Monday, May 11, 2009

Balsamic Vinegar

You've probably walked by it in your grocery store. If you haven't tried it, you owe yourself a taste treat. Balsamic vinegar is sweet, with a rich, distinctive taste. I add it to sauteed mushrooms and use it in vinaigrettes. One of my favorite summer indulgences is homegrown tomatoes, chopped into bite-size cubes, with a balsamic vinegar vinaigrette. The juices from the tomatoes mingle with the sweet balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Balsamic vinegar comes from the Modena and Reggio regions in Italy. Although it's commonly thought of as a wine vinegar, the grapes involved are cooked first, and reduced to obtain that lovely sweet flavor. Traditional balsamic vinegar then goes through a long aging process in wood barrels. It seems though, that such traditional balsamic vinegar runs $80 a bottle. Sort of like sourdough starter, a bit was often passed along to children when they married, so they could start their own.

The balsamic vinegar we lowly peasants buy in the grocery store is a lesser version, but still very tasty. Read the label, though, to be sure the sweetness is from the grapes and hasn't been enhanced by brown sugar.

Five cupcakes!

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