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Balsamic reduction question.

Was reading the posts on CH about making it so looked it up. Is it better to simply reduce the balsamic by itself or do you add things to it? I saw a few recipes where they added things like catsup and soy sauce. I've had it in restaurants, but this will be my first time to try it. What is the best way, and how long does it take to reduce to a syrupy condition?

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  1. You question seems easy but the answer is hard. Various 'balsamic' vinegars just have different flavors - and these will intensify with reduction. You'll need to taste to see if it needs more acid (tomato) or salt (soy) - both of these ingredients have umami as well. Reduce by half and taste - then add the ingredient IF NEEDED. Restrain yourself from continually adjusting (opps too sweet - opps too tangy) since that will ultimately result in just 'yuck' - limit it to no more than two 'adjustments' if even needed. The aim is to have a tangy, sweet, deep flavored syrup.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alwayscooking

      Thank you. I get it, I think. Will try it tomorrow, will let you know!

    2. With wine and balsamic, just boil away until reduced to a syrup. Taste and add with caution only at the end.

      1. At times I've reduced various balsamics that I've bought at Costco or Trader Joe's. I usually do it in my little enameled cast iron pot and open a window, and I've never added anything. The main lesson I've learned is to not over-reduce. Remember that it'll be thicker when it cools. Says the woman who made balsamic candy (?) that wouldn't pour out of a bottle.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Vetter

          sadly, i think it is true that the difference between an "ok" and a "very good" balsamic increases when they're reduced.

        2. jfood reduces balsamic for tomato and mozzy as an app. Jfood's one word of advice is not not putthe old shnoot near the steam, it will knock your head back like a right hook from Joe Frazier.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jfood

            omg, that is too funny. I only laugh because jfood has done exactly what cc has.

          2. All points are good. I just let it reduce on it's own, but depending on what I am using it for I may use a few aromatics or some other flavors. It really depends. And different balsamics do have different flavors for sure.

            I do take juices all the time from roasts just a few pan dripping, add a small diced shallot and balsamic and reduce until fairly thick. Add a little fresh herbs and it makes an amazing thick sauce over the meat. But you can use as sweet savory for many dishes, fruits, vegetables and hundreds of dishes. It has such an amazing flavor.

            1. If the reduction is a bit acidic still - or you are looking for an extra rich taste and mouth feel - ( like on a steak) mont au buerre or the final addition of a little cold butter swirled in as a final liason is really nice. Good balsamic doesn't need it - puts ok balsamic over the top.
              ( warm sauce - not cold as with tomatoes)

              6 Replies
              1. re: coastie

                Good comment, a nice pad of butter gives it some sweetness. Nice touch. I love mine over a platter of thin sliced heirloom tomatoes, fennel and thin wild mushrooms. When I do that I top it with some fresh chopped rosemary, and ground black pepper. You can even top with some fresh shavings of Peccorino Romano. A pretty dish for a salad. Serve individually, it is really elegant.

                1. re: coastie

                  The plan was to make it to go with our ribeyes tonight. It seems like it would be delicious with steak. Gonna practice on it this afternoon (is it okay to reheat it?) And thanks for all the help, y'all!

                  1. re: bayoucook

                    It can be reheated or served at room temperature. Sounds like a lovely meal - having a Friday night date!?

                    1. re: alwayscooking

                      Right - with my husband of almost 32 years whom I adore. It's always been just the two of us. He's a non-cooking foodie, altho' he can cook....

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        It still qualifies as a date meal. Besides nothing wrong with dating even after 32 years :))

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          Nope. I really lucked out with this guy! smile..

                2. I reduce on its own. You can fix it at the end if needed.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: jaykayen

                    Are the "only" fixes catsup or soy sauce, or drippings?

                    1. re: bayoucook

                      I personally wouldn't use ketchup. Soy sauce maybe. Any drippings should go back in with the reduction. I assume that the ribeyes will be seasoned with salt and pepper? If you do like ketchup, I'd add a Tbsp of browned tomato paste instead.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Hi Sam. Yes, they'll be seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper only.
                        Seared in a cast iron skillet then placed in the oven until just so. We love anything with tomatoes in it, so may use ketchup...

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          I'd follow Sam's advice and use some tomato paste instead of ketchup - the ketchup has sugar that ay throw it off a bit. Use the paste and brown it or not. You really need nothing else for the steak - the suace should have a lovely deep flavor that will well complete the meat.

                          1. re: alwayscooking

                            I will disagree as always ... sorry, I don't like ketchup added, but again personal taste. I like more the balsamic with the shallots and herbs, but if you want a richer sweet taste I usually add 1 teaspoon or less of brown sugar, about 1/4 at a time and taste. To me that is more the taste I want, but again. I have tried the ketchup once (I didn't cook) but I did not like it.

                            But hey, we all have different tastes.

                      2. re: bayoucook

                        I like maybe some diced shallots, with the dripping, I think that adds a good contrast, and maybe some simple thyme or rosemary, but go light. I just add a little. Taste as you go. A small shallot grated is great cuz it melts in. My preference, but I do think a little butter is a good recommendation especially with steak. Seasoning to me is a taste issue. Whatever you enjoy and it is really dependent to me on what you are serving on the side.

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          It's corny, but I'm doing a stuffed baked potato and steamed asparagus. Will that work?

                    2. I reduce a ~4 to 1 mixture of balsamic to ruby port. The port adds some sweetness that balances the acidity nicely.

                      1. You may have already completed your venture, but be aware that you need to crank up the exhaust fan and open a window or 2. Better yet, use a portable burner and do it outside. The smell will permeate your house if you're not careful! Speaking from past experience. ;-)

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: HaagenDazs

                          Thanks, I will. My sunny kitchen faces the bayou and the windows will be open!

                          1. re: bayoucook

                            Preferably with a fan in that open window. :-)

                            1. re: HaagenDazs

                              That bad, huh? I'll bring in my large floor fan that lives in my bedroom.

                          2. re: HaagenDazs

                            Really? I never noticed that. I'm surprised, but OK, I live in FL, windows open more than closed. Point taken if the house is closed. I never noticed and would of never thought of that.

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              Well, at the time I didn't have an exhaust fan over the stove so everything that vaporized or evaporated stayed put. And yeah, there was a pretty strong smell of vinegar in the house for a day or so. So much that when I do that now, I just do it outside.

                              I guess it just depends on how much you actually reduce, but if you take a cup or 2 of vinegar and boil it away into syrup, you're going to end up with some very significant smells!

                              1. re: HaagenDazs

                                I can imagine, I have a great fan and yes, FL, windows and doors open which certainly helps. I can imagine the smell.

                                I like air, but not that much. In the heat of summer, but not very cold, so I put mine on late so the house is open a lot. One advantage of FL living. However, it does bring in humidity, which is a baking problem, especially during the summer.

                          3. Big thanks to all of you. Will report back!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: bayoucook

                              You mentioned doing the sauce before and reheating. This will work fine with straight reduction with additional ingredients but not butter. Warm it up slowly it will want to caramelize around edges.( Alos if you let it get too thick - but it hasn't burned ...add some liquid back - it will spring back as long as flavor hasn't gotten scorched)
                              If you are adding the butter it must be a la minute or sauce will break and lose velvet texture

                              1. re: coastie

                                I just did my sauce reheated last week. I reheated and once warm added the butter. Turned out great. And it was perfect. Served it with my shallots and a tablespoons of fresh butter or 2 steaks. I didn't have any problem.

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  exactly - as long as the butter is added at the end it will be velvety...Probably a really good idea to do ahead as everyone has mentioned unless you have gas masks to pass out to your guests

                            2. I DID IT! But I can't breathe! Wow.
                              Started with 1 cup and ended with about 1/4-1/3 cup - is that right? Added a touch of brown sugar and a touch of ketchup. Want to add butter, will do it tonight when I reheat it, I guess. It is delicious and will be regular in my house b/c I love vinegar-y things. Took about 35-40 minutes, tho' - felt like a long time, but worth it. Thanks to all!!!

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: bayoucook

                                Yeah! High 5's! Congrats!

                                (Can I come to dinner?)

                                =)

                                1. re: alwayscooking

                                  Thanks! Sure, come on waaayy down (Boston to Biloxi!).

                                2. re: bayoucook

                                  Sounds perfect, Add the butter to melt it velvety to night and perfect. Now in FL, all my windows would be open, but do understand the smell. I think you will love it.

                                  I love this over pork too. I squeeze some fresh oj in it and make some roasted oranges and onions on the side with spinach and pour it over the pork and spinach. Great compliment. This goes with soo much.

                                  Enjoy tonight!!

                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                    thanks kchurchill couldn't 'a' done without you!
                                    I have fresh spinach and a small pork loin ( 3/4 lb.) - will try your recipe tomorrow.

                                    1. re: bayoucook

                                      Just enjoy!! The best part of it. If it tastes good, you did good. That is all that counts.

                                      FYI, some toasted pecans would top it off, but not necessary, and gorgonzola is a awesome compliment too if you like that. But anything goes.

                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                        Went to your website and it was wonderful! You should be booked up all the time. I'm a retired food and beverage manager/director and I and my team used to do some catering for special parties and events and it was fun but very hard work. I enjoyed the work, and the pay was good, but got exhausted being on call 24/7/365. May go back to work someday, but something different.
                                        Anyway, thanks for your help and I wish you many many bookings.
                                        Paula

                                      2. re: kchurchill5

                                        mmmm pork ...I think we think a bit alike . I love the reduction with pork. I also frequently add a bit of OJ or zest and a bit chopped tomato . Comes together almost like a bbq sauce. Another fav is too caramelized onions and just when they are done to dose with the balsamic and reduce. Used that in a salad dressing and it was mentioned very positively when I was reviewed

                                        1. re: coastie

                                          Yep orange zest is great, haven't used it with tomato but who knows. I had the ketchup or tomato sauce and didn't like that much but fresh may have a whole different flavor. Love the onions with it.

                                    2. Dinner was excellent! I reheated the reduction and added some (European) butter.
                                      My steak-purist husband wanted it on the side. He loved it. There is none left. Thank all of you for the help, it'll be a regular in this house.
                                      Paula

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                        Good job girl! Glad you enjoyed. I love it too.