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Old 09-21-2007, 04:32 PM   #11
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Here is some more info.
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:35 PM   #12
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OMG, GB, you're right! I had no idea. Thanks for this info. Of course, now I have to begin saving for a bottle of the real stuff!
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:37 PM   #13
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You and me both. We can save our pennies together and share a bottle if you want
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
Most of the balsamic vinegars you find here are actually just regular vinegar with caramel coloring added.

The real stuff can be VERY expensive and VERY old (hundreds of years).
The commercially produced stuff can be super cheap, but it still must be produced from a grape product. In some cases, they start with a wine vinegar, and in others it can be concentrated grape juice, fermented, and sugars and caramels are added. The cheap stuff is typically aged at least 6 months, but no longer than 2 years.

That’s why it’s good to stick with a name you trust, and look for products that declare they have been aged in wooden barrels.
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:43 PM   #15
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You and me both. We can save our pennies together and share a bottle if you want
Absolutely! (It never hurts to schmooze the site admin.!) My friend just got back from a trip that included a week in Italy and silly me, I asked her to bring me back a piece of Venetian glass. She's already planning her trip for next year so I'm asking for balsamic!
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
The commercially produced stuff can be super cheap, but it still must be produced from a grape product. In some cases, they start with a wine vinegar, and in others it can be concentrated grape juice, fermented, and sugars and caramels are added. The cheap stuff is typically aged at least 6 months, but no longer than 2 years.
True balsamic does not have any caramels added. It is also not fermented.

The juice from Trebbiano grapes are boiled down until it becomes a dark syrupy consistency. A mother is added and it all goes into oak barrels. As it ages it is generally moved to smaller and smaller barrels. These barrels can be different types of wood other than oak.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
The commercially produced stuff can be super cheap, but it still must be produced from a grape product. In some cases, they start with a wine vinegar, and in others it can be concentrated grape juice, fermented, and sugars and caramels are added. The cheap stuff is typically aged at least 6 months, but no longer than 2 years.

That’s why it’s good to stick with a name you trust, and look for products that declare they have been aged in wooden barrels.

I have a bottle of balsamic vinegar I paid less than $10. for. It's labeled:

Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Sweet Vinegar of Modena
Acidity 6%
Product of Italy

I bought it in a MA supermarket and there is no listing of ingredients on the label. Knowing the labeling laws, I have to assume ther is nothing in the bottle but Aged Balsamic Vinegar. If it contained brown sugar or caramel color, etc. it would have to be listed.

As it was not expensive, I assume it is a younger balsamic rather than one aged to a sweeter, richer, thicker consistency.

Has my logical mind led me astray? If so, tell me how.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:11 PM   #18
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Balsamic taste changes as it’s aged. The older it is, the sweeter it becomes, and the less tart and “vinegary” it is. Good commercially produced Balsalmics adhere to the “leaf system” as mandated by the CTAB. These vinegars start with a wine vinegar base and then add aged balsamic to it. The leaf system determines the ratio of the mixture.

0 leaf – about 95% wine vinegar and often with caramel added.
1 leaf – a nice balance of sweet and vinegar and perfect for salad vinaigrettes.
2 leaf – Much sweeter, and the sweetness is to the point where the vinegar bite is rather mellow. Nice marinade or to drizzle over a finished dish, or pour it directly onto your salad. This is my favorite.
3 leaf – Even sweeter, good for gravies, sauces, red meats.
4 leaf – Thick and super sweet with only a hint of vinegar. Better suited for desserts.

Not all commercial manufacturers have adopted the leaf system, so beware. If you buy balsamic, look for one that does use the leaf system. You can get a 2 leaf balsamic for under 5 bucks, and the average price is 10.

One leaf is cheaper, and 3 leaf slightly more expensive.

Or you can go nuts and get the real deal.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:14 PM   #19
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Did it have an official Modena seal on it Andy?

I have read of a ton of manufacturers labeling their fake balsamic just the way yours is labeled. Only the true stuff will have the real seal. Of corse some of them have seals, but just not the actual seal.
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:18 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keltin View Post
Balsamic taste changes as it’s aged. The older it is, the sweeter it becomes, and the less tart and “vinegary” it is. Good commercially produced Balsalmics adhere to the “leaf system” as mandated by the CTAB. These vinegars start with a wine vinegar base and then add aged balsamic to it. The leaf system determines the ratio of the mixture.

0 leaf – about 95% wine vinegar and often with caramel added.
1 leaf – a nice balance of sweet and vinegar and perfect for salad vinaigrettes.
2 leaf – Much sweeter, and the sweetness is to the point where the vinegar bite is rather mellow. Nice marinade or to drizzle over a finished dish, or pour it directly onto your salad. This is my favorite.
3 leaf – Even sweeter, good for gravies, sauces, red meats.
4 leaf – Thick and super sweet with only a hint of vinegar. Better suited for desserts.

Not all commercial manufacturers have adopted the leaf system, so beware. If you buy balsamic, look for one that does use the leaf system. You can get a 2 leaf balsamic for under 5 bucks, and the average price is 10.

One leaf is cheaper, and 3 leaf slightly more expensive.

Or you can go nuts and get the real deal.
That leaf system describes traditional and non-traditional balsamic vinegar. To me that means real balsamic and what people now call balsamic even though it does not qualify by the original definition.
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