Balsamic vinegar or aceto balsmico is a kind of dark, concentrated, and intensely flavored vinegar produced from the must of grapes that are stored in wooden barrels for several years. Authentic balsamic vinegar is made from the reduction of pressed Trebbiano (white) and Lambrusco (red) grape varieties in the Modena and Reggio provinces of Italy. The unfermented sweet juice called must is concentrated and blended with carefully selected wine vinegar and aged for as long as 12 years in various types of barrels, such as chestnut, oak, mulberry, and juniper. It is stored indefinitely in a closed container at room temperature, and the best flavor is preserved between 40 and 85°F. There are different versions of balsamic vinegar known for its distinctive, bold, and complex flavor. Balsamic vinegar is used as a popular ingredient in the culinary world and widely included in many food recipes. Balsamic vinegar contains acetic acid, which is now recognized as a powerful antimicrobial agent and is also used as a food preservative. There are several brands of balsamic vinegar available in the market. Good quality balsamic vinegar will have its ingredients listed as “Grape must, tradizionale.” This means that it has been aged for at least 12 years, and the vinegar would be thick and sweet. Cheaper vinegar is usually combined with wine vinegar, caramel, artificial flavorings, and other ingredients.
Classification of balsamic vinegar
- Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emilia
- Commercial balsamic vinegar of Modena
Traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emilia is unique from all other vinegar-based condiments. It is produced from cooked grapes without the addition of any spices or flavoring. It is made into a dense fluid which is a dark brown syrup fluid with a distinct, sharp, and pleasantly acidic fragrance. It has a traditional and inimitable sweet and sour flavor in perfect proportion.
Commercial balsamic vinegar of Modena imitates the traditional product and is mass-produced by aging for a minimum amount of time from 2 months to 3 years. It is produced from wine vinegar to which various additions have been made to stimulate the traditional taste, texture, and color.
Health benefits of balsamic vinegar
Top health benefits associated with acetic acid in balsamic vinegar are as follows:
The most well-documented benefit of balsamic vinegar is its ability to maintain and lower cholesterol levels. The antioxidants present in it blocks the toxic substances in the body that can raise cholesterol levels. The probiotics in the vinegar can also regulate the appetite of a person and manage weight gain.
Helps in diabetes management
Balsamic is one of the several types of vinegar thought to limit spikes in blood glucose levels. If taken in moderation before a meal, it can help manage blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients.
The antimicrobial and antioxidants properties help skin look clearer and brightens the complexion when consumed regularly through diet. The probiotics found in acetic acid reduce acid reflux and heartburn and promote good gut health. The polyphenols present stimulates the enzyme pepsin and assists in digestion and absorption.
Helps in wound healing and acts as a pain reliever
The anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties in vinegar are used as pain relievers and in wound healing since ancient times. It is also known to relieve nasal congestion.
It is low in saturated fat and lowers cholesterol levels. The polyphenols in grapes have been found to keep the blood platelets from clumping. Thus, vinegar supports heart health and regulates blood pressure.
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