Balsamic vinegar has a long history which dates back in 1046. Since its introduction, it has been a popular ingredient in most dishes including Italian foods. It is also known to have a medicinal value which makes it a great addition for every kitchen. Though the product was first discovered in Italy, most people across the globe have known the benefits of balsamic vinegar and are not hesitant about investing in them. This has seen the production of more brands to satiate different consumer needs.Due to increased demand for this product, shopping balsamic vinegar has never been as simple as it were before. Most people when shopping for balsamic vinegar tend to pay more attention to the price other than other important aspects. But what they do not understand is that balsamic vinegar is not the same and each brand differs from the other. Investing in the best balsamic vinegar is one of the secrets to enjoying a tart, bold and complex flavor. To make this come true, we have compiled a list of high-quality Balsamic vinegars which are a great addition to your kitchen pantry. We have also featured important aspects you should be on the look-out when shopping. Keep reading to choose one that matches your needs.
Factors to Consider When Buying Balsamic Vinegar
While most balsamic brands out there will allow you to pair them with a varied type of dishes, not every product will bring out great taste in every meal. This is why most producers will list the recommended foods for each type of vinegar. Before jumping in to make your selection, you need to know what dishes you can enjoy. The versatility of your vinegar will vary depending on your culinary preferences.
Balsamic vinegar is available in three different types which include the commercial grade balsamic vinegars, authentic or traditional balsamic vinegars and Condimento grade balsamic vinegar. Traditional balsamic vinegars are the most expensive among the three and are labeled Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale. Unlike other two types of vinegars, authentic traditional balsamic vinegar does not contain any additives, artificial flavors, colors, thickeners or any preservatives.
Commercial balsamic vinegar is affordable and does not require any aging. They are made using wine vinegar and additives to give it a traditional taste and texture artificially. In addition to this, caramel, additives, and flavors may also be used to intensify its flavor to simulate the traditionally aged type.
Condimento balsamic vinegar, on the other hand, is made by mixing mass produced vinegar with traditionally made type. Usually, Condimento grade vinegar is traditionally aged for less than 12 years. Another way to identify a Condimento grade vinegar is where it is produced. If it is made outside Reggio Emilia, or Modena regardless of its production process, it is definitely a Condimento.
Though the type you choose by the end of the day will depend on personal preferences, we would recommend settling for authentic traditionally made balsamic vinegars. Though they may be slightly higher than the other two types, they will offer you massive health benefits.
However, if you cannot afford a traditional type, settling for Condimento grade vinegar is the best alternative. Always try as much as possible to keep off any brand that has additives, caramel, sweetener, thickener or preservatives as they can cause a negative impact on your health.
A great way of determining the quality of your vinegar is by having a look at the type of certification. Balsamic vinegar will either have an IGP, DOP or have no identification. If your preferred brand does not have any certified stamp, you should be keen on where it is produced. If it’s outside Italy then it is not a great sign of quality.
Most Italy made balsamic vinegars have certification stamps. Traditionally aged vinegar will have the IGP while Condimento will have a DOP certification. Note that, though Condimento balsamic vinegar is aged traditionally for a lesser period as compared to authentic type, they can serve the same purpose as the authentic vinegar and can be a great addition to your pantry.
In case you happen to settle for the Condimento vinegar, ensure you store it away from strong light and intense flavors.
Top 8 Best Balsamic Vinegars
1. MiaBella Balsamic Vinegar
Enjoy great versatility and turn your culinary experience memorable with this balsamic vinegar from MiaBella. The vinegar is made from 100% Trebbiano grape juice which is left for 18 years to age in Juniper and oak barrels for that dark, tart, complex flavor.
Compared to other balsamic vinegars, MiaBella is smooth with a natural acidity of 4.5% which is perfect for those who don’t love Balsamic. The vinegar is sweet with a great and distinctive flavor to spice up your meals.
It can be paired with vegetables, desserts, salads, fruits, meat, cheese, and vanilla ice cream. Adding it in your pantry will bring out the hidden flavors in your meals. Due to its versatility and distinct flavor, MiaBella is probably one of the best balsamic vinegar for strawberries in the market today.
2. Due Vittorie Oro Gold Balsamic Vinegar
Due Vittorie Balsamic Vinegar is where quality and tradition meet. The vinegar has been for years trusted by Big restaurants globally and has been voted for three years in a row as one of the best balsamic vinegar for professional chefs.
This Traditional balsamic vinegar is made from Lambrusco grapes and white Trebbiano when they are still fresh. The juice is then stored on barrels for the tannins to be transferred and to intensify the wood essence.
Before bottling is done, the vinegar undergoes through stringent laboratory tests to ensure it meets all the industry standards and ensure you enjoy consistency bottle after bottle. With a natural acidity of 4.5%, this balsamic vinegar will up your culinary experience by leaving your family and friends with an unforgettable rich flavor.
From deserts, salads, fruits, vanilla ice cream, cheese, fish, to meat, and even strawberries, this great vinegar is an incredible addition to your kitchen. The vinegar does not contain any additives, added flavors or caramels. It comes with a cork pourer making it a great gift for a foodie or professional chef.
3. Ellora Farms | Pure Balsamic Vinegar
Elorra Farm's balsamic vinegar is a 100% natural product which is produced from red grapes of Greek varieties and aged for six months to intensify the wood essence. It comes as a two pack balsamic vinegar spray which can be used on ice creams, mozzarella, salads, feta, roasted vegetables, mussels and much more.The vinegar boasts of its rich sweet and sour flavor which brings out great taste in every meal.
4. QO Organic Thick Aged Balsamic Vinegar
Enjoy premium quality balsamic vinegar that has been traditionally barrel aged to give you an authentic Italian flavor. The vinegar boasts of its well-balanced flavor which allows you to enjoy that true Italian flavor whenever you need to.
It is normally made in Modena Italy using high-quality grape varieties which are subjected to a stringent production process for a superb taste.
The product is 100% natural and does not contain any additives, colors, thickeners or sweetener so you can have confidence when adding it in your pantry. QO organic balsamic vinegar pairs well with varied dishes like meat, burgers, veggies, fish, strawberries, ice cream, fruits, dark chocolate, salads, cheese, pork among others.
5. Guiseppe Giusti -Italian Balsamic Wine Vinegar
Bring Italian flavors to your home with this Italian balsamic vinegar from Guiseppe. The vinegar is produced from Trebbiano and Lambrusco grape varieties which are carefully selected and stored in barrels for aging.
The production process is carefully conducted to ensure you get premium quality vinegar with a rich, intense, complex flavor. Its IGP certification seal is a sure sign of a premium quality product which has been tested and surpassed the recommended industry standards.
Its true classic flavor is great for pairing it with fresh fruit, beef, ravioli, and soft cheese. Due to its quality, Guiseppe is one of the best balsamic vinegar in Italy and adding it in your pantry will offer you great health benefits.
6. Oliviers & Co Premium Balsamic Vinegar
This balsamic vinegar is a premium quality product which has been made to allow you to enjoy the quality of tradition. It has a sweet honey texture and dark color which makes it stand out from its peers.
The vinegar is 100% natural and boasts of its unique traditional production which involves a stringent process to ensure you enjoy quality at its best. The vinegar is usually produced from the best olive oils from an olive tree which is subjected to a long aging process to optimize its flavors.
Year after year, the vinegar has been voted as one of the best brands. It is a great addition to roasts, steamed, grilled meat, artichokes, strawberries, ice cream, and veggies prepared in any method giving you a chance to enjoy the purest of tradition.
7. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena by The Balsamic Guy
Get the taste of an authentic Italian flavor with The Balsamic Guy vinegar. The product is made from cooked grapes which are carefully selected to ensure you enjoy quality at its best. It is then aged for a minimum of 25 years. Before it is bottled, the vinegar is tested and tasted by experts to makes sure it has met all the industry standards.With this vinegar, you can pair it with fish, fruits, meat, salads, veggies, desserts, cheese, or on its own. The vinegar is DOP certified and has managed to score good rating making it a great addition to your pantry.
8. Balsamic Vinegar By Emilia Food Love
Emilia balsamic vinegar is usually made from a blend of Trebbiano, Lambrusco, Fortana, Albana, Sangiovese, Montuni and Ancelotta vines for a unique and intense complex flavor.
Normally, the vinegar is aged for a minimum of 4 years in wooden barrels to allow it to intensify the wood essence. During its production, no added sugars, caramels, preservatives, thickeners, or colorings are added allowing you to enjoy a natural authentic Italian Modena.
Emilia vinegar goes well with fish, meat dishes when added during the cooking process. Unlike standard balsamic vinegars which do not have intense flavors, adding this Emilia vinegar to your food will bring out an authentic Italian taste.
Benefits of using Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is not just like any ordinary vinegar, and adding it to your diet will offer great health benefits. And here are the benefits you will enjoy.
High cholesterol levels in the body have been linked with health complications like cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, and obesity among others. Studies have shown that introducing balsamic vinegar to your diet can help keep these cholesterol levels controlled.
Lower blood sugar levels
People with high sugar levels can benefit from taking balsamic vinegar with time. When introduced to your diet, it can maintain your sugar levels in the body by keeping them in check.
Enhances skin health
Balsamic vinegar is rich in antioxidants and acetic acid which are essential for glowing skin. Though the results are not instant, consuming the vinegar for a period of time will help improve your complexion. Note that balsamic vinegar has a rich dark color and should not be applied to the skin.
Promotes healthy digestion
The acetic acid present on balsamic vinegar is rich in probiotics which promote healthy digestion and gut.
How to use balsamic vinegar properly
Adding balsamic vinegar to your diet is known to offer significant health benefits. But knowing how to use it properly for different meals will help you get the best out of your vinegar. And here are tips of using your vinegar.
Use the correct amount
The quantity of vinegar you use will vary depending on the type of dish you are preparing. Using excess quantities will ruin your dish.
For balsamic vinegar with 12 years or more aging period, use drop by drop while tracking the flavors. For those under 12 years, you can start with a teaspoon. Note that balsamic vinegar will continue to age as time goes by and its taste may change.
Before using it on any dish, it is highly recommended to pour it on a teaspoon and taste it with the tip of your tongue. This will allow you to determine the right quantity to use.
Type of food
Balsamic vinegar can be used on cooked food or raw vegetables. For best results, you will be required to use it in a special order. When using on meat or any other cooked food, ensure you sprinkle the right quantity when the food is almost ready. This is due to the fact that balsamic vinegar is sensitive to high temperatures and cooking it with food for long will ruin its flavor. It should be the last ingredient to use.
For raw veggies or salads, put salt, balsamic vinegar, and oil in that order. Putting your vinegar first then salt and oil will make it hard for the salt to blend well with the mixture and will also ruin the taste of your vinegar. Using oil first will bar the vinegar flavor from spreading well on the food.
If you have different meals, do not put vinegar in every particular food. For instance, if you are cooking meat and have some veggies to accompany the dish, decide which one to flavor but not both. Remember everything in excess will always have an impact and as much as balsamic vinegar is good to your health, it should be used in right amounts.
Frequent Balsamic Vinegar Questions
How long does balsamic vinegar last?
Balsamic vinegar can stay for long without going bad. Without refrigeration, balsamic vinegar can last 3 to 5 years. Exposure to air can deteriorate its quality. Always keep it tightly closed after use in a dark, clean place away from heat and light.
Is balsamic vinegar safe to use after the expiry date?
Manufacturers usually indicate the expiry date for their products and balsamic vinegar is not an exception. However, most of the products when they reach the indicated date, they are not recommended for use but this is not the case with balsamic vinegar. The indicated date on the bottle only shows the time at which the vinegar is at its great quality.
Using it after its expiry date will not have any negative effect but the quality will be slightly lower.
Does balsamic vinegar go bad?
Balsamic vinegar does not go bad, only its quality deteriorates. Sometimes the vinegar may become cloudy but this is not something to worry about. Provided you have stored the product well, a cloudy appearance should not be a cause for alarm.
Is it safe to refrigerate balsamic vinegar?
While balsamic vinegar is not recommended to be stored in light or hot places, they are not also good for the refrigerator. Storing them inside will attract other food smell which will eventually ruin the flavor. Worse still, the vinegar will draw water which will slowly dilute the flavor making it lose its great taste.
Why balsamic vinegar has a cloudy appearance on the bottom?
With time, your vinegar may become cloudy. This is a natural occurrence. The cloudy appearance is usually called "mother of vinegar" and occurs when cellulose from the grapes fiber breakdown. To get rid of it, you can either use a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Using your vinegar with the cloudy mass does not pose any impact or deteriorate its quality.
What makes the best Balsamic Vinegar?
- A quality balsamic vinegar should meet the industry standards
- A good balsamic vinegar should bring out an intense flavor in all the recommended dishes
- A quality balsamic vinegar should be of the right quantity, texture, and color
- A good balsamic vinegar should serve its intended purpose
- A good balsamic vinegar should pair with different dishes
Having a bottle of authentic balsamic vinegar in your pantry will spice up your meals and give you memorable culinary experiences. Though the market offers a wide variety of this, you should be keen on which type vinegar you settle for. While we all can't fit on the same financial capabilities, it is highly recommended to go for the best balsamic vinegar which meets all the industry standards. Though you may spend extra bucks on the product, they are worth it.
Do not fall for poor quality brands. Take advantage of our top quality brands and choose one that matches your culinary needs. Only balsamic vinegar from Italy will give you a true Italian flavor.