Infused Balsamics - Redux

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Infused Balsamics - Redux

Postby geo » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:03 pm

OK so I had to ask, wtf is grape must and what does it have to do with Balsamic Vineger? And this is what google says:

1. How To Tell if Balsamic Vinegar Is Real
Its really simple. Just look at the list of ingredients on the balsamic bottle label. There should only be one balsamic ingredient - grape must. That's it! However, while its authentic, its also expensive. So most balsamic vinegar producers will add some wine vinegar. Some will also add caramel or brown sugar. This speeds up the process, adds volume to the balsamic vinegar (wine vinegar is a lot cheaper) and I hate to use the word fake but tries to convince the customer that its a real balsamic vinegar. But its not! Its just cheaper with a sweet taste. Thats why these are called industrial balsamics.

A real and authentic balsamic vinegar has only the grape must which is Trebbiano grapes cooked down to just the right amount of syrup. After that a little bit of older balsamic vinegar is added to it and it sits in wooden barrels anywhere from 2 years to 50 years. The Traditional balsamic vinegars are classified as such after being aged in wooden barrels at least for 12 years and then they are awarded points in blind taste tastes. These balsamic vinegars are the super expensive ones. However, what most real producers will do is bottle some of the younger balsamic vinegars (anywhere from being cooked for 48 hours to being aged for 8 years) to give you cheaper options. These are very, very good and I love them and use them all the time. However, these balsamic vinegars still have only one ingredient - grape must (or cooked grapes).

2. Must is freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The solid portion of the must is called pomace; it typically makes up 7–23% of the total weight of the must. Making must is the first step in winemaking.

3. Traditional balsamic vinegar begins with grape must —whole pressed grapes complete with juice, skin, seeds and stems. The must from sweet white locally grown and late-harvested grapes —usually Lambrusco or Trebbiano varieties— is cooked over a direct flame until concentrated by roughly half, then left to ferment naturally for up to three weeks, and then matured and further concentrated for a minimum of 12 years in a "batteria," or five or more successively smaller aging barrels. These barrels are made of different types of wood such as oak, chestnut, cherry, juniper, and mulberry, so that the vinegar can take on the complex flavors of the casks.

So real Balsamic vineger should contain only one ingredient, grape must, which is simply grape juice thats been crushed from whole grapes, stems included. Then you cook the grape juice to at least half its original volume, then ferment it for a few weeks and final transfer it to barrels for at least 12 years letting it concentrate more and more and putting it into different types of wood barrels to pick up the variety of wood flavors. What you end up with is a very thick and sweet vinegar.

Anything else added to balsamics are simply fillers and sweetners and flavorings, but in reality should not be called "Balsamic". In fact, most "balsamics" you buy are simply made from cheap wine vinegar with colorings and sweetners added.

So the easy way to remember a real Balsamic vinegar is that it should have only one ingredient, grape must, and has to be agged at least 12 years. The best are aged upto 100 years!

OK so who wants to try their hand at making Balsimic vinegar?

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Re: Infused Balsamics - Redux

Postby JeffN » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:19 pm


Like with Olive Oil, Wine and a few other foods/food products that actually have standards of identity, we bastardize many of them, producing cheap alternatives.

I touched on the "Must" briefly, more so in the original (deleted) post, but that is how they get the stuff so concentrated, letting it cook down and evaporate till it is very syrupy. As you said, imitators use cheap vinegar, coloring, caramel, juice and even sugar to make some imitation.

One of the first ones I tried (and we briefly used at Pritikin) cost almost two hundred for a small bottle. It was like molasses and was very thick and sweet.

Many chefs, even WFPB chefs, actually do make balsamic reductions and reduce the vinegar till its a very thick syrup, just like the do with blended dates and water, which I call, Date Crack. Now, we have Balsamic Crack.

Oh, human nature and the pleasure trap. :)

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