Vinegar I must say you bring me great enjoyment…but have I really known true balsamic vinegar?
The answer is no.
One evening my neighbors, Roberto and Flo, invited us into their home.
Well let me lay some ground work first. We just moved a couple of months ago and we have been so blessed with great neighbors all around us. We are loving our new neighborhood.
Ok, back to my vinegar journey.
Flo, has an organic garden and has been so kind as to share her wonderful jewels of produce with us. Seriously, she has ruined my son and I from all other tomatoes 🍅. We were out one night talking and next thing you know we are sitting at the kitchen table, talking, laughing, and you guessed it, eating. Flo whipped up some bruschetta and Roberto brought out some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and true balsamic vinegar, that had been aged for over 85 years.
What had I been eating all these years? Wine vinegar with coloring?
Yep, that is what I had been eating. True Balsamic Vinegar is aged.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is the granddaddy of balsamic vinegars. To this day it is only made in Reggio Emilia and Modena, Italy, using traditional methods, and production is overseen from beginning to end.
Traditional balsamic vinegar begins with grape must, whole pressed grapes complete with juice, skin, seeds and stems. It is cooked over a direct flame until concentrated by roughly half, then left to ferment naturally for up to three weeks, and then matured. The aging process is a serious undertaking that can take anywhere from 12-100 plus years and requires meticulous care. As the syrup thickens and evaporates, it is moved into successively smaller barrels made of different woods such as cherrywood, chestnut, juniper and mulberry. This adds to the complex and delicious flavors of balsamic vinegar.
To identify that you are purchasing the real deal. Traditional balsamic vinegar is always labelled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and carries a D.O.P. (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta”) stamp, a certification that guarantees an ingredient’s quality, production, and place of origin.
Now I know that is a mouthful but it is important to know and understand that there is this wonderful world of mind blowing vinegar. And I’m telling you, it is worth researching and most importantly tasting.
In the South, which I am proud to say I’m a G.R. I. T. (Girl raised in the South)
We have sweet tea, fried chicken, homemade ice cream, moon pies, cobblers, cornbread, and fried green tomatoes! But this girl had to have an Italian show me the greatest vinegar I have ever tasted, and for that I am truly thankful.