[NAFEX] balsamic vinegar

Heron Breen breen at fedcoseeds.com
Fri Sep 9 21:26:50 EDT 2005

Thanks for the Vinegar info Doc,
Living in Maine my whole life seems to have scrambled my eggs...I have for many 
years thought balsmic vinegar was vinegar aged in casks or barrels made from balsam 
fir wood. We have lots of that around here, and nobody is making balsamic vinegar, 
so I should've assumed my brain had skipped a groove.
Heron Breen
zone 4, Maine

On Fri Sep  9 13:00 , 'Stephen Sadler' <Docshiva at Docshiva.org> sent:

>I recalled that Paul Bertolli, a California chef, makes his own Balsamic
>Vinegar.  I tracked down this article from 'Fine Cooking':
>In the third section of the article there's a link to an article called
>'making balsamic vinegar'.
>I would not try this with wood chips.  Balsamic vinegar gains its flavor
>from very long aging in casks of various woods.  The wood adds very little
>flawor, but contributes to the complexity.  Wines using wood chips can taste
>oaky - but wines aged in wood barrels get these nice esters which help
>create - over time - round, fruity, buttery, flavors.  The shortcut of using
>wood chips in wine can still make a nice product, but not exquisite (maybe
>under the guidance of one of those million-dollar-a-year-salary UC Davis
>vinologists, but not generally).  You expose too much surface area of the
>wood to the wine, and extract more compounds early - not the slow release of
>compounds inhibited by the penetration of the grape juice itself providing a
>chemical and physical filter over time. The flavor problems that result are
>worsened with concentration and aging.
>There are inexpensive - and bad - 'balsamic' vinegars that are made using
>wood chips, caramel, and other tricks.  
>The trick chefs use to re-create an approximation of aged balsamic is to buy
>some insalata (younger and more acidic - for salads) balsamic vinegar and
>reduce it.  You can also add a bit grape concentrate to sweeten up the
>flavor, and it picks up some depth.  This can be nice for sauces, but is
>still far from the aged stuff.  
>Grow Trebbiano or Labrusca grapes for the real stuff.  It's such a
>commitment of time, I'd be hesitant to try other grapes, though they would
>probably yield very good, maybe outstanding, product.
>Sherry vinegar and Chinese black rice vinegar are two which are in a class
>with aged balsamic, and are much less expensive.  
>Start off, I think, making 'regular' vinegar.  Homemade vinegars are
>delicious - the quality of the base juice or wine makes a big difference in
>the final product.  A homemade vinegar made with quality wine (or must) will
>be much better than a shortcut balsamic.  And a one-year-old traditionally
>made balsamic will much better than a short-cut two-year-old or older.  It
>would probably be better than a shortcut one-year-old.  
>PS - you don't begin by boiling to a 'thick' syrup - rather you simmer to a
>reduction by one-third.  
>Stephen Sadler, Ph.D.
>USDA 9, AHS heat zone 8, 
>Sacramento CA - Mediterranean climate
>-----Original Message-----
>From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
>[nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org','','','')">nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On 
Behalf Of Thomas Olenio
>Sent: Friday, September 09, 2005 5:06 AM
>To: North American Fruit Explorers
>Subject: [NAFEX] balsamic vinegar
>Hi All,
>I am looking for a means to use some of my grape crop.  Does anyone have  
>the instructions for making balsamic vinager?
>I know making balsamic vinegar differ from regular vinegar in that regular  
>vinegar starts with fermented fruit juice, while balsmic starts with  
>unfermented grape juice (must), that has been boiled down to a thick syrup.
>"Mother of vinegar" is added to the syrup and then it is months and years  
>of aging in various wood casks (different types of wood).
>I wonder if there is process thatt could be altered to use roasted, wood  
>chips (sticks, cubes), available for winemaking (replacing wooden casks).
>I realize that North American balsamic vinegar will be different from  
>other countries, but I am sure it can be done.
>Does anybody have more specific steps for balsamic vinegar making?
>Finding a use for the crop is well within the guidelines of NAFEX and  
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