How to spot if your balsamic vinegar is the real deal
Balsamic vinegar is known to cooks around the world and available to shoppers everywhere.
Given that it is one of the great pleasures of the food world, seeking out an authentic bottle is well worth the time and expense.
We spoke to celebrity chef, Lesego Semenya on what you should know about traditional balsamic vinegar, the history, how to use it and its authenticity.
Semenya said balsamic vinegar is an Italian vinegar that has been made for centuries.
Unlike other kinds of vinegar, balsamic is unique in that it is made from sweet white wine grapes which are juiced and then cooked before being fermented in old wine barrels and that it can only be made in two regions in the world, Modena and Reggio Emilia, both of which are in Italy and the process of making traditional balsamic vinegar hasn't changed in centuries.
“Only about a hundred companies are certified to produce traditional balsamic vinegar and in total only 10000 litres are allowed to be sold to the market each year. The demand for cheaper versions of balsamic grew over the years, particularly in America and this was when the more universally known version of Balsamic vinegar was created,” he said.
Below Semenya shares ways you can people recognize authentic balsamic vinegar and how to use it on food.
How to recognize authentic balsamic vinegar
Traditional balsamic vinegar will have the words "tradizionale" on the bottle.
Traditional balsamic will also typically be sold as a 100ml bottle and have the age of the balsamic on the bottle.
Traditional balsamic will have a minimum age of twelve-years and the bottle will state the estate that bottled it.
Traditional balsamic will have a certification stamp on the box and bottle called a DOP(Protected Denomination of Origin) and signifies that it is authentic and from either Modena or Reggio Emilia.
Traditional balsamic is thick and syrupy and has a sweet acidic taste.
How to use balsamic vinegar
Balsamic can be used to make preserved fruit, particularly berries. The sweet sharpness works well with the tartness of certain berries.
It can be drizzled on ice creams and sorbets and works well with dairy.
It works with meats that are strong in flavour like biltong, duck, and venison. Drizzle it over roasts as soon as they come out of the oven.
In small doses, traditional balsamic can add a different flavour note to your red wine sauces.
Drizzle it over blue cheese and rocket for a flavourful salad. Add walnuts and cranberries for texture.