Recipe: Balsamic Syrup

Somewhere in Italy, a foodie is cringing at the very thought of what I’m writing.  Sorry.   I’ve had the expensive aged balsamic vinegars from Italy.  The stuff that costs more than the average steak dinner.  It was delicious and worth every dollar we paid for it..  I still have the bottle.  Every year or so, I try getting one last drop of yummy balsamic vinegar out of the bottle in a vain attempt to re-live the experience.  One day, I’ll buy another bottle of the stuff.  Until then, I am content with this more budget-friendly option.

I think it may be more palletable (to a food snob) to call this a balsamic reduction.  But honestly, it’s a syrup.  Use this drizzled on all your summer vegetables with a touch of olive oil and some sea salt.  Use it on grilled fruit.  Use it in small quantities on anything you can imagine putting vinegar, steak sauce, or honey on.  If you aren’t sure, just put a drop on a single spoonful of what you are eating.

  • Go buy an el-cheapo bottle of balsamic vinegar from the grocery store.  I won’t pay more than $6 for one that is 16 to 18 ounces in size.   Pop out the little plastic thingy (if there is one) that restricts the flow when you pour.  Buy organic if you are inclined to.
  • Dump it in an oversized pot.  It’s going to splatter and make little dark sticky dots all over your stove if you put it a pot that’s too small.
  • Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in there. (I have’t tried it, but I suspect this would work with a natural sweetener)
  • Bring it to a boil and stir it to get all the sugar to dissolve.
  • Continue boiling on a medium high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  You want it to bubble constantly, and you’ll need to keep stirring occassionally.  When the bubbles start to “stack” and it starts to look thicker, you are done.
  • Let it cool.  Then pour it back into the same bottle you started with (use a funnel).  Cap it up and stick it in the pantry.  (I always use a sharpie and write on the bottle that is the syrup stuff).  Because you reduced the syrup (that’s the extended boiling time), it should fit back into the original bottle with a little room to spare.

I go through roughly one bottle of this a year.  It’s not necessarily an every day condiment.  But it can make an every day meal feel special.

If you need some inspiration, here’s a few ideas of how this stuff can bring some foodie love to your plate.

The top image is caprese salad – tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic.

This is the same thing, only with goat cheese.  Goat cheese and balsamic vinegar is yummy.

That’s ratatouille, made in layers like in the movie. It was so good that the plate ended up looking like this!
You can tell from the photos, this balsamic syrup is thick. It will make pretty designs on the plate just like you see them doing on television (or on the foodie blogs). When you get it warm, it will become more liquid and disperse more evenly.

Common sense stuff:

Don’t use this for canning or pickling.  I have no idea what the acidity of the vinegar would be, and the added sugar will mess with your pickles.  You don’t want stuff messing with your pickles.

When protected from light and heat, balsamic vinegar has a recommended shelf life of three years (per the website of several vendors) once it is opened.  This isn’t normal vinegar.  I would toss any that is left after a year.  Store it in a cool dark place with your other vinegars and oils.  If you are leaving vinegar out on the counter as decoration, that’s a different thing (although I can tell you how to make that stuff too!).

If it looks cloudy or smells wrong (like you could tell with vinegar) or if it makes a burping noise when you open the bottle, then it has gone bad.  Toss it.

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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