How to Make Balsamic Vinegar
Learning how to make balsamic vinegar using traditional methods is a true test of patience. The recipe has two simple ingredients but the fermentation process takes a minimum of 12 years for optimal results, but some ferment their vinegar for as little as six months. You can also opt to make balsamic vinegar using quicker recipes as you wait for the authentic batch to ferment.
Choose a Grape Variety
Balsamic vinegar uses cooked grapes, most commonly the Trebbiano variety. Other varieties may be used including:
Pots or Kettles
A copper pot is ideal for cooking the grapes because it is an excellent heat conductor. Some use open copper kettles to cook the grape juice. The durable material lasts a lifetime and it promises delicious results.
Prepare the Grapes
Mash the grapes into juice, called must. You may use a wine press, but it isn't necessary. Cook the juice until it reduces into a thick syrup.
Transfer the Juice
Transfer the cooked juice to the wooden barrel of your choice. Some ferment the juice in one type of barrel for a few months or years, and then transfer the juice to a different type. The vinegar absorbs the flavor of the barrel as it ferments and using different types of wood will yield different results.
Ferment the Juice
If you want to create a stellar balsamic vinegar, the juice should be fermented for at least 12 years. However, many find that they can make a great authentic vinegar in much less time, with three years as a minimum standard, or as little as six months if you can't wait. The longer it ferments, the better.
Now that you know how to make balsamic vinegar using authentic techniques, you may use the vinegar in countless ways. It makes a wonderful dressing for salads, as a topping for strawberries, and in your favorite gourmet recipes. Add it to lobster and roasted red pepper on homemade cheese appetizers for an optimal dining experience.