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Balsamic reduction

Hi! I never seem to get mine as tasty as the reductions I have out. What am I doing wrong? Is there a certain brand thats better than others? Do you use high or med heat to reduce the vinegar? Anyone have a tried and true recipe out there? I am looking for something to serve with meat. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Just saw Lidia Bastianich do a couple of cloves, a sprig of rosemary and a couple of tablespoons of honey to a bottle of balsamic. I never have made any of her recipes to the letter, so I have no idea how they turn out.

    We often do just balsalmic though and it is tastey, sometimes add a bit of sweetener if it needs it for the application.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jsaimd

      I just saw that episode too. Was there one more spice in there?

    2. here is what I do:
      1/4 cup ruby port
      1 cup balsamic vinegar (not high end, just regular)
      reduce by gently simmering till it is about 1/2 cup or so; store in a sqeeze bottle- I keep it in the frig, but it gets quite thick, so I have to let it come to room temp before using.

      1. Thanks, I will try these.

        1. Do you add anything? I usually add brown sugar as needed and add some butter after it is reduced and off the heat.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Megiac

            No, but maybe thats what I am doing wrong. There seems to be a hint of a bitter after taste when I make it so I was curious what I was doing wrong. Is it possible to cook it ovr too high of heat?

          2. I usually add sugar too, and reduc until it is the right consistancy

            1. I never add sugar or anything else. I start with a bottle of decent balsamic (no caramel coloring or other additives). Put it in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, turn heat to low and reduce until slightly syrupy. High heat will definitely give it a scorched taste. When it cools it will thicken, so don't over-reduce. Once cooled, put it in a squeeze bottle and it will keep a long time. (If you add garlic or herbs, it won't keep as long.)

              1. A friend of mine once asked a chef how he got his reduction so nice and sweet/tart/syrupy and the chef revealed that he often added a little coca cola...

                1. I read through the posts here on balsamic reductions, and being that I try to avoid extra sugar/ sweeteners if possible, as well as avoiding non-natural food products... I wanted a simple yet complex flavor for a salad dressing on Thanksgiving.

                  I opted to try my balsamic reduction with just vinegar and no added ingredients. I used a medium quality balsamic (the best one from Trader Joes) and I used a double boiler, since scorching seems to be an issue. I did a 50% reduction, and it turned out fabulous. Everyone loved it. There was no bitter flavor, and it was wonderfully sweet/ tart. I may go for a thicker reduction, as I wasn't sure how much it thickened up after cooling. For newbies out there, when you're pouring off your reduction, turn the pan away from your eyes, as the vapors are quite strong (burns the eye). (No, I wasn't harmed, I was just surprised at first how strong they were.)

                  Thanks for the great question and all the posts.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Mistress Ivy

                    what i do iz reduce it by 3/4, then let cool. It will be thick to where u like it (like a syrup) and still sweet. Nice trick wit da double boilerz. I never thought of dat. I use a thick/heavy bottom stainless steel sauce pot and bring da vinegar (only vinegar) to a gentle simmer over low heat.

                    1. re: Mistress Ivy

                      Did you use the twelve year old balsamic from Trader Joes, The little square bottle?

                    2. I just made a reduction with a good bottle of balsamic (8.5 oz), a few teaspoons of brown sugar, a couple pats of butter, a a dusting of fresh thyme.

                      What came out on the other end, in my opinion was way too sweet and heavy.

                      There was a wonderful clear tart essence coming off the reducing balsamic before I put in the butter and sugar and in my opinion these ingredients basically ruined it.

                      Just one foodie's opinion.

                      Next time I make it, I'll use just the balsamic (and perhaps a few herbs) as a few others suggested.

                      1. Thanks all, there are some pretty clever thoughts/ideas here. I realize it goes without saying, but for what it's worth; make sure to use a stainless steel, or at least enameled cast iron pan, the key is "nonreactive." Avoid uncoated iron or aluminum for this endeavor.

                        1. There iz a trick to making a balsamic reduction. Itz not like the otherz. This reduction, if you reduced it too fast or for too long u will burn it. It will be bitter. If u dont reduce it enough, it will have a tang/tart to it and will be not thick enough. You have to reduce it by 3/4 of the way. Yes 3/4, meaning 1 cup vinegar makes 3/4 cup reduction. By doing this, the reduction picks up a sweetness and become like a syrup. This sweetness ony happens when u reduce the liquid slowy. And use a thick bottom heavy metal pot (prefer stainless steel, no aluminun). Where i work at, we use this reduction as a sauce in some dishes. What I do is at a low temp bring to vinegar to a soft boil/ gentle simmer. Then reduce the liquid by 3/4. Take off fire and let cool.

                          1. I only use mid-range quality balsamic and a pat of butter at the end. Med-Low heat-let it go until it's syrup. It takes a while... I've bought the Gia Russa brand before, but it's $$, and not that amazing, so I just make my own.