• 3 cups balsamic vinegar

It’s pretty amazing how much zest and flavor a little balsamic vinegar can add to many things, especially when it’s in the form of a reduction. When I first started making it I always tried adding something to it to thicken (like corn starch), but after many failed batches I did some more reading. Turns out I just needed to let it reduce for a longer period of time and I didn’t need to add anything. The natural sugars in the vinegar have all the sweet you need.

I can’t take credit for this recipe since I definitely took the process from someone else, but I know that it’s something many of you could use. It made a GREAT addition to my caprese skewers that I’ve made for numerous parties. Note that your house WILL smell significantly like vinegar while you are cooking this, so I suggest you make it a few days in advance of when you plan to use it, especially if you are having people over. You can store it in an air tight container at room temperature for a few months, or in the fridge for up to a year.

BALSAMIC GLAZE
(Recipe from Oui Chef Journal)

Whatever amount of vinegar you decide to reduce, you will end up with about less than a quarter of the original amount in syrup.

DIRECTIONS
Place the vinegar in a heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.  Heat on low, so that you have a light simmer.  Reduce until syrupy, or to desired consistency, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

To test the consistency, I like to take a spoon and drizzle a few drops onto a cool plate, or better yet, take a dry pastry brush and brush some glaze onto the same plate.  I’ll then run my finger right over the cooled glaze to see how sticky it is.  If the consistency is too thick, add a little water to the glaze, stir it up, and test again.  If its too thin, return the pot to the heat.  Whatever happens, don’t let it burn…

Once cooled, it can be stored at room temperature.  If for some reason it is stored in the fridge where it will harden quite a bit, just place it in its container into a hot water bath or microwave for a few seconds, this will soften it up quickly.

TIP:  Cooking time will vary, according to the size of the pot.  Surface area makes a difference.

TIP #2:  If vinegar is reduced too far for your use without being burnt, a little water can be added to thin it out again.  The easiest way to do this is while the reduction is warmed over the stove.

If you store it in a squeeze bottle, you can use it to also decorate your plates like they do in restaurants.

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