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Thread: Off Topic: Aging balsamic vingar

  1. #1
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    Off Topic: Aging balsamic vingar

    Totally off topic, but we all have to eat something.
    We had a small bottle of real aged balsamic vinegar, thick like a pancake syrup and very tasty. So can I leave a unopened bottle of balsamic vinegar in the basement and wait ten years or so for it to be more aged. I believe the law is it has to be 12 years old to be called balsamic already. Or does it have to be in a non twist top bottle so it can breathe out excess water over time?
    All I can find on goggle says it is aged in casks or mix sugar and wine into it to thicken it over low heat. No mention of storing it away like wine to age.
    Bill D

  2. #2
    Here is how balsamic vinegar is made:

    Although it is considered a wine vinegar, it is not a wine vinegar at all. It is not made from wine, but from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine.

    Sweet white Trebbiano grape pressings are boiled down to a dark syrup and then aged under rigid restrictions. The syrup is placed into oaken kegs, along with a vinegar "mother," and the aging process begins. To qualify as balsamic vinegar, it is required to be aged for 12 years in wood. Over the years, the liquid graduates to smaller and smaller kegs made of chestnut, cherrywood, ash, mulberry, and juniper until it is ready for sale. All of these woods progressively add character to the vinegar. As it ages, moisture evaporates out, further thickening the vinegar and concentrating the flavor.

    To get thicker the water has to come out of it and your glass container would certainly limit that part of the process. The moisture apparently escapes through the sides of the wood casks.
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  3. #3
    I love balsamic vinegar but know zilch about vinegar in general, but I do know just from reading labels that balsamic vinegar contains lead- I've been curious how that happens-?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    I love balsamic vinegar but know zilch about vinegar in general, but I do know just from reading labels that balsamic vinegar contains lead- I've been curious how that happens-?
    Not all balsamic vinegar contains lead:

    https://www.ooliveoil.com/why-california-balsamic/

    One theory is there may be lead in the ground where either the grapes for the vinegar or trees to make barrels are grown.

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  5. #5
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    Further aging in the bottle won't help your vinegar. Like whiskey, it's barrel time that counts.

    One way to make cheap balsamic better is to boil it down. Up until 4-5 years ago Costco sold an amazingly good balsamic under their Kirkwood brand. Unfortunately they figured out they could dilute it by half and charge the same price, albeit still cheap as balsamic goes. If you reduce the volume by 1/3 to half by boiling it down you get back to a decent product at a fraction of the price of the real thing. It's also fine out of the bottle in cooking where you're going to dilute it anyway. I do keep a bottle of the good stuff for drizzling on my summer tomatoes-- there are places to compromise and places where you shouldn't.

  6. #6
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    You might look for Baalmic Glaze it is thicker and sweet, I look for one with no added sugar since I'm limiting sugar. There is some natual occuring sugars in it. I use it as a no salt added, no fat salad dressing.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Vavricka View Post
    You might look for Baalmic Glaze it is thicker and sweet, I look for one with no added sugar since I'm limiting sugar. There is some natual occuring sugars in it. I use it as a no salt added, no fat salad dressing.
    Trader Joe's sells a very nice balsamic glaze that fits this description. Since the OP lives in CA, there will be Trader Joe's stores all over the place.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the help. We still had the bottle from the good stuff. With your help I was able to read enough from the label to know it was basalmic reduction. So I will try reducing the regular stuff down by 50% Of course this doubles the price per ounce but it is cheaper with good stuff from Grocery outlet at $2.99 a quart this week.
    To reduce you just simmer slowly in a pan for about 30 minute until 1/2 of the original volume is gone. I will not add any sugar or herbs.
    I will try a simple experiment of put a little vinegar in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and let it evaporate indoors until it is reduced by 1/2. that should concentrate the flavor but I bet the acidity evaporates as well. I will try this since I am not sure if the reduction in a cooking process or just evaporation.
    Bill D.

    PS: A glaze is just a reduction allowed to continue past the reduction stage of 50% down to 25% remains of the original volumne.

  9. #9
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    Things are not so simple

    Unfortunately things are not so simple: reduction will evaporate most of the more volatile elements, usually the main responsable for some particular flavor. You will not get a "concentrated" version of the original one as you will lost those volatile components.
    All the best.

    Osvaldo.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kev Williams View Post
    I love balsamic vinegar but know zilch about vinegar in general, but I do know just from reading labels that balsamic vinegar contains lead- I've been curious how that happens-?

    It's true. Balsamic and red wine vinegars do contain trace amounts of lead, probably absorbed by the grapes from the soil in which they are grown or from the wooden barrels in which they are often aged. ... The result of that lawsuit are the warning labels that you now see on balsamic vinegar.Sep 21, 2012
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  11. #11
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    My experiment of evaporating the vinegar did not work out. It concentrated the vinegar taste but all the other flavors were lost. I guess the reducing is actually a cooking process that transforms some of the chemicals. Something like cooking onions to caramelize them.
    Bill D

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