AskDefine | Define balsamic

Dictionary Definition

balsamic adj : of or relating to or containing balsam; "a balsamic fragrance" [syn: balsamy]

User Contributed Dictionary



balsam + -ic


  • /ˌbɔːlˈsæmɪk/
  • Rhymes: -æmɪk


  1. Relating to balsam.


Extensive Definition

Balsamic vinegar (Italian: aceto balsamico) is a traditional flavoured vinegar commonly used in Italian cuisine. It is also often used as a salad dressing when combined with oil. It is a traditional product originating in Modena, where it has been made since the Middle Ages and some of the names (notably: "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena") are protected by the Denominazione di Origine Protetta and the European Union's Protected designation of origin. Unlike common vinegars, only the traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena is dark and thick with a complex but sweet taste, well aged, and much more expensive.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is highly appreciated and valued by chefs and gourmet food lovers. The Italian food writer Marcella Hazan has been credited with popularising it in Britain and North America (where it was largely unknown until the 1980s).

Classifications of balsamic vinegar

Only two consortia produce true traditional balsamic vinegar, Modena and Reggio Emilia. Reggio Emila (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia) designates the different ages of their balsamic vinegar by label colour. A red label means the vinegar has been aged for at least 12 years, a silver label that the vinegar has aged for at least 18 years and a gold label that designates the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more.
Modena (Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena) uses a different system to indicate the age of their balsamic vinegars. A white cup means the vinegar has aged for at least 12 years and a golden cup bearing the designation extravecchio to show the vinegar has aged for 25 years or more.


Commercial grade balsamic vinegar can be used in salad dressings, marinades and sauces. Cooks use tradizionale and condimento vinegars in small amounts in simple dishes where the balsamic vinegar's complex tastes can be noted. Young vinegars (3–5 years) are used in salad dressing while mid-aged balsamic vinegars (6–12 years) are used to enhance sauces, pastas and risottos. Old vinegars (12 years plus), which are very rich and thick, are used sparsely to enhance plain meat or fish, fresh fruit such as strawberries or even drunk from a small glass to conclude a meal. It is also used as a topping on vanilla ice cream. Some people use it instead of wine in food (because wine is forbidden in some religions). Some older balsamic vinegar is added to the must to create a more complex and intricate taste, and to enhance acidity. At the end of the process, the vinegar is taken from the smallest cask: each cask is filled with the contents of the preceding (larger) cask and the cooked must is added to the largest cask.
Balsamic vinegar of the highest quality, labeled tradizionale, usually sells for very high prices; a small (100 ml) bottle can cost between US $100 and $400. Most producers, however, do not employ all seven of the aforementioned woods in the aging process; some employ only oak. Several mass-produced, less expensive varieties may not be aged in wood at all, being nothing more than ordinary wine vinegar with coloring and added sugar. Legally, according to the rules of the Consortium, these are not allowed to be called "traditional". However, since the wording "Aceto Balsamico di Modena" failed to achieve the IGP status ("Protected Geographical Indication" or "Indicazione Geografica Protetta"), products marketed by that name may not have even been produced in Modena. Only the products named "Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena" and "Aceto balsamico tradizionale di Reggio Emilia" are protected by the European PDO (Protected designation of origin) label


balsamic in Bosnian: Balzamovo sirće
balsamic in Catalan: Vinagre balsàmic
balsamic in German: Aceto balsamico
balsamic in Spanish: Aceto balsámico
balsamic in French: Vinaigre balsamique
balsamic in Korean: 발사믹 식초
balsamic in Italian: Aceto balsamico
balsamic in Dutch: Balsamico
balsamic in Japanese: バルサミコ酢
balsamic in Polish: Ocet balsamiczny
balsamic in Swedish: Balsamvinäger
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