Useful Tips

What is balsamic vinegar?


Balsamic vinegar is a seasoning invented in the Italian city of Modena, located in the Emilia Romagna region, in the Middle Ages. However, all balsamic vinegars are different from each other. Original balsamic vinegar is a product made from boiled and seasoned juice of Trebbiano white grape. The production of balsamic vinegar continues today, and the finished product is very expensive. The high cost of balsamic vinegar is due to the fact that the period of exposure can reach 12 years or more. Upon reaching a certain density and acid, vinegar is transferred to smaller barrels and continues to withstand. Some varieties of balsamic vinegar can withstand for 18 and even 25 years. Tart, not boiled balsamic vinegar is suitable for salad dressings and marinades. Truly seasoned, thick and sweet balsamic vinegar is used to decorate ice cream and desserts such as panna cotta. Here are some tips on how to buy good balsamic vinegar.

Balsamic vinegar, what is it?

Balsamic vinegar or balsamic is a seasoning that has a bright sweet taste with a characteristic sourness.
Produced balsamic from grape must. Raw materials are preliminarily aged in wooden barrels.

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To create the best original balsamic vinegar, grapes of sweet varieties are suitable, for example: lambrusco, spergola and berzemino.

Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes.

The birthplace of balsamic vinegar is the province of Modena, Italy. The place belongs to the region of Emilia-Romagna.
The original balsamic is viscous, has a dark color and a rich aroma of ripe fruit. The basis of the balsamic made in an easier way is red wine and vinegar. Such a product is cheaper, has a different taste and less saturated color.

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A bit of history

In 1046, the most powerful ruler of Italy, Boniface III of Canos, arrived in Rome to the coronation of the German ruler Henry III. As a gift, the new head of the Holy Roman Empire received a small barrel with balsamic from an Italian dignitary. This fact was documented, which was the first ever mention of an elite seasoning, which is still referred to as “king of vinegar».

The custom of giving aged balsamic quickly spread among the European aristocracy. Vinegar was inherited and included in the dowry. No wonder, after all it can be stored for decades without losing its unique properties.

Initially, a magnificent seasoning was used as a medicine with strong antiseptic properties. It was applied to wounds, used as a rinse for diseases of the throat and oral cavity.

Lucretia Borgia considered balsamic vinegar effective protection against the plague, and the famous heartthrob Giacomo Casanova - an effective aphrodisiac.

Currently, about 300 family-owned enterprises with a long tradition are involved in the production of “royal seasoning”. Interesting fact: among them there is a factory founded by relatives of Luciano Pavarotti.

What balsamic vinegar is made of

Balsamic is made from unclarified freshly squeezed grape juice (the so-called wort) obtained by pressing. For the classic recipe, white grapes are taken, which makes the product more fragrant.

Boiled to a dark thick mass, the juice is poured into wooden barrels, placed in the attic and left to ripen for at least 3 years. The optimum for a high-quality "balsamic" is considered to be a holding period of 12 years.

Where do balsamic vinegar add?

Balsamic vinegar is an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine.
Used in fresh salads. A particularly unique combination is obtained by mixing balsamic with olive oil. In Italy, the use of this product in soups, desserts, as part of marinades and at the final stage of cooking meat dishes is practiced.

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Balsamic vinegar combined with a wide variety of products

Italian classics include tomatoes and local mozzarella, combined with balsamic vinegar and aromatic olive oil.
Balsamic also helps to “reveal” all the flavoring shades of strawberries, Parmesan cheese and fresh seafood.

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The best manufacturers and how to choose

Only two provinces in the north of Italy produce original balsamic vinegar, which would be more appropriate to call it sauce: Modena (brand Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena) and Reggio Emilia (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia). Small enterprises in both areas try to adhere to the recipe precisely, because the products have a protected designation of the region of origin.

But there is also a cheaper analogue of balsamic vinegar - based on wine.
Its taste and benefits are not comparable with an authentic product. But the price is an order of magnitude lower than that of the present. It is such vinegar, produced not in single lots, but on an industrial scale, that can be found on the shelves of our supermarkets.

There is an average option. Italian manufacturers of traditional balsamic varieties offer such a variety as conimento - a high quality product, but having some deviations from the standards. For example, aging is less than 12 years or the manufacturing plant is located in another province, and therefore its goods are not properly certified. In this case, it will be possible to acquire the desired delicacy quite inexpensively.

How much does balsamic vinegar cost on average?

The price of traditional Modena balsamic vinegar aged more than 13 liters starts at 500 € / liter.
"Young" vinegar costs in the range of 40-50 €, and more mature about 70 €.

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Vinegar made with red wine is less seasoned and cheaper.

Selection rules

  1. Original balsamic vinegar necessarily has the prefix Tradizionale in its name. As part of such a product - only grape must with no foreign additives, as the inscription on the label should indicate. The acidity of the natural product does not exceed 6%.
  2. Seasoning from Modena is bottled with square bottom bottles. In other cities in the Emilia-Romagna region, light glass containers are used that resemble a tulip in shape.
  3. Both manufacturers have developed their own “age” designation system for the product.

  • in young, refined vinegar, ripening 12 years old, it is creamy
  • over 25 years old - golden.

Seasoning from Reggio Emilia has a different color labels:

  • red - 12 years of aging
  • silver - over 18
  • gold - from 25 and more.

Conimento products are not subject to stringent quality controls. Therefore, in order not to be mistaken, it is necessary to study the composition of balsamic vinegar. The presence of sugar, colorants, artificial flavors, thickeners and preservatives speaks for itself. It is better to refuse such seasoning.

Composition and process of creating balsamic vinegar

To make a quality balsamic is more difficult and much longer than other types of vinegar, for example, apple, wine.
There are two known methods for creating balsamic vinegar: production and home.
The basis of the future balsamic is only raw ripe grapes without defects. In the comfortable climate of Emilia-Romagna and Modena just such grapes ripen. After harvesting, grape juice is squeezed out and boiled until the volume of grape must is 40% of the initial one, then vinegar is prepared from the must.
Vinegar storage tanks have a volume of 10 to 100 liters and are made from valuable tree species (oak, cherry, chestnut, etc.).

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Balsamic vinegar matures in wooden barrels

The taste and aroma of the final product depends on the type of wood. Filled barrels should be stored in the attics. Every spring, vinegar is poured into a barrel of a smaller volume, and a new portion of fresh wort is poured into the largest.
As in the Middle Ages, today the technology and types of spices that make up the traditional balsamic are kept secret.

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Benefit and harm

“Vinegar of Kings” contains almost the entire periodic table, but especially rich in iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Also, it includes vitamins of group B, retinol (A) and ascorbic acid (C). It is not surprising that balsamic has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the cardiovascular system and the gastrointestinal tract, strengthens the immune system, helps fight infectious diseases and pathogenic microflora, and prevents the growth of malignant tumors.

Vinegar added to dishes stimulates digestion, accelerating the absorption of heavy foods and preventing the accumulation of cholesterol.

It is believed that with the regular use of this seasoning, as well as other products related to Mediterranean cuisine, it is possible to extend active longevity, reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, sclerosis, psychosomatic disorders and improve memory.

But it’s important not to overdo it. Excessive consumption of any vinegar, including balsamic vinegar, can provoke an exacerbation of gastritis or stomach ulcers. To prevent this from happening, in classic Italian cuisine, balsamic is mixed with olive oil.

How many years does it take to ferment balsamic vinegar?

The ripening process of “young” / refined vinegar is completed in 12 years. It takes 13 more years for balsamic vinegar to become “mature”. The color of aged balsamic is close to black, the consistency is dense, and the aroma is bright, fruity. Shelf life of aged more than 12 liters. balsamic vinegar is not limited. After opening, balsamic vinegar can be stored in a cool place up to 10 liters.

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An open bottle of red wine-based vinegar can be stored in the refrigerator for no more than 1 year.

Balsamic vinegar originally from Modena is poured into 100 ml glass bottles. The bottom of the tank has a square shape. Vinegar from other places of Emilia-Romagna is bottled in bottles of classic design.

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The color of the lid indicates the aging time of the product.
So, in Modena, “young” vinegar has a beige lid, and “seasoned” - gold.
Real vinegar made in Italy always contains the inscription "tradizionale" in the name.

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How to choose high-quality balsamic vinegar you will learn from the video:

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What balsamic vinegar is eaten with: use in cooking

Due to the complex bouquet and pronounced fruity notes, balsamic is equally suitable for both spicy and sweet dishes.

For example, panna cotta is decorated with strawberries marinated in vinegar. Seasoning is also included in sweet berry sauces for ice cream or dressings for fruit salads.

Balsamic also perfectly sets off the taste:

  • grilled meat
  • seafood
  • cheeses, especially young ones like mozzarella or ricotta
  • vegetables, both raw and grilled
  • fish
  • soups
  • omelet
  • chicken liver

  • spaghetti bolognese
  • mozzarella with tomatoes and arugula
  • bruschetta
  • marinara sauce
  • pizza
  • caprese salad
  • Panna cotta
  • carpaccio
  • risotto

Three balsamic dressing recipes

  1. Basic - suitable for salads of fresh vegetables and herbs. At 3 tbsp. l olive oil take 1 tbsp. l vinegar and mix. Season the dish right before serving.
  2. With pesto sauce. A great alternative to mayonnaise for those who adhere to the rules of a healthy diet. In equal proportions, you need to take balsamic and pesto, and then add twice as much olive oil.
  3. Garlic - ideal for protein salads.

Add a pinch of ground black pepper and salt, as well as a crushed clove of garlic to the base dressing. Give a little infusion and use as directed.

Salad dressing with balsamic vinegar

For refueling you will need the following products:

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  • Oregano and thyme
  • a glass of olive oil
  • 3 full tbsp. l balsamic
  • salt and pepper.

All ingredients must be mixed and poured into a glass container, tightly closed.

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This sauce goes well with fresh vegetables.

Arugula and Balsamic Vinegar Salad

To refuel you need to prepare:

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  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar (note: white balsamic vinegar is made from white wine vinegar and grape must. Using white balsamic vinegar allows you to keep the color of the dressing light),
  • 4 tbsp olive oil,
  • some salt and pepper.

For a salad you will need 200 gr. arugula, hard cheese (parmesan), toasted nuts (pinecones / almonds). Cheese and nuts should be taken in a quarter cup. Mix lemon juice and balsamic, pour in olive oil, add a little salt and pepper, grate cheese, fry nuts in a dry frying pan. Arugula should be washed and dried, sprinkled with greens, grated cheese, mix, pour plenty of sauce, mix again and add nuts.

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You will learn another recipe for a delicious salad with balsamic vinegar dressing from the video:

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Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

For this dish you will need:

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  • Chicken breast 500 gr.,
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • olive oil in the amount of 2 tablespoons,
  • bulb,
  • balsamic vinegar, quarter tbsp.,
  • tomatoes 3-4 pcs.,
  • 1/2 tsp basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary

Rinse the chicken fillet, add salt and pepper. Preheat the pan, fry the onion, garlic in oil on it, add the fillet and fry for a few more minutes, add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and seasonings. Stew under the lid for 25 minutes.

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Potato with balsamic vinegar

To implement this recipe you need to take:

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  • 900 gr. potatoes
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil,
  • fragrant rosemary and thyme,
  • a little nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp classic balsamic
  • several chopped cloves of garlic,
  • salt,
  • pepper.

Heat oil in a saucepan, add potatoes, garlic, nutmeg and herbs, mix, put in the oven.
In a oven preheated to 200 °, bake potatoes for 30 minutes. without lid until tender, then add the balsamic and mix again. Salt and pepper. Bake for 6 minutes.

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You can cook a similar dish without an oven, the recipe you will learn from the video:

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Caramelized Onions with Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients for Snacks:

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  • Onion 5 pcs.,
  • olive + butter for 2 tablespoons,
  • balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp.,
  • sugar, preferably brown 1 tsp,
  • some salt.

Cut the onion into rings. Heat olive oil and butter in a saucepan, add onion, fry for 7-10 minutes, add salt and cover. When the onions turn golden, add sugar, mix and simmer over low heat. When the onion turns brown, sprinkle it with a slightly warmed balsamic and mix.

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How to replace balsamic vinegar

You can cook it yourself.
The recipe for balsamic vinegar at home:

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  • cherry berries 2 tbsp.,
  • vinegar 9% 1/2 l.,
  • sugar tablespoon,
  • ground cinnamon, half tsp,
  • lemon zest.

Cherry must be crushed in a glass form, add vinegar, sugar, cinnamon powder, lemon zest, put on a small fire and cook for 20 minutes after boiling. Cool, pour into a bottle, refrigerate. After 2 days, strain.

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Genuine balsamic vinegar cannot be replaced, so the method is only a variation of this balsamic vinegar.

But, balsamic vinegar, prepared with your own hands, is perfect for fresh salads, vegetable dishes and desserts.

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Fresh salads will get an excellent taste with homemade balsamic vinegar.

You can truly enjoy gourmet dishes seasoned with an original balsamic in the historical homeland of this unique product - Italian Modena.

What you need to know about balm in order to choose the right one?

Balsamic vinegar was first mentioned in documents of 1046, when an unusual gift was presented to the German King Henry II by the Italian marquise. This served as the reason that they began to call seasoning worthy of kings. The Austrian Emperor Franz, when he ascended the throne in the 18th century, was presented with a small barrel with this product.

For a long time it was used only by noble and wealthy persons. Even as a legacy from generation to generation and dowry for the bride passed this product. Today balsamic vinegar is produced both at family enterprises and at large enterprises. That is why the names of their owners flaunt on many barrels.

The inhabitants are often interested not only in how to choose balsamic vinegar in the store, but also where it is produced. It was first made in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna of the province of Modena. A unique product was prepared only by middle and upper class families. Then it was used only in medicine, called a medicine and treated many diseases.

Some interesting facts that influence the choice of real vinegar

What is the name associated with - balsamic? When he appeared in the Renaissance, he began to be used as a balm. It served to treat wounds and relieve sore throats. Was it effective? Yes, the effect was observed.Due to the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of balsamic vinegar, it was called a magical tool. Even the plague was sometimes treatable by medieval Aesculapius. Before an appointment, Casanova himself used the balm as an aphrodisiac.

What is the difference between a real seasoning and a fake one? How to choose a balsamic real? The true traditional balm is inherent in almost black color, and the consistency is very thick. Balsamic spill is made in a capacity of 100 ml. Each bottle is labeled Tradizionale. Good traditional vinegar is pretty much appreciated. Inexpensive options are also sometimes good.

What is the reason for the high price of balm? The fact is that it is made from high-quality grape must. It takes 12 years to fully ripen the seasoning.

What is balsamic vinegar mixed with? This is almost always done. Most often, olive oil is added. Together, these two ingredients are a great salad dressing. Using this sauce, you can effectively fight cholesterol.

The cooking process affects the quality.

Making quality balsamic vinegar is quite long and complicated. Apple or wine counterparts are much easier to make. Balsamic can be prepared in two ways: industrial and artisanal. The best product in the world is considered to be a product made in the first way in Modena. To obtain the final balm you need a special kind of grape. Italians use "lambrusco", "spergola". Collect them on the plantations of Emilia-Romagna.

First, grape berries are carefully selected. We need fully ripened, not spoiled and in no case chemically treated grapes. The ripening of such quality clusters is facilitated by the special climatic conditions of the Italian provinces.

Then comes the recycling process. First, the yield is squeezed, and then the resulting juice is boiled. The process is continued until the initial volume is reduced to 40%. After that, a thick and dark grape must is obtained. From it they make a real balsamic.

To pour vinegar, barrels made from different types of wood are used. Each vessel fills the balm with its aroma. A barrel of chestnut saturates vinegar with a dark color. Also found are containers of cherry, juniper, oak. Barrels come in different sizes, the largest hold up to 100 liters of vinegar. For filled containers there are special rooms in the attics. The process of creating balsamic continues there under the influence of a change in temperature. A year later, in the spring, a smaller barrel is placed next to a large barrel and part of the defended grape must is cast into it. After a year, the wort is again poured into a smaller barrel. This is done for 12 years. The mature matured product is ready for use at the 13th year. It becomes dark brown or almost black in color, very thick and with a stable aroma. It is worth noting that the masters of past centuries and modern manufacturers strictly classified the exact technology and name of spices that give vinegar a unique taste.

The balsamic made in Modena is poured into transparent thick glass bottles. The bottom of such bottles is square in shape. But companies from other provinces of Emilia-Romagna produce bottles in the form of an inverted tulip. Various lids are used to seal containers: lighter ones indicate less seasoned vinegar, and darker ones indicate more mature vinegar.

Often you can meet with an industrial type of balsamic. It is produced by companies that do not have certificates, so it can not be called traditional. In such vinegar add dye, sugar, flavor. Such a product does not have an aging term and is affordable.

Some nuances of choice: what to look for?

Many readers are interested in the question, which balsamic vinegar is better to choose. Reviews indicate that this is a very crucial moment. It should be noted right away that even Italians buy balsamic vinegar at different prices. There is an industrial version for 2-3 euros per 250 ml. Traditional vinegar costs from 100 to 1000 euros for the same bottle. The price depends on the exposure time. So, how to choose good quality balsamic vinegar?

  1. No need to chase cheapness. Low price indicates low product exposure. Not sure how to choose balsamic vinegar? Test purchases prove that expensive balsamic is of high quality and healthy. You can choose a middle ground for yourself.
  2. Pay attention to the composition indicated on the label. Sugar, dyes, preservatives speak of an industrial product. Natural traditional balm consists only of grape must.
  3. Take a note if you do not know how to choose balsamic vinegar in the store, remember that the exposure should be at least 3 years. Look carefully at the label.
  4. If this is a real product from Modena, then the certificate is indicated on the bottle: Certified by ICEA and Controllo Autorizzata dal MiPAAF.
  5. Remember that in Italy, the product must have a certificate. If it is indicated that vinegar is traditional, then so it is.
  6. On the highest quality balsamic from Emilia-Romagna there is a special yellow-blue sign.

The choice of balsamic according to cost

The best manufacturers of balsamic vinegar are evidenced by reviews. Naturally, grape must, which is aged for at least 12 years, costs 500 euros per liter and higher. A young 3-year-old balsamic from manufacturers is estimated at 40-50 euros. An intermediate product costs 70-100 euros.

In stores, inexpensive options are often sold. They are usually prepared with the addition of red wine and wine vinegar. Excerpt from such a balm is small. This balsamic is cheap, but it tastes like traditional. Even such a product can give some dishes an acceptable taste.

Application area

Young varieties of balsamic vinegar are suitable for dressing salads and soups. Seasoning with medium exposure is added to desserts, meat, fish. Sometimes they pour strawberries, ice cream. High leaven balm comes as a separate sauce and looks like jelly.

It is important to know that balsamic vinegar can not be subjected to strong heat, so it is added to the finished dishes. You must understand that to enhance the taste it is enough to sprinkle the food with a few drops of this vinegar. Therefore, a small 100 gram seasoning bottle can last a long time.

Especially combined balsamic with parmesan. If you give someone a bottle of this dressing, then you can not worry about its value. Such a gift is worthy even of kings.

Salad Dressing Ingredient

Italians most often use balsamic in dressings for various salads. We offer you several recipes for sauces and dressings with balsamic vinegar:

  • The main traditional recipe. To prepare it, just mix vinegar with olive oil 1: 3. Salads with the following ingredients can be seasoned with this sauce: arugula, parmesan, strawberries, shrimp, tomatoes, mozzarella. Also can be used: parsley, lettuce, basil, olives, bell pepper, smoked sausages.
  • Balsamic sauce and pesto. This is a delicate dressing. To prepare it, just mix 2 tablespoons of these two ingredients and add olive oil. This sauce becomes a substitute for our mayonnaise.
  • Dressing with garlic. It is enough to add a clove of garlic to olive oil and vinegar, and the salad will acquire a special taste.
  • Honey mustard sauce with balsamic. Additional ingredients in this sauce are honey and Dijon mustard.
  • Herbal sauce: oregano and caraway seeds.

Analogs of Balsamic Vinegar

The most refined is considered real balsamic vinegar. You have already read that its manufacture is different from the production of ordinary vinegar. Residents of the Caucasus and Iran have learned to make a similar product called doshab. In the United States they make many analogues of balsamic with coconut, figs, tangerines, black currants.

In addition to vinegar, balsamic glaze is also produced. She looks like a cream. And they get it by evaporating balsamic vinegar. Then add a thickener and spices.

Consumer Reviews

Many grateful readers leave positive reviews about balsamic vinegar. Consumers like that it lacks fat, it is safe to use as a seasoning. Balsamic contains a small amount of calories. It should be noted that earlier it was possible to order this seasoning only on the Internet. Today it is already on sale. Many people want to put a peculiar Italian accent in their dishes, make a drop of this sunny country on their table.

Consumers like that it is not just natural vinegar, but also a pleasant taste. It is not at all like a regular product. Today, many people prefer various vegetable salads in their diet. This seasoning will fill them not only with bright taste, but also with aroma.

When buying balsamic, consumers are advised to pay attention to the production date. Old vinegar tastes better. You can buy a young seasoning and keep the bottle closed for several more years. Just do not open the bottle beforehand; let it be hermetically sealed. Such a closed product can be stored forever. Store open vinegar in a cool and dark place, in a cabinet, for example. At a temperature of +6 to +20 ° C, it will not deteriorate for about a year.

Real gourmets have already tasted several varieties of balsamic. They claim to have a thicker and thinner sauce. Some people like truffles, caramel. A good test for him would be to use with ice cream. Consumers say this vinegar is expensive, but it's worth it.

Homemade recipe

The cost of the original balsamic vinegar ranges from € 40 to € 70, depending on the exposure. If it is not possible to purchase a real product, do not replace it with a budget industrial analogue. It is better to cook a great seasoning yourself - it will cost much cheaper, while not harming our health.


  1. Mashed cherries manually or with a blender.
  2. Remove the zest from the lemon and squeeze the juice.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring the mass to a boil and evaporate for 20 minutes over low heat.
  4. The resulting vinegar is cooled, poured into a glass dish, closed and sent to the refrigerator for 2 - 3 days, insist.
  5. Next, the essence must be filtered through several layers of gauze and stored in a pre-sterilized glass bottle at low temperatures.

What can replace balsamic vinegar in dishes

It is difficult to find an alternative to natural balsamic, but it is possible. Apple cider vinegar infused with herbs has already been mentioned above, which will give the desired shade to our dishes. It is prepared easily, from affordable, inexpensive products.

Another option is flavored wine vinegar. Spices for him are selected individually, but it is recommended to include tarragon and mint in the composition. On a glass of vinegar you need to take about 50 g of dry spices.

As a basis for a balsamic substitute, white sherry is also suitable. Seasoning from it is prepared as follows: