About our Balsamics
How is Balsamic Vinegar Made?
Balsamic Condimento is always from Modena, Italy. It is made with Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grapes are mashed and cooked down with water, resulting in what is called “grape must”. The grapes are slowly simmered in copper cauldrons, over an open wood fire then combining this reduction with a very small amount of older balsamic vinegar to help speed acidification.
Aged using the Solera aging method, barrels made of oak, ash, juniper, cherry, mulberry, or chestnut containing this must become progressively smaller as the balsamic becomes thicker and naturally evaporates over time. Each wooden barrel previously contained residual amounts of older balsamic dating back as far as 18 years, and in some cases 25 years, which imbue our balsamic with rich aroma, flavour and color.
The extremely high level of dried extract solids in this must is close to (if not identical) to that of DOP Traditional Balsamic sold exclusively in 100ml bottles. It is the knowledge and skill of the artisan that ultimately makes the greatest balsamic. As with wine making, balsamic vinegar masters aim for particular flavours—a balance of juniper, oak and cherry wood flavours the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
It is this careful process and certification that ensures you are getting Balsamic Vinegar. As with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil market, some unscrupulous producers have entered the market through certification loopholes or the inability to enforce food labeling protection laws. These producers are cutting corners by adding sugar, colourant or thickeners to red wine vinegar, mass producing this low quality Balsamic Vinegar to pass off as the real thing.
Balsamic @ Nelson Olive Oil Co
There are different classifications that are used to describe real Balsamic Vinegar (as you'll see below). At Nelson Olive Oil Co, our Dark Balsamic Vinegars are crafted in Modena, Italy.
The 18 Year Traditional Style Balsamic forms the base of all our Dark Balsamic Vinegars, and is the highest possible quality and best tasting balsamic available to consumers at this price point.
Our White Balsamic Vinegar is also from Modena, Italy. Several years ago, chefs began searching for a product with the same characteristics of Balsamic Vinegar, but without the same dark colour in order to not discolour the presentation of certain salads or prepared dishes. Our White Balsamic Vinegars undergo the same cooking process as our dark balsamics but at a lower temperature so they are not caramelized and are aged in stainless steel vats, not wooden ones, to prevent any flavours or colour development to occur because of contact with wood. The result is a crisp, tart vinegar that still carries forth a beautiful sweetness.
The difference between our Dark and White Balsamic Vinegars is that any balsamic that is not dark means the varietal of grape has been cooked just until they are cooked through. The Dark Balsamic Vinegars are cooked until they begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, resulting in caramelization the sugars which produces a rich, dark flavour and colour. Dark Balsamic Vinegar is stored in wood barrels; White Balsamic Vinegar is stored in stainless steel barrels.
How are the Balsamics Flavoured?
No sugar or sweetener, artificial flavours, or thickeners are ever added to our balsamics. Our balsamics are flavoured with real ingredients or extracts.
For our Dark Balsamic Vinegars, the 18-Year Traditional Style Balsamic forms the base and then real ingredients are used to flavour the vinegar. Similarly, the white balsamic is the base that is then flavoured with real ingredients or extracts. This means they are using the natural oils extracted from the ingredient through expression or maceration, not through chemical processes.
Is Balsamic Vinegar Healthy?
Yes, it is! Balsamic Vinegar retains most of the nutrients present in the parent grapes, so it is full of antioxidants and minerals. It is:
- low in calories
- an all natural source of sweetness
- perfect for healthy lifestyle eating plans, such as paleo or ketogenic diets, and more!
Recent studies have shown that Balsamic Vinegar has certain healthful effects on our bodies, such as aiding with digestion, controlling blood sugar levels, adding anti-oxidants to our diet, and more. So it can be an excellent choice to add to our diet!
Note from our supplier Veronica Foods:
In our never-ending pursuit to offer the highest quality products, we’ve worked tirelessly for decades with our Balsamic partner to continuously raise the bar. Not only were we the first company in the United States to offer a verifiably caramel color-free balsamic to our customers, we’re proud to offer authentic balsamic vinegar made exclusively in Modena Italy, that is truly artisan crafted to be identical to Traditional Extra Vecchio DOP in both flavour and chemical composition. We’ve been able to accomplish this by demanding the highest proportion of barrel aged, kettle-cooked grape must in our products crafted in Modena, Italy. The increase in grape must correlates to the increase in total carbohydrates in our balsamic. Our UP Traditional style balsamic is now comprised of over 97% cooked barrel (traditional batteria) aged grape must. This also equates to a higher amount of grape solids in our product. These solids (when measured in total) also include the natural fruit sugar which originates solely from grapes. While the total solids in our products equate to more carbs, the grape solids (when measured in isolation without their natural sugar included) correspond to a high concentration of natural phenols in our products. We are excited to announce that we’re currently measuring these phenols with the most proficient balsamic labs in the world, and studying their nature with leading scientific experts in Modena, Italy. We know that naturally fermented products such as balsamic vinegar have long been touted as health promoting due to their pro-biotic nature. We also intend to better understand the health implications associated with consuming grape phenols as our products have the highest amount of grape solids measured (minus grape sugar) of any other balsamic product available. We know this will be a valuable portion of the continuing education for our customers and the end consumer. We hope it will be especially useful to talk about these lab measured solids in order to help the consumer identify and avoid products which are “poorly made”, “watered down” or “doctored”.