Balsamic vinegar is a versatile ingredient used in many dishes around the world, from salad dressings to marinades and sauces but not all balsamic vinegar is created equal. There are two types of balsamic vinegar: regular balsamic vinegar and caramelized balsamic vinegar. While they may look similar and share a few similarities the two types of balsamic vinegar are fundamentally different in taste, texture and preparation. Here are some of the differences between the best caramelised balsamic vinegar and regular balsamic vinegar.
Regular Balsamic Vinegar
Regular balsamic vinegar is made from Trebbiano grape juice that is boiled and aged for several years in wooden barrels. The aging process takes place in a series of barrels with each barrel made of different types of wood including oak, cherry and chestnut. The vinegar becomes thicker and sweeter as it ages developing a complex and rich flavor.
Unlike caramelized balsamic vinegar regular balsamic vinegar is not sweetened or thickened with added sugar or other ingredients. This means that it has a more natural taste and texture making it perfect for use in salad dressings, marinades and sauces.
Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar
Caramelized balsamic vinegar also known as “reduced balsamic vinegar” is made by cooking regular balsamic vinegar on low heat until it becomes thick and syrupy During the cooking process some of the water in the vinegar evaporates leaving behind a concentrated and sweet flavor.
Caramelized balsamic vinegar is typically sweeter and thicker than regular balsamic vinegar with a syrupy texture that coats food well, this makes it a popular ingredient in sweet dishes such as drizzled over ice cream or fresh fruit and it is also a popular choice for glazes as its sweetness can help balance out the flavors in meat and vegetables.
One thing to keep in mind when using the best caramelised balsamic vinegar is that it is often sweetened with added sugar, honey or other sweeteners, this means that it may not have the same natural taste as regular balsamic vinegar.
Which Should You Use?
When deciding whether to use regular or caramelized balsamic vinegar it really comes down to personal preference and the dish you are making. If you want a more natural and complex flavor then regular balsamic vinegar is the way to go while if you want a sweeter and thicker flavor then caramelized balsamic vinegar is the way to go.