balsamic vinegar

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by dreed3, Nov 15, 2009.

  1. dreed3

    dreed3

    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    hey guys (and gals)

    On the topic of balsamic vinegar, how do you feel?

    is these a huge difference between 5yr, 10yr, 25yr + agings?

    whats a "good price" for each? and where do you buy?

    brands to buy or not to buy?

    what do you have in the cupboard right now?

    I just finished a bottle of some cheapie stuff and began to wonder whats the difference and why do some cost more? is it worth spending money on it? typically i use it for caprese salad, maybe a vinegrette...but if i had more uses i would. I'm not "expereinced" with using it so much...so i remember seeing an Iron Chef episode using it as the secret ingredient. would love to get more into using it...
     
  2. ishbel

    ishbel

    Messages:
    3,147
    Likes Received:
    40
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I buy 'aged' balsamic. I use it for dipping sauces, for salad dressings and for sloshing over roasted veg (after roasting).

    I have cheaper balsamic in the larder which I use for cooking purposes.
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,492
    Likes Received:
    475
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    This is off the top of my head without checking references so I don't guarantee accuracy.

    It won't meet the Italian consortium criteria until 12 years minimum as I recall. What you see in the lesser aged versions is generally non-consortium red wine vinegar mixed with grape must (where the age grade comes in), sugar, caramel color and so on. This is called a condimenti grade.

    Generally the condimenti grade is used for cooking, for salads and most "balsamic" uses. The consortium grades are $$$ and used in drops and and as accents.

    There are some reasonable condimentis for most cooking purposes.
     
  4. deltadoc

    deltadoc

    Messages:
    958
    Likes Received:
    12
    I just got done making a balsamic vinagrette using 2 TBSP EVOO (Carapelli) and 2 TBSP of Balsamic (just says Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Gaeta imports), 2 TBSP of dark Brown sugar, and S&P.

    I used it on heirloom tomatoes freshly chopped, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil I just picked off my plant in my indoor greenhouse.

    I don't know, it doesn't say how long its aged, and I've had balsamic that was aged 15 years, and I can't really tell much of a difference, at least between these two. Don't remember what the 15year aged stuff was.

    This sure was good for our 2nd course of the day though.

    Next is some horseradish encrusted organic filet mignon with red wine truffle sauce, steamed brussel sprouts with lemon juice, lemon rind, butter fried mushrooms and parmesan cheese with a dash of fresh nutmeg and garlic mashed potatoes.

    Sunday meal takes all day to make and eat, but it sure is worth the effort.

    doc
     
  5. gonefishin

    gonefishin

    Messages:
    1,466
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    At home cook
    There's alot of clever marketing with balsamic vinegar, just like there is with olive oils. I would try to find yourself and upscale olive oil shop with a good reputation. Once there explain your interest in balsamic vinegar and they should be able to give you a decent tasting tour.

    If you had to focus on one thing with balsamic I would focus on the producers using the tradizionale method, rather than specific region or age. But again...there's alot of marketing out there.


    Acetaia Leonardi You may want to look for a shop that carries one of the elite balsamic producers. This isn't going to happen by accident. If they carry one of the big boys...you've found a place to visit ;)

    happy tasting!
    dan
     
  6. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

    Messages:
    2,753
    Likes Received:
    16
    Exp:
    Other
    I haven't tried any really well aged balsamic, but a tip I have heard is to reduce a young one before using to thicken it up - it is supposed to taste better, and won't cost as much as the prime brands.

    Might be worth a try - just a suggestion.
     
  7. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

    Messages:
    3,355
    Likes Received:
    44
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    It is almost like ones appreciation of fine wines. In a lot of cases though you may not like a real expensive 25 year old one. Your taste may favor a 10 year old. As long as you buy one from Modena it should be half way decent. Buying Balsamic today is similar to all the hype given wines years ago. It Is Strictly a Matter of Your Taste. And yes you can chill a red wine and you can drink a white with red meat its all a matter of your taste and thats what matters.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    176
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Ther is also a white balsamic. Good balsamic is very expensive like fine wine but well worth it. Only modena makes true balsamic.
     
  9. chefmasterjohn

    chefmasterjohn

    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I think the taste difference really is just a matter of opinion. Some people like it aged, and some people don't like it aged.
     
  10. chef1962

    chef1962

    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Over used and stop using it.It was a  tread for awhile but know it is done.Get with the times.Your food should change with the seasons and trends.Cheers
     
  11. gonefishin

    gonefishin

    Messages:
    1,466
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    At home cook
          Hello All!

      Good balsamic is really something special.  This is not some new idea or trend that has just come along, the very industry itself is about long lasting tradition.  These many years is what produces a thick luscious deep drop of goodness.

        I have had the pleasure of tasting several San Giacomo balsamics, from the red label, silver and including the gold label.  But you can find plenty of good balsamics, as well as a nice tasting Saba or vincotto.  As mentioned many times above there is a lot of hype and marketing in balsamics so tread carefully.  I recommend finding a reputable high-end olive oil shop and ask for a tasting of different balsamics.  These high end shops will many times have some quality items that are affordable as well.

        I've got a variety of balsamics at my disposal (so to speak), including the gold label.  So which one is the best one to use?  Depends on the dish, the day and the use.  The ultra high end balsamics aren't an everyday item, as good as they are.

      enjoy!

     Dan
     
  12. margcata

    margcata Banned

    Messages:
    985
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Food Writer
    @ Gone Fishin, Dan,

    Buenas Tardes. I agree with you, that there is a colossal number of brands of Balsamic Vinegar, aged and not aged. Additionally, though Balsamic Vinegar has an Italian Designation of Origin, Modena ( appellation ), many Mediterranean countries produce " this style " of vinegar.

    Furthermore, I agree that by going to a European style Deli or Macy´s Cellar´s perhaps, or a similar shop to Zabar´s in your home state or city; you shall have the opportunity to do a tasting, as if you were buying an olive oil to pair with that specific Balsamic Vinegar as well as a wine or 2 ...

    Nice to see u posting Dan.

    Kindest.

    Margaux Cintrano.
     
  13. gonefishin

    gonefishin

    Messages:
    1,466
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    At home cook
       Hello Margcata!

      There are too few hours in the day, I just don't get to post as often as I have.  I normally trade the European session of the financial markets, then I go to my regular job.

        I've been ordering my Olive Oils and Vinegars from The City Olive, in Chicago.  They used to have a storefront on the north side, but recently had to move out and go internet only.  Great people, very knowledgable...and they used to have a selection larger than what is online.  Oh, if you check out the Olive oils, the first day of harvest (both of them) are usually two that are always on my list of oils to buy each year.

      good day Margi!

      Dan
     
  14. jim golo

    jim golo

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    It completely depends on what you are using the vinegar for. The higher quality stuff is a value if used sparingly as a finishing flavor. For cooking, dressings, reductions, sauces, etc, the age is immaterial. I'll finish with a nice aged 10+ year, or some Modena if I'm looking for sweetness (a great balsamico w/ must). but for cooking, don't waste your money on the higher price point selections, it's not worth it.

    I also offer shots of the high end Balsamicos after dinner. For those who can tolerate it, it's a great finisher, good for digestion, and an unusual dinner offering. Many of my customers inquire about it but don't actually go for it, but of the few who do, most enjoy it. It's something you don't find much in the States, but is more commonly found in Germany and other parts of Europe.
     
  15. gonefishin

    gonefishin

    Messages:
    1,466
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    At home cook
       Hi Jim :)

      I do the same things from time to time.  I wonder if the reason this isn't more popular in the states is due to the quality of many balsamics.  Taking down a cheaper quality balsamic gives you little complexity and mostly vinegar notes.  While the high quality balsamics are complex and span widely across the flavor spectrum. 

    have a good day!

      Dan
     
  16. davehriver

    davehriver

    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    There is a great discussion of Balsamic Vinegar on Lynn Rosetta Casper's The splendid Table (splendidtable.org) it is very interesting.  Some balsamic is actually hundreds of years old because they never totally empty the aging vessel