2015 Italfoods Balsamic Guide

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Balsamic Guide
        “ Traditional    Balsamic   Vinegar    is   obtained    by   acidification,   maturation   and    aging   of    cooked    must,   in   batteries   of    barrels   of    decreasing   size   and    different    woods .”  A   LABOR   OF   LOVE First   of   all,   we   should   realize   that   most   of   us   have   not   tasted   Aceto   Balsamico   Tradizionale.   Many   of   us   have   experienced   Balsamic   Vinegars   that   range   from   very   good   to   a   product   that   is   better    left   as   a   solvent   to   strip   old   furniture.   Aceto   Balsamico   Tradizionale   is   a   product   of   years   of   work   and   generations   of   family   commitment   to   tradition.   It   started   out   as   a   medicine   given   to   kings   and   emperors.   Often,   it   became   part   of   a   woman’s   dowry   on   her    wedding   day.   The   barrel   sets   in   which   the   vinegar    is   aged,   are   considered   heirlooms   and   have   been   included   in   wills   for    centuries.   It   is   an   elixir    secreted   away   in   the   Acetaia   – Balsamic   Loft   of   the   family   estate,   a   dark,   aromatic   liquid   that   is   meant   to   be   savored   as   a   digestiv   or    perhaps   to   drizzle   over    the   finest   Parmigiano   Reggiano.   To   make   Aceto   Balsamico   Tradizionale   one   must   be   patient,   careful,   and   have   the   knowledge   and   skill   to   produce   a   fine   Balsamico.   After    all,   it   takes   at   least   12   years   for    a   Tradizionale   to   reach   the   stage   at   which   it   can   be   judged   as   having   the   quality   to   receive   the   seal   given   by   the   consorzio   in   either    Modena   or    Reggio   Emilia   in   the   region   of   Emilia   Romagna.   In   the   whole   of   Italy,   it   is   only   these   two   geographical   areas   that   produce   the   coveted   DOP   Aceto   Balsamico   Tradizionale.   Each   region   has   its   own   distinct   bottles:The   process   of   making   an   approved   Tradizionale   starts   with   late   harvest   Trebbiano   or    Lambrusco   grapes,   two   varietals   that   grow   in   abundance   in   Modena   and   Reggio   Emilia.   The   grapes   are   gently   crushed   to   yield   their    precious   juices,   called   “must”   in   English   and   “mosto”   in   Italian.   The   liquid   is   gently   heated   to   the   DOP   minimum   requirement   of   80° C   (176° F).   The   classical   tradition   has   it   that   the   production   is   made   in   small   wooden   barrels   arranged   in   sets   of   no   less   than   five.   The   three   production   phases   are:   alcoholic   fermentation,   acetic   oxidization   and   ageing.   The   most   common   woods   used   for    the   barrels   are   oak,   chestnut,   mulberry,   cherry,   ash   and   juniper,   and   each   one   lends   a   particular    aroma   to   the   vinegar    and   makes   it   unique.   The   barrels   are   not   sealed,   which   allows   for    evaporation/concentration   over    time. MODENA REGGIO   EMILIA  This   series   of   wooden   casks   is   called   the   Batteria .   The   Batteria   is   kept   in   the   attic,   not   in   the   cellar,   and   it   is   the   combination   of   the   must,   the   bacteria,   the   special   woods,   the   climate  ‐  hot   in   the   summer,   cold   in   the   winter   ‐  and   time,   which   transforms   the   must   into   Aceto   Balsamico   Tradizionale.The   cooked   must   is   then   placed   in   the   “mother”   barrel   – which   still   has   the   bacterial   colonies   from   previous   batches  ‐  where   it   will   settle   during   the   spring,   letting   any   sediment   fall   to   the   bottom   and   beginning   its   transformation   into   aceto.   The   first   barrel  ‐  known   as   Rincalzo   is   filled   with   juice   from   the   mother    barrel.   The   second   phase   is   known   as   Travaso   which   simply   means   transferring   the   contents   of   the   first   barrel   to   the   second   which   could   be   anytime   after    one   year. This   cycle   will   continue   until   you   come   to   the   smallest   barrel   when   you   finally   get   to   perform   Prelievo  ‐  after    a   minimum   of   twelve   years   aging   of   course  ‐  which   is   the   removal   of   a   small   amount   of   the   precious   fluid   which   is   then   sent   for    judging.The   commercial   type   balsamic   vinegar    which   you   see   on   the   supermarket   shelves   is   made   from   a   wine   vinegar    into   which   aged   balsamic   vinegar    must   has   been   added.   The   addition   and   amount   of   must   added   to   the   red   wine   vinegar    determines   the   quality   of   the   commercial   type   balsamic   vinegar.   Other    things   such   as   coloring   and   wood   chips   can   be   added   during   the   creation   of   these   types   of   vinegars.Control   of   artisan   made   balsamic   vinegar    is   strict   in   Italy   and   to   check   for    authenticity   you   should   see   the   letters   APIMO   or    APIRE   which   indicate   that   the   balsamic   vinegar    is   made   in   either    Modena   or    Reggio   respectively.   SABA Saba   is   the   result   of   the   reduction   of   the   Trebbiano   and   Lambrusco   grape   must   by   simmering   in   copper    kettles   over    an   open   flame.   Using   the   same   grapes   as   in   Traditional   Balsamic,   the   reduction   is   accomplished   entirely   by   cooking   whereas   with   Traditional   Balsamic,   the   reduction   is   accomplished   very   slowly   by   evaporation   in   wooden   casks.   While   the   Saba   is   aged   after    being   cooked   it   is   only   aged   for    four    years   in   chestnut   and   oak   barrels. CONDIMENTOS Condimentos   are   packaged   with   the   official   seal   of   the   Produttori   Condimento   around   the   neck   of   the   bottle.   Condimentos   are   guaranteed   to   be   aged   in   wood   and   made   of   all   natural   in redients.   Producers   are   free   to   create   the   st le   and   flavor    rofile   the   wish.  Consorzio Aceto Balsamico di Modena (CABM) trademark, which is only granted to consortium members who observe the strictest standards in every phase of the process. The Consortium’s mark certifies: ã Production and bottling in the Province of Modena; ã Better standards regarding the density of aged products  Therefore the bordeaux red seal states that the product has been matured in wooden barrels for a minimum of two months up to a maximum of three years and bottled in the srcin zone. The white seal states an ageing for over three years in wooden barrels and a minimum density of 1,150. The golden seal indicates a “short supply chain” product and certifies the srcin of all raw materials from the sole province of Modena: from the very same grapes since ever used to produce another excellence of Modena –the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. The Seal of the Consorzio Aceto Balsamico di Modena
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