Complex in flavor, sweet, and easy to use in many different dishes, reducing balsamic vinegar is a very easy method that gives a punch of flavor. It mimics the more expensive balsamic vinegars but costs a fraction of the price!
What is balsamic vinegar reduction?
It’s just what it sounds like – it’s balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a thicker, fuller flavor. I find that is has less acidic bite and a whole lot more complexity to its flavor. Making a balsamic reduction glaze is as simple as adding a little sugar or honey to it before it simmers down.
Making healthy food flavorful
Too often people associate healthy (or nourishing) eating habits with lack of flavor. There are two reasons for this. The first being that people used to highly processed foods need to give their taste buds time to adjust to a more natural diet. The second reason being under-flavoring food. Our food should be well salted (with a good, unrefined salt), spiced, herbed, it should use onions (such as this very flavorful caramelized onion recipe) and garlic, and mustard and the many other beautiful and flavor foods out there.
If one of your resolutions is to eating healthier food this year, make sure that you include a lot of flavorful and delicious options in your diet. Once you find how delicious and satisfying a nourishing diet is, you just may find it hard to go back to an unhealthy one.
What type of vinegar to use to make balsamic reduction
As mentioned above, this simple method mimics the flavor of the more expensive balsamic vinegars, but for much cheaper. If you spend the money on an expensive balsamic vinegar, I recommend you enjoy it as is (perhaps in a balsamic dressing such as the one in this sample from my salad cookbook). I recommend that you use any sort of inexpensive organic balsamic vinegar. One that I enjoy using is Bionatuae organic balsamic vinegar. It’s inexpensive but tastes great.
This brand, and other options, are available at Vitacost (an affiliate) – I buy natural body products and certain supplements from them, so it’s easy to add on some of their grocery products, which can be much cheaper. Shipping is free with order over $49. There are some options at Amazon (also an affiliate), but right now it looks like the added shipping of the organic brands make it a more expensive choice.
How to use balsamic reduction and vinegar
- Drizzle balsamic reduction over sliced avocados with a sprinkle of unrefined salt and enjoy as a tasty snack.
- Or drizzle it over juicy, summer kissed tomatoes, perhaps with basil, unrefined salt, and mozzarella cheese for a flavorful mini-meal or appetizer.
- Use balsamic vinegar to make a healthy and tasty, better-than-store-bought salad dressing. It’s my seven year old’s favorite way to enjoy green salads. (Download this sample from my salad cookbook for our favorite balsamic dressing recipe).
- Use either the balsamic vinegar or the reduction to liven-up bowls of herbed beans. Many bean soups are perfectly suited for the tanginess of vinegar.
- Use balsamic vinegar to bright the flavor or tomato based sauces (just a little will do it)!
- Make a sweet reduction (perhaps with some cinnamon and cloves) and serve it with ice cream or strawberries.
- Drizzle balsamic reduction over melons wrapped in prosciutto, peaches, figs and whatever other fruit catches your fancy.
- Drizzle balsamic reduction over steamed or roasted vegetables.
- Use balsamic reduction to flavor beef, chicken or fish.
- 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
- Optional: 1-4 tablespoons unrefined sweetener of choice (such as coconut sugar, maple syrup or honey), a cinnamon stick and/or a couple cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, part of an orange rind
- In a medium sized saucepan that is nonreactive, add the balsamic vinegar and any flavoring agents you'd like (they are completely optional, but add their own flavorful dimensions. Don't add them all! Just one or two will be enough).
- Turn kitchen fan on high as vinegar is going to be floating into the air!
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and then turn down heat to keep at a low simmer. It will take about 10-15 minutes to thicken and reduce. Keep a careful eye near the end as you don't want to burn it. When it coats a spoon, it will be thick enough. You can thicken it slightly, or make it as thick as molasses. You can reduce anywhere from ⅓ to ¾'s of the vinegar (but not more, unless you want to really risk burning it)! When reduced more, it will thicken up considerably once cooled. You can always gently reheat (and add a little water, as needed).