Our 12 Star Balsamic Vinegar
The resulting syrup is then aged in a succession of barrels made from different kinds of wood that give the vinegar character. Authentic balsamic vinegar is aged no less than 12 years. Cheaper balsamic vinegars are aged for a shorter amount of time in larger barrels and are typically mixed with wine vinegar and have coloring added.
White balsamic vinegar, however, blends white grape must with white wine vinegar and is cooked at a low temperature to avoid any darkening. Some manufacturers age the vinegar in oak barrels, while other use stainless steel.
The flavors of the two are very similar, although the dark balsamic is slightly sweeter and tends to be a little more syrupy. The white has more of a clean aftertaste. The main reason one would use white balsamic, rather than regular, is mostly aesthetic. It can be used with lighter colored foods, dressings, or sauces without any discoloring. If that sort of thing matters to you.
True balsamic vinegar (which has Protected Designation of Origin status) is aged for 12 to 25 years. Balsamic vinegars that have been aged for up to 100 years are available, though they are usually very expensive.
The commercial balsamic sold in supermarkets is typically made with concentrated grape juice mixed with a strong vinegar, which is laced with caramel and sugar. Regardless of how it is produced, balsamic vinegar must be made from a grape product.
The operations that take balsamic vinegar, the primary product of the grapevine, to the table are codified in a sort of ritual in which nothing is left to chance; each passage has been scientifically explained and yet what happens in the bowels of the casks remains essentially a mystery.
Here is a five barrel battery giving some possible examples of woods that might be used. Castania (chestnut), for example, is very important for coloration and acidic development. Cherry imparts a sweetness and juniper or mulberry provide a spicy aroma. Oak’s dense wood structure allows less evaporation. There aren’t really any hard and fast wood rules (I’ve seen mulberry used for the first barrel, for example), and, as usual, it comes down to your own taste preferences and luck.The absolute undoubtedly without question most important item is the ‘must’ content
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