Balsamic Vinegar has been on the culinary scene for hundreds of years, yet within the UK, it’s popularity really only grew with Elizabeth David, and finally reached fever pitch when Delia Smith took up the cause.
Unfortunately, since then, it’s been a bit hit and miss – mainly down to a lack of knowledge from the consumer and labelling that confused things (the names “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena) and “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia” (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia) are protected by both the Italian Denominazione di origine protetta and the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin, while Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Aceto Balsamico di Modena), is an inexpensive modern imitation of the traditional product)
Today the latter is what is widely available and much better known. This is the kind commonly used for salad dressing together with oil.
Of course, with this mass produced product now in the mainstream, Balsamic Vinegar has lost some of its exclusive and artisan accreditation. It is only now that producers are innovating, and thus putting this condiment on the map once again:
Made using the sodium alginate spherification technique, these pearls have a Balsamic vinegar liquid centre, and come in a variety of flavours, including white balsamic, with shallots, black balsamic vinegar and black balsamic vinegar with white truffle.
Balsamic cream is obtained by combining together concentrated grape must and aged balsamic vinegar. It is a rich creamy reduction which lends itself to numerous culinary uses, thus making it very appealing. The Matcha powder used is obtained by selecting the best leaves of different varieties of green tea. The leaves are then hand-picked, steamed, dried and crushed with granite wheels. The combination of balsamic cream and Matcha results in a product with ‘soothing and rejuvenating’ properties (according to the website!). Excellent to season fish and delicious salads.