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Balsamic Vinaigrette that doesn't have to be thrown away

We love balsamic vinaigrette when we eat out.
Everytime I make it at home, it does not have the same sweetness and is very overpowering.
I buy medium quality, imported.
We just had the mozzarella and tomato salad at Panera yesterday and the dressing was good.

What is the problem? I am tired of throwing it away.
Anyone have a good recipe; I am hoping to not have to add sugar.
Should I be adding honey for sweetness and viscosity?

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  1. How do you make yours? So far, you've only written that you use medium grade vinegar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: gordeaux

      Oops.
      EVOO, balsamic salt and pepper.
      Have tried adding some sugar - NO, adding mustard (dijon and regular) - NO

      Other dressings I have had at very good restos, don't taste commercial with those dried herbs floating around. I really want to limit the fermented smell and strong, pungent taste.

    2. Use a combination of balsamic and red wine vinegars to cut the overpowering flavor of the balsamic. I think the vinaigrettes one gets in restaurants often have a bit of sugar in them, so you might want to try that, or honey instead.

      I find that EVOO whisked into balsamic vinegar makes a very thick dressing (but the emulsion doesn't last - the oil will eventually separate out so you just need to whisk it again), but if yours isn't viscous enough whisk into the vinegar a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard. And as gordeaux points out, the quality of the balsamic will obviously affect the flavor of your dressing.

      1. When you eat out (especially at a chain like Panera), you're getting Kens or some similar pre-made dressing. Hard to duplicate at home, as I'm sure there's corn syrup and emulsifiers involved. If I was going to add sweetener, I'd probably add agave syrup, but it's not going to taste like a commercial dressing. If you like it that much, try Ken's Balsamic Vinaigrette, it's very popular in the restaurant community. Or look at their list of ingredients for clues.

        1 Reply
        1. re: coll

          Not to mention preservatives. Maybe u just have a preference for the commercial stuff. Not a crime, but know that there is definitely some form of sugar in it in addition to a bunch of other stuff you can't pronounce.

          Try the honey and some dijon mustard though. I add finely diced shallots too. Also, I use a submersible blender. 5 seconds and it's perfectly emulsified. If you don't have one, try your regular blender.

          Oh, and if it's overpowering, back off the vinegar a bit. Try a 1 part vinegar to 4 parts oil ratio.

        2. Ditto to the other replies about quantity and quality of vinegar. You give no ratios which will be the keys to the vinegar smell and taste. Quality varies GREATLY. And the sugar, sorry to say, will mellow out a lower quality balsamic vinegar. Your honey idea might work out fine, but, I think first, it sounds like you'll have to back off the balsamic vingegar amount you are using. I keep three or four grades of balsamic, and the good stuff, I drink straight up, and it's smooth as silk. The cheap stuff will make you make a funny face if you sip it, the good stuff will make you want more.

          Id START a vinaigrette this way:
          1/2 cup of evoo
          two tbs balsamic
          juice of 1/2 of a lemon
          garlic (whatever amt makes sense to you)
          fresh ground pepperv(whatever amt makes sense to you)
          A shallot
          dash of salt
          pinch of sugar - and really, just a pinch, maybe a tsp.
          Little splash of red wine vinegar.
          Blender.
          And THEN, season /re-blend it from there.

          1. To get a sweeter Balsamic, reduce it down to a light syrup. This is like aging it 20 years. There is a fine line between reduced and burned. Watch it like a hawk.

            I cool it and then add herbs and olive oil.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Janet

              Oddly for me, I REALLY like a balsamic reduction drizzled on pizza. I'm not a huge fan of adding sweetness to savory things, but something about this combo knocks my socks off!