If you love Balsamic vinegar, then you know that it goes well with many things. It pairs wonderfully with meat, cheeses, veggies and fruit. You can use them in marinades, salad dressings or drizzle it on your pasta. Some balsamic vinegar can even be used as a sweetener in coffee or as a topping to ice cream!
When you go to the grocery store to buy balsamic, how can you tell if you’re getting the real, authentic balsamic? Here is a little lesson on balsamic vinegar that I think will be helpful.
There are 4 types of Balsamic
- DOP – Protected Designation of Origin – certified by the strictest standards in Italy
- IGP – Protected Geographic Indication – certified but a little less strict
- Condimento – still an authentic balsamic but with labeling laws in Italy, it means it’s bottled under 8 ounces and is not 12 years old.
- Grocery Store – as a rule, for any balsamic vinegar which is under $10, there is a high probability that it is not truly balsamic but white wine vinegar with caramel coloring.
The most popular Balsamic Vinegar is made in Modena, Italy in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy. The capital is Bologna, which is famous for its amazing food! Bologna produces much of the food that comes out of Italy – think cheeses as well as Balsamic!
Balsamic Vinegar is aged for a variety of years from 1 year to 25 years. As the vinegar ages, it becomes more complex, sweet and dense. A 5 year Balsamic Vinegar will have a totally different flavor profile and consistency than a 25 year.
The 25 year Balsamic is referred to as liquid gold – use this as a finishing touch to your recipes to add that perfect balance of sweet and sour to your favorite dishes.
At Ruccello Olive Oil, we carry both the 5 year balsamic and 25 year from Modena, Italy. Each balsamic has its unique purpose in cooking. The 5 year works well with salad dressings, dips, marinades, and makes a delicious reduction for your cooking recipes. The 25 year is sweet and thick in consistency which goes well as a glaze cooked steak or drizzle it over ice cream, cheese or fruit, fish or veggies – really – anything you like! Some people even add it to their coffee.
As you can see, the uses are endless. The best way to find out what you love best is to experiment. If you do, be sure to share your finding with us! We’d love to share your cooking story with others!
In the photo below, I added a drizzle of the 25 year Balsamic to my shrimp and vegetables, which ended up mixed with pasta, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.
Ciao for now,