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About Balsamic Vinegars
A BASIC DEFINITION
Balsamic vinegar is an aged reduction of white sweet grapes (usually Trebbiano) that are boiled to a syrup. The grapes are cooked slowly in copper cauldrons over an open flame until the water content is reduced by more than half. The result is a liquid known as must. The must is then placed into wooden barrels. An older balsamic vinegar is added to assist in the acetification. Every year, the vinegar is transferred to different wood barrels so the vinegar can collect some of the flavors of the different woods. To make true balsamic vinegar, the only approved woods are oak, cherry, chestnut, mulberry, acacia, juniper, and ash. The age of the vinegar is divided into young (from three to five years’ maturation); middle-aged (from six to 12 years); and the highly prized very old, which is at least 12 years and can be up to 150 years.
True balsamic vinegar has a thick consistency when you pour it—more like syrup than water—and is so flavorful that you need only use a drizzle of it because even a small amount explodes the taste buds. Use it on salads, meat and fish dishes, desserts and fruits. Once you’ve had a taste of the real thing, you’ll never go back.
A BRIEF HISTORY
The same country that brought the world Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci also created the wonderfully adaptable balsamic vinegar or aceto balsamico di Modena. Yes, true balsamic vinegar can be produced only in Italy, specifically the regions of Modena or Reggio.
The first historical reference to balsamic vinegar dates back to 1046, when a bottle of the stuff was reportedly given to Emperor Enrico III of Franconia as a gift. In the Middle Ages, it was used as a disinfectant. It was also thought to be a miracle cure, good for everything from sore throats to labor pains. These days, we mostly appreciate a wonderful, delicious balsamic vinegar for its flavor, but it actually has been proven to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it an effective remedy for treating infections and wounds.
Need more proof that you should add balsamic vinegar to your diet?
- Balsamic vinegar contains a powerful antioxidant called polyphenols (like evoo) which fights cell damage, boosts the immune system and may slow the aging process.
- These antioxidants also have the potential to protect against heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
- Balsamic can help boost the activity of the digestive enzyme pepsin, thus improving metabolism.
- Balsamic may help control diabetes. Studies suggest that adding five teaspoons of the vinegar to a meal can improve insulin sensitivity. Better insulin sensitivity translates to better diabetes control and lowered risk of dangerous complications.
- Balsamic can reduce cholesterol levels.
- Balsamic may reduce the frequency of headaches.
- The minerals in balsamic vinegar can strengthen the bones.
- Balsamic can help prevent anemia and fatigue.
- Balsamic can help suppress appetite and therefore an aid in controlling weight.
- Folk healers once used balsamic vinegar to cure body pain and as an energizer.
OUR BALSAMICS & VINEGARS
The sweet, viscous base for most of our balsamics is sourced directly from Modena, Italy. The natural infused flavors are local. We also offer delicious fruit based vinegars infused with organically grown fruit and herbs from California. Again, we take great pride in and respect for our relationships with our growers and producers.