Back to Basics: Balsamic Reduction
I know we’ve talked about the process for balsamic reduction before, but I thought it was worth its own post. Now that I’ve had a big bottle of it at home for a while, I find myself reaching for it nearly every day — to drizzle on fruit, rub on roasts, or glaze vegetables.
The fact is, you aren’t going to use your best balsamic for everything. The really good balsamic vinegars have that spoon-coating thickness and deep richness from years of aging and slow evaporation in successively smaller barrels, and come with a price tag that matches the love and care put into each tiny bottle. It’s absolutely worth having a bottle of the good stuff around for special occasions, but it’s nice to have a thickened everyday balsamic for, well, everyday uses.
- Start with a good amount of decent-quality balsamic vinegar. I usually do at least two cups at a time.
- Pour the balsamic into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar or honey if desired.
- Bring the vinegar to a boil. Adjust the heat so it stays at a strong simmer and reduce until the volume of the balsamic is reduced to 1/2 to 1/4 of the original volume, depending on your purpose. Remember that it will thicken a bit more as it cools.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Dress caprese salads and other tomato dishes.
- Mix into a stick rub for meats.
- Use straight in a strong vinaigrette.
- Mix with an equal amount of water whenever a recipe calls for regular balsamic vinegar.
- Mix into marscapone cheese and layer with cakes and fruit for an unexpected parfait.
- Add a dash to soup to brighten the flavor.
- Grill some hearty greens like kale, endive, or radicchio and drizzle with reduction for a hearty, flavorful vegetarian side.
- Mix into braising liquids for any vegetable or meat.
- Coat root vegetables in a good glug before roasting with herbs and olive oil.
- Serve with cheese and charcuterie plates.
- Drizzle over fresh strawberries or other fruits.