What is true Aceto Balsamico Traditional (Balsamic Vinegar)?
True aged traditional balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico tradizionale) production involves the reductive fermentation process of converting caramelized grape juice, called “must”, into a syrup-like sweet & sour vinegar. Grapes used in this process are traditionally White Trebbiano or Red Lambrusco grapes. Traditional methods require that the aceto balsamico is aged for at least 12 years in “old” wood barrels of successively smaller sizes. Typical woods used for the aging process include oak, chestnut, mulberry, ash, juniper, acacia, and cherry.
It is important to note that nothing is added to the caramelized must as it ages. As the aceto balsamico ages (12, 18, 25 years) the volume is reduced through evaporation resulting in a concentrated solution. During this time probiotic wild yeast and acetic bacteria colonize the must and raise its acidity. At the end of the aging process the aceto balsamico tradizionale is delivered to two Italian consortiums in Modena, Italy or Reggio Emilia, Italy for inspection and certification. If the aceto balsamico passes inspection it is filled into 100ml bottles dictated by the Italian consortium, numbered and wax-sealed. Average cost for a 100ml bottle of aceto balsamico tradizionale can range between $200-$500/bottle.
True traditional balsamic is NEVER sold in bulk. Practical cooking applications for Traditional balsamico are somewhat limited by its thickness and cost.
The next best alternative…
Olive and Then Some offers a full line of aged and flavor-infused balsamic condimentos at a fraction of the price. All of our balsamic condimentos are produced in Modena, Italy and follow the strict traditional method with three variations;
- The master barrel is inoculated with a small amount of ultra-premium Red wine vinegar. The addition of Red wine vinegar introduces natural acetic bacteria and yeast which stimulates vinegar production. No other additions occur throughout the aging process.
- As the balsamico ages it is transferred into sequential barrels of smaller size, but unlike the Traditional method it is topped off with a small amount of younger balsamico as it progresses from barrel to barrel. Topping off with younger balsamico is referred to as the “Solera Method.”
- Lastly, these production batches do not undergo the stringent testing by the Italian consortium (DOP). The result of this process is a slightly less viscous aceto balsamico while still maintaining a perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. Most importantly our balsamic condimentos can be used in numerous cooking applications.
It is important to note that like extra-virgin olive oil many of the store-bought “balsamic” vinegars are adulterated consisting of distilled vinegar, thickeners, artificial coloring, molasses, artificial flavoring, syrups, sweeteners. We welcome you to taste the difference!
How is White Balsamic Vinegar produced?
Same process as the Solera method above except for two key changes.
- The grape must is not caramelized.
- The must is aged in “new wood” and not previously used “old wood” aceto balsamico barrels.
When does the flavor-infusion process occur?
Flavor-infusion for our balsamic vinegars occurs after the aging process. Our balsamic condimentos are flavor-infused with ONLY all natural ingredients. .
Are your Balsamic Vinegars Gluten free?
Yes, all of our Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars are Gluten free and produced in Gluten free facilities.