What is balsamic vinegar and what it is made from, what benefits and harms it has and how it differs from other vinegars.

Types of Balsamic Vinegar

History of appearance and interesting facts

Balsamic vinegar (Aceto balsamico) has been known to the world for about a thousand years. More precisely, the first mention of it dates back to 1046. It was presented to Henry II at one of the noble receptions and was considered a truly royal gift.

After all, not only its high price, but also its excellent taste, which ordinary people could not afford, made it a “jewel”.

Of course, it has been done before. In ancient Rome they were always engaged in grapes and their derivatives. After all, this is a great place to grow it.

They made juice, wine and of course vinegar using their own technologies. This vast experience was passed on to the producers of balsamic vinegar. Which prepare it exactly the way we love it.

Even in our time, it is allowed to be cooked only in two provinces of Italy, Modena and Emilia-Romagna. After which it is named.

Of course, it is also made in Greece and other countries. Trying to follow the Italian technology. But nevertheless, its cost is much less.

Composition and calorie content

The main component of balsamic vinegar is grape juice. On one condition, that it contains enough sugar and is collected on time. This is exactly what balsamic vinegar is made from.

The grape variety mainly used is Trebbiano. This is a white grape variety used in winemaking. Which, by the way, ranks second in terms of grape production in the world.

It also contains a large number of useful elements and substances:

  • pectins,
  • organic acids,
  • manganese,
  • copper,
  • zinc,
  • iron,
  • phosphorus,
  • potassium,
  • sodium,
  • magnesium,
  • calcium.

As for BJU, its nutritional value is as follows:

  • Balsamic contains 0.5 g of protein,
  • fat 0 gr., 
  • carbohydrates 17 grams.

The calorie content of balsamic vinegar per 100 grams is 88 kcal. The strength reaches 6 percent.

Types of Balsamic Vinegar

There are two main manufacturers, these are:

  • уксус из Модены (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena);
  • уксус из Эмилия-Романья (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Reggio Emilia).

These vinegars are made according to all the rules and technologies. They contain only grape must and “time”. After all, such vinegar is aged in special wooden barrels for at least 12 years.

This vinegar is already considered ready-made, but to fully mature it is aged for up to 25 years. Constantly pouring from large barrels into smaller ones, after airing out some of the vinegar.

Vinegar aged for 12 years is sealed with a cream-colored lid. And the twenty-five-year-old gets gold, this is the marking of vinegar from Modena.

In the province of Emilie-Romagna there is a gradation into three types. Balsamic Vinegar 12 Years old comes with a red cap. The 18-year-old is silver, and the oldest 25-year-old is finished with gold. The price of such vinegar can reach up to $500 per 100 ml.

Nowadays, balsamic is made more widely and cheaper. Various additives, dyes, antioxidants, etc. began to be added to it. This is not to say that they are all of poor quality, but this is not the same.

An experienced vinegar sommelier (and there are such people!) will immediately distinguish such a product from the real thing!

Taste and smell

Balsamic vinegar tastes sweet and sour, like any vinegar. But of course, it leaves a much more “noble” aftertaste than regular or even apple.

Its aroma is filled with grapes, with subtle, barely perceptible fruity notes. It doesn’t hit the nose as sharply as the canteen we’re used to. But still, it is quite piquant and immediately after opening the bottle you should not inhale deeply. Let him breathe a little.

Benefits and harms

The beneficial properties of balsamic vinegar for the human body are very significant. Due to its low calorie content, it can be consumed on a diet or during PN.

This is thanks to the low glycemic index of vinegar (GI 25-35). But it still contains sugar and you need to be careful with the amount.

In addition, like any seasoning, it helps increase appetite and improve digestion. But in no way can  dullappetite, this can affect your diet when losing weight.

Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties help disinfect and heal wounds. They even tried to treat the plague and used it to increase potency.

This is the answer to the question why it is called balsamic. From the word balm – a herbal tincture used for healing properties.

That’s not all the benefits of balsamic vinegar. In addition to its benefits in the processes of the gastrointestinal tract, it is also useful for the male body.

It raises testosterone levels and reduces the possibility of developing cancer cells. It also has a beneficial effect on hormonal levels.

As for women, it has the same beneficial effect on their body. In addition, it normalizes metabolism.

But during pregnancy you need to be more careful. It is not prohibited, but if you have high acidity, you should not use it. This may add discomfort or cause heartburn.

It is worth limiting its use during breastfeeding. After all, it can irritate the mucous membrane of the digestive tract and increase acidity. And it can affect the taste and smell of milk.

Of course, all this is individual and requires consultation with a doctor, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The same applies to the use of balsamic vinegar for gastritis and stomach ulcers. Especially with diseases of the first degree.

It is also better to exclude balsamic vinegar for type 2 diabetes and replace it with a less sweet one.

What is the difference between balsamic vinegar and balsamic sauce and other vinegars?

Let’s look at the main differences between balsamic and its brothers and main “competitor” –balsamic sauce.

From balsamic sauce

Balsamic sauce

Balsamic cream or sauce is essentially a thicker vinegar, because it is made from it. The color and consistency are rich and thick.

Its taste is much more concentrated due to the reduction in the volume of vinegar when evaporating and adding sugar. Accordingly, sweeter and more viscous.

Balsamic cream is not subjected to heat treatment during cooking. It is more suitable for giving a dish a more refined taste. Be it fish, meat, bread or even ice cream.

Sometimes they simply decorate a dish, making it more restaurant-like and, of course, more tasty when served.

From a regular cafeteria

Table vinegar

Ordinary synthetic or food vinegar is made from the processing of oil or gas products. Sometimes from sawdust processing. Of course, this process is much more complicated, but nevertheless it is far from natural.

And even more so, it differs from balsamic in taste and smell. Not to mention the method of production and usefulness. Of course, it differs from the usual 9 percent both in color and strength.

From wine


Wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar are made from grapes. Only when making balsamic, do they try to protect grape juice from yeast fungi as quickly as possible. Which convert the sugar contained in the juice into alcohol.

Wine, on the contrary, is made from wine with the addition of acetic bacteria, this is the main difference. There are red and white vinegars. Accordingly, white vinegar is made from white wine, and red vinegar from red.

They are more liquid in consistency and the red is slightly lighter than balsamic. They are also less sweet in taste, but still very tasty.

Wine production takes much less time than balsamic. Which naturally affects the price, with red wine being more expensive than white.

From apple

Apple vinegar

The difference between balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar is the color and, of course, the taste. The color is more transparent from yellow to pinkish. The taste is more sour with a taste of fermented apples, 7% ABV. But the naturalness and principle of preparation are very similar.

For its production, juice is also used, only apple juice along with pulp (pulp and apple peel are used). Then, from the fermented raw materials, with the help of bacteria, alcohol is converted into vinegar.

Of course, due to the availability of apples, the price difference is very large. Apple is much cheaper than balsamic.

How to make balsamic vinegar at home

Preparing balsamic vinegar is a long process and difficult to do at home. But there are adapted recipes for making balsamic vinegar.

Homemade recipe close to the original

Let’s say right away that this recipe is not quick and will take more than a year. And it will take more than three years for balsamic to taste authentic. Therefore, the ingredients were selected for a 3-liter jar.

Unlike subsequent recipes, this balsamic vinegar does not initially contain vinegar. It just becomes vinegar itself, over time.


  • grapes – 6 kg;
  • fresh mint – 1 bunch;
  • tarragon – 1 tbsp. L.; 
  • dried basil – 1 tbsp. l.; 
  • cloves – 6 cloves; 
  • star anise – 4 pcs.;
  • oak chips – 0.5 cups.

Cooking process:

  1. Crush the grapes thoroughly, including seeds and skins.
  2. Set aside 800 ml. the resulting wort in a jar and leave to ferment for 3 weeks (cover with gauze and loosely cover with a lid)
  3. Next, we prepare bekmes from our grapes, that is, we begin to boil the grapes with all our spices.
  4. To do this, put everything on fire, slightly above medium, and after boiling, turn it down and simmer everything on low, stirring occasionally.
  5. You need to evaporate about a third of the volume, then rub everything through a sieve or drain through a colander. But then squeeze out the remaining cake through cheesecloth.
  6. We put it on the fire again and after boiling, boil it by another third. Do not allow it to boil and stir all the time.
  7. Then cool and put in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and wait until the wort ferments.
  8. When the time has come, take the bekmes out of the refrigerator and wait until it reaches room temperature.
  9. Add fermented wort to it through cheesecloth.
  10. Pour boiled wood chips and future vinegar into the jar through cheesecloth.
  11. Cover with gauze and press with a nylon lid with holes made in it and leave for at least a year.

Wood chips can be replaced with oak blocks, and ideally the vinegar should be kept in an oak barrel. It is better to store in a cool, dark place.

After a year, you can pour off some of the vinegar for use, and you can also add new bekmes. If you add fresh bekmes, then pour no more than a quarter of the vinegar. After three months, you can make another selection of balsamic.

It is better to do this once a year, also remembering to periodically inspect the jar for mold. You can also carefully pour the vinegar once a year to rid it of sediment.

Pour into a container for consumption (which should be made of glass) through gauze. Don’t pour too much, it’s better to let it infuse in a jar. And the longer the better!

From wine vinegar and basil

In this recipe, grapes and wine vinegar, combined with herbs, give us the taste of balsamic. And this recipe will take much less time.

We will need:

  • Grapes – 10 kg.
  • Purple basil – 0.5 kg.
  • Mint – 100 g.
  • Tarragon – 100 gr.
  • Honey – 200 ml.
  • Sugar – 1.3 kg.
  • Wine 6% vinegar – 0.5 l.

How to do:

  1. We wash and remove the grapes from the branches, transfer them to a saucepan and mash them into a puree.
  2. Place on the fire and bring to a boil, then skim off the foam and reduce by half over low heat, stirring.
  3. After boiling (this can take up to five hours), leave to cool overnight.
  4. Then put it on the fire, and at this time chop the herbs and add them to the puree, bring to a boil.
  5. Cook for about an hour and then leave covered for a day.
  6. Then heat it slightly, rub it through a sieve and pour it into an enamel pan through cheesecloth.
  7. Place on the fire and add vinegar, sugar and honey, stir until the sugar dissolves.
  8. Cool and pour into containers.

It is better to take white sweet grapes. Don’t add all the sugar at once, the sweetness of the grapes may be enough and keep in mind that honey will also be added.

In the future, you can add this vinegar instead of wine vinegar. Or do it in half, mixing both vinegars to get new flavors.

Cherry Balsamic Vinegar

This vinegar has interesting cherry notes and is prepared even faster than the previous one. But it needs to brew for 2 days in the refrigerator.


  • Cherry – 2 cups
  • Cinnamon – 1 tsp.
  • Fresh rosemary – 1 sprig
  • Sugar – 4 tbsp. l.  
  • Grape or apple cider vinegar – 0.5 l.

How to cook:

  1. Pour the cherries, pits and sugar into a saucepan in which we will cook and mash them with our hands.
  2. Add vinegar, cinnamon and a sprig of rosemary, put on fire and bring to a boil.
  3. After boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Then cool and put in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
  5. Then we rub it through a sieve and pour it into glass bottles and the cherry vinegar is ready!

Of course, if you really want it, then you don’t have to wait 2 days, but just let it cool. But infused vinegar will be even more aromatic. It will be even better if you boil it for several hours.

In the recipe for this homemade balsamic, it is quite possible to use frozen cherries. You can also add lemon zest and honey. Experiment, friends!

Recipe with basil

This option is the most cost-effective and simple, requiring few actions but a lot of time.


  • Purple basil – 2 bunches.
  • Apple vinegar – 250 ml
  • Sugar – 2 tbsp. l.


  1. Separate the basil leaves from the stems, wash and dry with a paper towel.
  2. While they are drying, add sugar to vinegar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Place the leaves in a bottle and fill with vinegar, leaving for at least two weeks.

The result is vinegar with a beautiful color and bright taste. You can add fresh rosemary to it. You can use 9% vinegar, the main thing is that it is natural. And if you keep it for about a month, it will taste even better!

Using the same principle, you can prepare raspberry or other berry vinegars. Of course, these are no longer real balsamics, but thanks to the fruity notes they are very similar and no less tasty.

Use in cooking

Caprese salad

Now let’s figure out where to add and what to use balsamic vinegar for. The famous caprese salad cannot be prepared without it.

  • of course as salad dressing;
  • to any meat, poultry and even fish and seafood;
  • for fresh and grilled vegetables;
  • they pour it over sandwiches and bruschetta;
  • used in marinades for meat and onions;
  • An amazing balsamic sauce is made from it.
  • added to baked goods and desserts.

It’s impossible to list all its uses, because it goes with almost everything.

In cosmetology and medicine

The beneficial substances contained in vinegar make it useful not only for cooking, but also for home cosmetology.

  • it is used to cleanse the skin by making a compress;
  • rinse hair;
  • mix with hand cream.

As we have already written, traditional medicine also appreciated its antiseptic qualities.

  • they disinfect wounds;
  • gargle for colds;
  • used for weight loss.

This widespread use has made it very popular all over the world.

How to distinguish from fake and choose the real one

Of course, due to such demand, balsamic vinegar is often counterfeited. But it is possible to distinguish counterfeit goods. The original vinegar contains only grape must.

No water, thickeners or dyes are allowed. And of course, the manufacturer must only be from Modena. Also, the inscription Tradizionale is present on every label of real vinegar.

All these criteria, and also a fairly high price, will help you choose the right balsamic vinegar.

Where to buy and how to store

Nowadays, buying balsamic is not a problem. It is available in any large supermarket and online stores. But once you buy it, store it correctly.

The refrigerator door or dark, cool pantry is just the thing! Do not expose the vinegar to heat or direct sunlight. Of course, store only in glass containers, preferably in the original ones.

Close the bottle tightly to prevent the vinegar from escaping. This will also prevent unnecessary substances from getting into it.

What to replace

Of course, the taste of balsamic vinegar cannot be completely replaced. But it is possible to get more or less closer.

  • mix grape vinegar with honey or jam, but let it brew;
  • using the same principle, you can replace it with red wine or rice;
  • cherry, from raspberries, strawberries and other fruits are also similar;
  • vinaigrette sauce is close in taste to the original;

This is the best way to replace the original balsamic vinegar. And it won’t affect the taste much, but a pro will certainly notice the substitution.

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