Though it may make some people cringe a little, you can thank the foodie revolution for the upsurge in balsamic vinegar’s popularity. It’s such a simple and pure product, which is at the heart of foodies and their love of genuine ingredients free from mechanized processes and unnecessary influence from other flavor sources. The rise of its popularity is also due to the rise of the home chef looking to do more in the kitchen than a quick-fix meal. Home kitchens are starting to feature commercial-grade equipment, and there is a desire to use high-quality ingredients even if they are at a bit of a premium. Enter aged balsamic vinegar. The multi-barrel, multi-year process of creating this amazing ingredient is what has cast an almost mythical aura over it, but in recent years, people have started finding widely available bottles of the stuff for a few bucks on grocery store shelves. Clearly, there’s a difference in quality.
Assuming that we’re working with an aged balsamic that’s somewhere in the middle of these two price points, the question remains — what do you do with it? Here are a few uses that you need to explore:
Dessert — Pair it with strawberries, figs, apricots, or even chocolate truffles, and you’ll never eat dessert the same way again.
Marinades — If you’re intent on combining flavors with the balsamic vinegar, use it to marinade pork, chicken, and beef. A little will go a long way, but the flavor profile you’ll create will be something else.
Mixing A Drink — If you’re giving up soft drinks but still want some fizzy goodness in your life, try aged balsamic vinegar with some sparkling water.
Salads — A drizzle is all you need, and while some may talk about emulsifications, that would entail adding more stuff to what’s already a great product. Let it speak for itself.
Finish A Meal — In the same way you can use a touch of extra virgin olive oil to top off a dish, aged balsamic can do the same but in much more complex manner.
It’s important to note that aged balsamic vinegar is gaining momentum in terms of its domestic production, which means you can get really well-made balsamic without the premium price that comes with the imported stuff. This gives you a chance to buy as locally as possible, which supports small business, and you also get unique tastes that really capture beautiful areas of the country in a bottle.