You call it a glaze, a dressing, a syrup, a reduction … We call it liquid gold. Seriously, liquid gold might not even taste as good as balsamic glaze. It is super easy to make, can be stored for a jar for at least a couple weeks (in the refrigerator) and the best part is that it can be added to any dish to compliment the food so well with its tangy sweet taste.
Photo by Cristiano Carli, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
You can buy balsamic glaze at any grocery store but it is expensive and the balsamic reduction in a jar might contain additional preserving ingredients. The process to make balsamic glaze from the reduction of balsamic vinegar is very simple. Its simplicity of making the glaze would save you a trip to a grocery store.
Balsamic vinegar originated from Modena and Reggio Emilia (northern Italy) since the Middle Ages dated back 1046. It is made from a reduction of cooked white Trebbiano grape juice. Today, balsamic vinegar is used as a condiment around the world and available to shoppers everywhere.
There are three types of balsamic vinegar:
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
True traditional balsamic vinegar is made from pressed grapes from 2 popular varieties: Lambrusco and Trebbiano and is aged for at least 12 years. Reggio Emilia and Modena label the balsamic vinegar by its age with different color codes. In Reggio Emilia, a red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years, and a gold label designates that the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more. In Modena, a white cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years, while a gold cap means the vinegar has aged for at least 25 years.
This type of balsamic vinegar is also made in the traditional way from Reggio Emilia and Modena. The process doesn’t meet the standard maturity of the traditional balsamic vinegar. As there are no official standards or labeling systems to designate condimento balsamic vinegars, it can be hard to tell their quality based on the packaging alone.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
The high demand for balsamic vinegar led to the massive commercial production of it. These commercial-grade balsamic vinegars are made of wine vinegar. It may contain color, caramel and thickening agents like corn flour. There is no fermentation stage; instead, it is only aged for at least two months in a large wooden barrel.
A good bottle of balsamic vinegar would yield a richer, tastier glaze at the end. But a good bottle can sell for as much as 0 an ounce. We can spend as cheaply as three dollars for a 16 ounce bottle and still yield perfectly rich, dark, velvety syrup to use.
Pour the entire 16-ounce bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepot.
Add ½ cup of brown sugar, a pinch of salt to the pot, stir to mix all together.
Cook the saucepot over medium heat till it comes to a boil. Occasionally stir the mixture till it reduces to half and the content turns syrupy and thick.
Let it completely cool down before store it in an air-tight glass container.
Balsamic glaze is truly a liquid gold! It can be paired with any type of food, from savory dishes to sweet desserts, to grilled meat and vegetables … it compliments with all the food so well that there is no wrong way to use it.
As a glaze: you can use it as a glaze over ice cream (yes, you read it right, if you haven’t tried it, give it a glaze, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how this sweet tangy glaze awake your sense), over a salad, over a plate of grilled fish or meat before serving.
As a dipping sauce and dressing: add balsamic glaze in the pool of extra-virgin olive oil, dip freshly-baked bread in, this sweet, sour and tangy flavor compliments the smooth run of olive oil in your mouth would be a great starter of any meal.
As a marinade: you can use the glaze to marinate poultry or meat. The acidity of the glaze will also help tenderize the meat. The thick coat of the glaze will help to keep the flavor and moisture trapped in the meat while cooking.
As a BBQ sauce: this glaze goes so well with grilled meat like ribs.