made of glass or clay, fill with boiled warm water.

The amount of water should be the same as the apple mass. Add natural honey, because it is what increases the potassium content.

Next, ten grams of yeast and twenty grams of crackers made from black bread are added. This will speed up the fermentation of the juice. Do not close the container tightly; place it in a warm and dark place as usual.

Stirring with a kitchen spatula at least three times a day, keep the dishes in the same place for ten days.

Strain, then pour into another container and add honey at the rate of one liter of juice to one hundred grams of sweet delicacy, mix everything thoroughly. Cover the top with gauze and leave for forty, or even more, days. A change in the color of the liquid and its transparency will indicate the completion of the process. After re-filtering, the vinegar can be stored.

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How to make balsamic vinegar?

Currently, every self-respecting restaurant chef uses balsamic. However, due to its high cost, this product rarely appears on home kitchen tables. Of course, it can be replaced with other seasonings, but you can also try making it at home. The cooking technology has its own nuances - we hasten to introduce them to you.

Step-by-step instructions on how to make balsamic vinegar:

  • First of all, the raw materials are harvested - white grapes, which give an unsurpassed aroma. The juice is squeezed out of it using a press and is not subjected to additional processing.
  • Next, the unclarified juice, the so-called wort, is boiled for some time to evaporate excess liquid and ultimately obtain a thicker mass with a fairly dark tint.
  • Next, wooden barrels are prepared. Mulberry should be the largest size, chestnut or cherry should be medium size, and oak or ash should be the smallest. This allows balsamic vinegar to be enriched with the aromas and shades of the wood of these trees.
  • The resulting grape must is first poured into a mulberry barrel. Closed tightly, the container is placed in the attic and left for several years for the fermentation process.
  • Then it is poured into a medium barrel and aged again.
  • Finally, the vinegar is placed in oak containers and, after additional aging, bottled.
  • While the grape must is turning into balsamic vinegar, a set of spices is added to it, but the list of such for the original product is a trade secret. This is why homemade balsamic vinegar will differ significantly from the Italian product.
  • The minimum ripening period is 3 years. As balsamic vinegar ages, it becomes more beneficial and valuable. The optimal period is considered to be from 12 to 25 years.

The recipe for balsamic vinegar at home is quite simple and does not require any deep knowledge from a person. However, few people dare to try it due to the technology being highly extended over time. On the other hand, you can significantly speed up the fermentation process by adding wine vinegar to the grape must. However, such a product will be of lower quality and useful.

General principles for storing vinegar

The shelf life of vinegar is practically unlimited if it is stored in glass containers. The shelf life of vinegar may vary slightly, depending on the type of vinegar itself. For example, table and grape vinegar are not solutions of acetic acid. They contain more than just that. Therefore, here the shelf life of vinegar is determined based on the results of the examination.

By and large, this rule can be applied to all vinegar essences. They differ from vinegar because they have a higher concentration of acetic acid. There is also an opinion that good vinegar is specially aged for many years. In plastic, the shelf life of vinegar is greatly reduced. In this case it will be approximately four years. At least, this is the expiration date indicated by many manufacturers. In this case, the vinegar should be kept in a dark room.

Some say that vinegar is generally eternal (this is if it is stored correctly). Some vinegar bottles come with their own expiration date. In general, it should be noted that vinegar is obtained in two ways. It can be obtained by oxidizing diluted ethyl alcohol (concentration 6-10%) or ethyl alcohol from dry wine materials - that is, various fermented juices (apple, grape). They are oxidized using pure cultures and acetic acid bacteria or in another way.

Storing vinegar in the refrigerator

The refrigerator is not the best place to store vinegar. Especially do not store balsamic and apple cider vinegar in the refrigerator. When stored in the refrigerator, sediment may appear in them, they can fizzle out and spoil.

You can store table vinegar in the refrigerator. In a closed bottle, vinegar can be stored in the refrigerator for a year .

If, when storing vinegar in the refrigerator, sediment appears in it, you should get rid of it, as it has spoiled and should absolutely not be used.

Storing vinegar in the freezer

Under no circumstances should you store vinegar in the freezer. First of all, this is due to the fact that the product will simply freeze, and upon subsequent thawing it will no longer have its original properties.

If you suddenly decide to store vinegar in the freezer, be prepared for the fact that when freezing, the container may burst and flood the entire chamber. And it is very difficult to remove the acrid smell of vinegar. Therefore, do not take risks and do not store vinegar in the freezer.

Storing Vinegar at Room Temperature

Room temperature is the optimal condition for long-term storage of vinegar.

It is best to store vinegar in a cool and dark place, away from heaters and sunlight. A good place for storage can be a kitchen cabinet (preferably the top one), as well as a pantry. At high temperatures, vinegar can ferment and become unusable very quickly. Vinegar can be stored at room temperature for 12 months .

Using balsamic vinegar in cooking

Aged and fermented vinegar based on high-quality grape must is most widely used in cooking in its homeland - Italy. Here it is used in many dishes.

The taste of balsamic vinegar is somewhat sweet, but also slightly sour and with a pronounced fruity note. Thanks to this, this product perfectly complements any meat dishes. Marinades based on it not only improve taste and appearance, recipes with balsamic vinegar allow you to soften meat fibers and make them more tender. In addition, after pre-marinating, the meat cooks faster. An amazing option is to caramelize chicken, pork, and beef using balsamic cream. The appearance of such dishes not only attracts attention with their beauty, but also evokes an unprecedented appetite.

Vinegar made from grape must is less popular in combination with hot and spicy dishes, which already have rich flavor characteristics.

In small quantities, the seasoning is used to decorate various soups, desserts, gourmet seafood dishes, cheese plates, vegetable and fruit dishes when served.

It is worth noting that balsamic, due to the presence of acids in its composition, ensures longer preservation of products.

How to use balsamic vinegar depends entirely on the recipe of a particular dish. Sometimes just a few drops are enough to make the finishing touch when serving; in other cases, the seasoning is mixed with other ingredients to create sauces, marinades, and dressings.

Vinegar has a viscous consistency, and the greater the thickness, the more seasoned the product is, and therefore the more valuable. Its color is very dark and rich, so it can significantly affect the appearance of a particular dish - this is worth taking into account. But the main characteristic, of course, is its rich taste and aroma.

  • See also recipes for dishes with raspberry vinegar

How to store apple cider vinegar

The shelf life of vinegar is set by the manufacturer and is usually 4-5 years, while GOST recommends 6 months and explains that the manufacturer can set a different shelf life for vinegar provided that its quality is maintained in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the state that has adopted the standard.

The freezing point of 4-9% vinegar is -1...-3 °C. Freezing and subsequent thawing of vinegar does not affect its quality.

You can keep apple vinegar in the refrigerator, but it is better in a dark place - a pantry, cellar, basement or in a kitchen cabinet away from the gas stove.

  • Temperature for a product purchased in a store -5...+30 °C;
  • Store homemade apple cider vinegar at +6…+15 °C.

An apple product can remain suitable for consumption for quite a long time. And even if reddish flakes have formed in the container, this is not evidence of spoilage: the longer the storage time, the greater the benefit of vinegar.

Balsamic Vinegar Dressing Recipes

If we ignore the fact that balsamic was originally used as a medicine for external treatment of the skin, then its main use is as an effective and quite useful seasoning for various products and dishes.

The use of balsamic vinegar in the preparation of various dressings:

  • Basic recipe . Ingredients: 10 ml balsamic vinegar and 30 ml olive oil. Both ingredients are simply mixed. This option is suitable for dressing dishes from various types of salad.
  • Dressing with pesto . Ingredients: olive oil (40 ml), balsamic (20 ml), green pesto sauce (10 g). This delicate mixture is highly valued by those who want to lose weight. This dressing is often used instead of mayonnaise in various salads.
  • Garlic sauce . Ingredients: olive oil (60 ml), balsamic (20 ml), salt and black pepper (to taste), brown sugar (3 g), garlic (1-2 cloves). Garlic crushed in any way is mixed with the remaining ingredients. The taste is rich, and the aroma enhances appetite.
  • Dressing with honey and mustard . Ingredients: olive oil (50 ml), balsamic vinegar (25 ml), honey (5 ml), Dijon mustard (5 ml), garlic (1 clove), pepper mixture and salt. It is best to pass the garlic through a press and beat thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. This sauce has a pronounced sweetish-savory flavor.
  • Sauce with herbs . Ingredients: balsamic (20 ml), olive oil (60 ml), oregano (5-7 g) and cumin (7 g). This option allows you to decorate the taste and aroma of any dish with ingredients that have relatively neutral taste characteristics.
  • Balsamic cream . Of course, such a product can be bought ready-made in the supermarket, but it is even easier to prepare it at home. Ingredients: balsamic (50 ml), flour (10 g). Balsamic mixed with flour is boiled over low heat until a thicker mass is formed. The aroma of dishes with balsamic vinegar and cream based on it takes on a delicate grape hue, and the taste becomes slightly sweet.
  • Citrus sauce . Ingredients: balsamic (20 ml), orange juice (20 ml), lemon juice (20 ml), citrus zest (10 g), sugar (5 g). A mixture of these ingredients is best suited for marinating fish before grilling.
  • Chili sauce . Ingredients: vinegar based on grape must aged at least 12 years (40 ml), ground red chili pepper (5 g), sugar (5 g), salt (5 g), water (40 ml). This option is used for marinating pork for barbecue, as well as for preparing French toast and sausage.

Balsamic vinegar is also used in cooking to prepare sauces with other foods, for example, figs, pomegranate, butter, hard cheese, juniper berries, various herbs, and flavorings.

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