Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette by Rockin Robin
How to Make Balsamic Vinegar
Making balsamic vinaigrette is super easy and only takes 4 ingredients and a jar suitable for shaking to complete the process. If you're trying to make balsamic vinegar, be aware that the aging process takes at least 12 years, and many times even longer. Creating balsamic vinegar entails crushing grapes, boiling the juice, and shifting the juice from barrel to barrel for many years until the flavor is just right.
0.75 c (180 ml) extra virgin olive oil
0.25 c (59 ml) balsamic vinegar
Whole grain mustard (optional)
Garlic cloves (optional)
Makes roughly 1 c (240 ml)
Making a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Combine 0.75 c (180 ml) of extra virgin olive oil with 0.25 c (59 ml) of balsamic vinegar.It’s easiest to pour these measurements directly into a jar with a sealable lid. If you don’t have a sealable jar, pour the olive oil and balsamic vinegar into a small bowl.
- The jar or similar container will be shaken, making it important that the seal is tight and secure.
- If you’re using a bowl, you’ll be whisking the ingredients together instead of shaking them.
Sprinkle 0.25 tsp (1.2 ml) each of salt and pepper into the liquid.If you’d rather not measure out the seasoning exactly, just add a pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. It’s best to add smaller amounts of salt and pepper at a time, as you can always add more if desired.
Add extra flavor to the dressing by adding optional ingredients.Some people like adding 1 tsp (4.9 ml) of whole grain mustard to the dressing, while others also like adding fresh minced garlic or shallots. If you like the taste of any of these ingredients, add a small amount at a time before tasting the dressing.
- Adding mustard helps the vinegar and oil combine more easily.
Attach the lid securely and shake the jar to combine the ingredients.Screw the lid onto the jar so that liquid won’t leak through. Shake the jar for 10-15 seconds, helping the ingredients mix together thoroughly. Once the dressing is shaken, it’s ready to be tasted.
- If you poured the ingredients into a bowl, use a whisk to stir everything together thoroughly.
Play around with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar proportions.The most common ratio is 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar. However, some people like more vinegar in their dressing, while others might want less vinegar. Test the balsamic vinaigrette once it’s been shaken to decide whether you’d like to add any additional ingredients to create the best flavor.
- Consider dipping a piece of lettuce in the dressing to taste it.
Keep the dressing in the fridge for several weeks.If you made the vinaigrette with just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper, it’s not necessary to keep it in the fridge. However, once you add fresh ingredients it’s best to keep the dressing in the refrigerator to be able to use it for several weeks.
- Keep the jar sealed when it’s stored on the counter or in the fridge.
- If you created the vinaigrette in a bowl, transfer it to a sealable container or place a cloth, foil, or plastic wrap over the bowl.
Creating Balsamic Vinegar
Squeeze fresh grapes to use the juice.Lambrusco or Trebbiano grapes are typically the best type for making balsamic vinegar. Crush the grapes using whatever method you’d like, such as placing them in a bowl and mashing them with a kitchen utensil. Place the squeezed grapes and liquid in a strainer to remove any seeds, pulp, or skin so that you’re left with pure grape juice.
- Keep in mind that this is usually done with many pounds of grapes using a machine that crushes the grapes and eliminates the pulpy parts when balsamic vinegar is made from companies.
- The grape juice resulting from the grapes being crushed is called “must.”
Cook the grape juice for 2-3 days until it’s thick and syrupy.Cook the grape juice until the liquid is reduced by a third or a half, causing it to thicken. Cook the juice slowly, bringing it just under a boil. When it’s done, it will have a nice caramel color.
- Cooking the grapes is important because it kills off bacteria.
- Avoid exceeding 195 °F (91 °C) while it’s boiling.
- Use something such as a large kettle or pot to cook the juice.
Store the grape juice in wooden barrels for at least 12 years.While many balsamic vinegar producers let their vinegar age for 25-50 years, the minimum is 12 years. Pour all of the juice into a wooden barrel (or more, if needed) so the juice turns into acetic acid. Place a cloth on top of the hole in the barrel to help with evaporation.
- The barrels don’t need to stay in an area with a regulated temperature—an attic or similar room is ideal as the temperature fluctuations actually help the vinegar progress.
- These wooden barrels are called “batteria.”
Transfer the juice to smaller barrels made of different woods as it evaporates.Each year that the juice sits in the barrel, it will lose roughly 10% of its volume. It’s important to move the liquid into smaller barrels each time this happens. Having barrels made of different types of wood, such as cherry, oak, and juniper, gives the liquid added taste each time it’s transferred.
- For example, you might have 6 barrels of varying sizes, with each one made of a different wood, such as cherry, ash, acacia, chestnut, juniper, and oak.
- Moving the liquid to a new barrel each time 10% of it evaporates will give it a unique flavor.
Continue transferring the liquid until you’re satisfied with its taste.Once the balsamic vinegar has reached the 12 year mark, it’s up to you as to when you decide it’s ready to be used. Taste the balsamic vinegar to see if the consistency, density, and flavor is ideal, and continue transferring it from larger barrel to smaller barrel if it isn’t done yet.
- Mass producers of balsamic vinegar must have their vinegar tested by professionals once they believe it’s done before it can be bottled and sold.
QuestionThe article says to boil the juice but not to exceed 195 degrees. If I boil it, it will go over 210 degrees. Should I boil it or not?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGenerally, the more viscous the liquid, the lower its boiling point. As the article states that the "mosto" that is formed by this process ends up being a syrupy liquid, it is very possible that its boiling point is below 195 degrees. Either way, it says the mosto will not generate vinegar if you exceed 195 degrees, so don't.Thanks!
QuestionIs there any caramelized sugar in balsamic vinegar?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but not cane sugar. The sugar comes from the grapes used in the process; the grape juice is reduced to a syrup, which is semi-caramelized. It does not brown into a full caramel. You may also be tasting the flavors added by the wood casks the vinegar sits in as it ages.Thanks!
QuestionStep number 9 says to "ferment the mosto". How long does it take to ferment?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTypically when fermenting wine, which is what this starts out as, you ferment it until it no longer gives off carbon dioxide which means all the fermentable sugars have been assimilated into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The next step is to take the wine and make it into vinegar, this is where wine stops being wine and becomes vinegar. For further study I would suggest looking into the different types of fermenting i.e. anaerobic, aerobic, etc. You will get a broader sense of how this all works.Thanks!
How many pounds of grapes to barrels totalling roughly 20 Liters?
How many barrels are needed to age it 25 years?
When you say the must ferments does this mean that the sugar will transfer to alcohol? How do we know that the fermentation has finished?
Where is the best place to buy barrels? Also, what is the portion of vinegar/sugar/water used to clean the barrels?
Things You'll Need
Making the Vinaigrette
Jar with lid
Bowl and whisk (optional)
Foil or plastic wrap (optional)
Creating Balsamic Vinegar
Barrels of varying sizes
Kitchen utensil for mashing grapes
Sources and Citations
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Video: "How Do They Do It" - Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
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