Balsamic vinegar is a traditional Italian vinegar made from white grapes. When the vinegar is prepared, the grapes are boiled to approximately 30% of their original volume to create a concentrate. Then, the concentrate is fermented in a slow-aging process that further enhances the flavors. If the balsamic vinegar is the traditional aceto balsamico tradizionale, it is aged for a minimum of 12 years!! This tradizionale style is incredibly expensive, costing between $150 and $400 for 100mL, so the balsamic vinegar that you would find in stores or online in the U.S. is generally commercial grade or condimento style, which is aged for a shorter amount of time. A product to avoid is balsamic vinegar of Modena, because it is an imitation product! This vinegar, which is actually the most common in the U.S., is often adulterated with caramel coloring and thickeners like guar gum, so it’s best to opt for a high quality brand that is definitely pure, aged balsamic vinegar!
You just can’t beat the rich flavor of balsamic vinegar. I love including it as a simple drizzle on salad (like my Citrus, Fig, and Walnut Salad or Strawberry-Basil Salad with Toasted Pecans) or to add some of that unique flavor to dish. Nutritionally, balsamic vinegar is mostly carbohydrate (about 3g per tablespoon) with some trace minerals, so it is best-used in condiment qualities.
As with any Paleo condiment, it’s so important to opt for a high-quality product from a brand you trust! I like to use Kasandrinos Ultra Premium Balsamic Vinegar.