Vinegar is a kitchen staple. This simply means it is something you cannot do without in a modern kitchen. It has many culinary uses and has been used by many for centuries. It is an aqueous solution that contains acetic acid, some trace compounds, and flavorings. In the kitchen, it is majorly used as an acidic cooking ingredient.
Balsamic vinegar is not your regular vinegar, it is different. In the past decade, balsamic vinegar has become big in the culinary scene. It has its origins in Italy, and we know the Italians are very big on food and its constituents.
What does balsamic vinegar taste like? Like every other vinegar you have out there, balsamic vinegar has a sharp flavor that is accompanied by a sweetness that can be made more prominent when you cook it. It has a fruity or wine-like feel to it although this is quite subtle. In general, balsamic vinegar is tangy and has a smooth, syrupy texture. The texture can be made thicker when it is simmered on a stove.
Balsamic vinegar has a nice velvety texture, the longer it has been aged the more velvety it gets. Just like very fine old wine.
Nutritional Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar has a lot of potential health benefits. These benefits range from improving one’s complexion to more important benefits like weight and cholesterol reduction. We are going to run through these benefits and see just how important balsamic vinegar is to our diet.
Balsamic vinegar contains acetic acid, but that is not all. It also plays host to antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds. These all play important roles in the body. The combination of all these compounds can help improve the skin complexion and condition over time. Balsamic vinegar cannot be directly applied to the skin because it leaves stains that could be very hard to get out.
Antimicrobial compounds are great for fighting bacteria in the body and antioxidants protect the cells from damage by free radicals. The acetic acid in balsamic vinegar contains probiotics. Probiotics are a good kind of bacteria, they help to aid metabolism by improving digestion and this results in the improvement of the overall well-being of an individual.
When consumed, balsamic vinegar has an anti-glycemic impact on the body. This simply means that a person’s blood sugar level would not spike as fast as it usually does after a meal. This is great because it means the presence of balsamic vinegar in your meals can help regulate your blood sugar levels.
There is the claim that balsamic vinegar has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. For this reason, balsamic vinegar has been used to help treat wounds. These claims have not been well proven.
A study carried out on rabbits with high cholesterol has shown that balsamic acid has properties that could help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. If you already have low cholesterol levels, it can help to maintain those levels. Balsamic acid can also help to reduce hypertension, acid reflux, weight, and help improve blood circulation.
Culinary Uses of Balsamic Vinegar
There are different types of balsamic vinegar and the type you have will determine how you would use it. You have the commercial version that is simply known as balsamic vinegar or Aceto balsamico. It is created to simulate the properties of traditional vinegar.
You also have Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP made in the area of Modena, Italy. Each ingredient has to be up to a specified percentage and only vinegar older than 10 years can be used in its production. Lastly, you have Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena. This variety of balsamic vinegar has the highest quality you can get and it employs the original long traditional method in its making.
Balsamic vinegar can be used as a tonic or elixir. A spoonful every day does the trick. Bottles of balsamic vinegar that have been aged for years are usually gifted to important people as a mark of favor. In the kitchen, the story is somewhat different. Balsamic vinegar is everyone’s go-to vinegar for cooking.
It can be used in marinades for meat or fish. You can use it in salads by boiling the vinegar to get that syrupy texture before drizzling it over the salad. Traditional balsamic vinegar can be used in cooking the way you would use red wine. It can also be used the same way you would use extra-virgin olive oil. You can top various foods with balsamic vinegar, foods like: aged cheese, roast squab, vegan pizza, vegan ice cream, duck liver pate, or use on desserts.
What is the Origin of Balsamic Vinegar? How to Procure It?
Balsamic vinegar comes from Modena, Italy. For almost a thousand years it has been produced there. The word balsamico is Italian but has Latin origins. It is derived from the Latin word balsamum which means balsam-like (restorative or curative) it can be likened to the English word “Balm”. It is made by setting aside the unfermented juice of grapes.
The juice is cooked very slowly until its consistency is like that of syrup. The cooking also darkens its color and concentrates the aromas and flavor. This is then collected and stored in wooden barrels where it undergoes a slow fermentation. The fermentation creates alcohol that is attacked by acetic bacteria turning the mix into vinegar.
When you want to buy balsamic vinegar you should find it in grocery stores in the aisle that contains vinegar and oils. When looking to buy traditional balsamic vinegar, you might need to visit Italian specialty stores.
Which is Better: Apple Cider Vinegar or Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is tangy and it has that fruity taste. It can also be easily manipulated into a syrup-like texture that increases the many ways you can go about using it. You might be able to find more use for balsamic vinegar than apple cider vinegar but, choosing which one is the best might depend on individual preferences.
Facts You Don’t Know About Balsamic Vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar was first commercially imported to the United States in 1978 by Williams-Sonoma.
- In the 19th century, balsamic vinegar was a very important part of a woman’s dowry.