Last week I told you about our visit to the Acetaia Villa San Donnino to see how traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is made. While I would argue that the authentic, traditional version of Balsamic Vinegar is best if you can get your hands on it, I also think it’s important to be able to make your own version at home with ingredients that are readily available in any grocery store. Balsamic Glaze is especially good to have on hand if your husband also happens to love balsamic on anything and everything. It’s very good on meat, strawberries, watermelon, cheese, etc. My personal favorite way to enjoy some balsamic glaze is on a Caprese Salad. Caprese Salad is basically my favorite meal, especially here in Italy where incredible mozzarella is extremely affordable and readily available.
Balsamic Vinegar from the grocery store is used often on salads just the way it is, but if you take a few minutes to make up a batch of Balsamic Glaze, you won’t be disappointed. By sweetening the Balsamic vinegar with brown sugar, and simmering it until it has reduced and thickened into a more syrup-like consistency allows the flavors to develop a bit, and also tames the acidity and the “kick” that it has when served straight from the bottle. The result is wonderful. It is a bit milder than the “traditional” in my opinion, which I really like on this salad, so it doesn’t overpower the mozzarella and tomatoes.
Due to the way that grocery store Balsamic vinegar is made with alcohol and sugars and other added ingredients, it is possible to use it in cooking without destroying its flavor, in fact, it improves and mellows with cooking. This is a stark contrast to the Traditional Balsamic Vinegars of Modena which are made with cooked grape juice as their only ingredient. The aging process is what gives them their color and flavor. Cooking a Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena would destroy the flavor completely and is never recommended. They’re more similar in flavor and consistency to a Balsamic Glaze anyway, so cooking it would not be necessary.