Homemade balsamic glaze is a simple recipe that anyone can easily and quickly make with very little skills or effort required.
What is it?
Balsamic glaze or balsamic reduction as it's also called, is simply balsamic vinegar that's been reduced to concentrate it's flavour and to make it thicker.
Sometimes aromatics and a sweetener are added depending on how your vinegar and what you want to use it for.
True Balsamic vinegar is an aged vinegar from Modena that's spent years maturing in wooden barrels and the longer it matures the thicker, darker and more nuanced it becomes.
A true Balsamic vinegar will never need to go through a reduction process and it would be silly to even think about it as it would be already perfect to use as a glaze.
Most commercial varieties, however, are mass-produced and un-nuanced with a watery consistency.
The easiest way and by no means a replacement for the real deal is to flavour the vinegar, sweeten it up a bit and slowly reduce it.
At a bare minimum, you would need a balsamic vinegar. Taste it and if it has a good flavour profile already and it is slightly sweet then you don't need any extra aromatics or sweetener.
- Vinegar - Use a medium-priced commercial brand of balsamic. There is no need for spending loads of money on something we flavour ourselves.
- Sugar - I use brown sugar but you can use honey, agave or just plain regular sugar. Brown sugar has a slight molasses flavour which real balsamic also has. If you have molasses then add a touch to help it along.
- Flavourings - The selection of spices works magic in this reduction. I used coriander, star anise, juniper berries, and bay leaf.
How to make it
The process is simple but keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn or over reduce. Over reduce we can fix but, burn it and you have to start all over.
- Make sure you are in a well-ventilated kitchen. Reducing vinegar can be a mild irritant so keep the air flowing and don't go sniff it close up while reducing. Nothing bad will happen. It's just not very pleasant.
- Weigh out all the ingredients and place it into a suitable saucepan.
- Place the saucepan on the stove on medium heat and gently let the glaze reduce. I've indicated the exact amount of reduction required in the recipe down in the recipe card.
- Once the desired reduction is achieved, strain it through a fine-mesh strainer and store in an airtight container until you need it. The reduction will be very hot so be careful not to burn yourself.
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You can make a few gentle changes to this recipe but keep it classy and if you want to know if your ideas will work then get in touch.
- Spices - Clove, nutmeg and fennel seeds all work well when used in small quantities.
- Sweetener - You can change or omit the sweetener all together depending on what you want to use it for. This recipe is very well balanced though so use it as a base.
- Herbs - Small amounts of herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage works wonderful.
Balsamic glaze is a bit of a go-to for many chefs and home cooks alike. It's tasty with many dishes and sometimes surprisingly tasty with things like strawberry or ice cream.
- Drizzled Over salads - Caprese being the obvious choice. Try with figs and goat's cheese, baked beetroot and feta, simple rocket, shrimp and pine nut or my personal favourite this roasted pumpkin and pecan salad.
- With seasonal fruit - Persimmon, peaches, figs, pears, strawberries, melon, watermelon, and apricots are but a few. All of them great with a few young mint leaves and green basil.
- Over ice cream - Any fruit flavoured, vanilla, or herb flavoured ice cream.
- With vegetables - With simply cooked vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, pumpkin or roasted peppers.
- With grilled meats - Like bacon-wrapped pork, crispy pork belly, oven-baked chicken breast, or bbq lamb chops.
- Over dips or as a dip - Drizzle over baked Moroccan eggplant zaalouk, Pea and mint dip or mix with some olive oil. Then dip sourdough bread into it and then into dukkah. You'll be going for a ride on the Ferris wheel in flavour town.
Frequently asked questions
This depends on what you want to use it for and how sweet your original vinegar is. It's best to taste the vinegar first and then decide if you want to use a sweetener or not.
Stored airtight. Keep in or out of the fridge.
Because it's vinegar, it will last for almost forever when stored correctly.
Use a medium to low priced vinegar and do not use a real aged balsamic vinegar of Modena. The real deal will make you cry when you see the price so you'll know when it's too much))
Other recipes you might like
If you like making your own homemade version of popular condiments then you will find the following recipes useful:
- Teriyaki sauce
- Indonesian kecap manis
- Authentic Caesar dressing
- Pumpkin puree
- Homemade mayonnaise
- Apple sauce
Useful equipment for this recipe
Electronic Kitchen Scales
Fine Mesh Strainers
Small Kilner jars
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