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Friday, May 7, 2010

Balsamic Vinegar

Made from white Trebbiano grapes, this aromatic vinegar ages to a dark brown with a full-bodied, slightly sweet flavor flavor with a hint of tartness.  

In a cool, dark place, vinegar keeps indefinitely. It can become murky or cloudy over time, however, and you may notice sediment in the bottom of the bottle. None of this makes it unusable, just unattractive. If it bothers you, pour the vinegar through a coffee filter to catch the sediment.

Try balsamics in marinades, vinaigrettes, tomato sauces, and soups. Balsamic vinegar's smooth jolt of flavor adds no fat to your cooking.

Balsamic vinegars range in price from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per bottle. Some traditionally produced balsamic vinegars are aged for decades and become increasingly concentrated and syrupy over time. These are the equivalent of vintage port or a perfectly constructed, well-aged wine, and they are phenomenally expensive--sometimes more than $100 per bottle. The best are made on a small, artisanal scale in and around Modena in northern Italy. Reserve these for drizzling over berries and vegetables, as they stand on their own and don't need other ingredients to mask their intense flavor.

The commercially produced balsamics found in supermarkets are not as well rounded or deep but are perfectly fine for cooking.

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