Fustini's Oils and Vinegars

Cooking Techniques: Reductions and Syrups

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You’ve learned how to marinate. You know you can use vinegar to caramelize your ingredients. You’ve paired your vinegar with Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a vinaigrette.

Did you know there’s still a lot more you can do with your favorite balsamic vinegars?

Whether you’re looking for a new flavor to incorporate into your dishes or just wanting to mix things up in the kitchen, balsamic vinegars are versatile and quick and easy to use.

Here, we introduce two simple and helpful cooking techniques you can use in everything from meats to vegetables to desserts and so much more. A balsamic reduction and simple syrup utilize the science of sugar to transform the balsamic into a sweet and flavorful topping. Despite potentially sounding intimidating, these cooking techniques are actually quick and easy that only require one or two ingredients and just a few steps.

Balsamic Reductions (Glaze)

If you’ve ever read the phrase “drizzled with a sweet balsamic glaze” in the menu at a fancy restaurant, all it means is that they’ve cooked down a balsamic vinegar to make it thicker. That’s the process of reducing a balsamic, which creates that glaze that’s perfect on top of both sweet and savory dishes.

Now before you start making excuses of how it sounds way too challenging to make for a simple weeknight dinner, remember that all you need is one ingredient. All you need is your favorite Fustini’s Balsamic Vinegar. That’s it. The cooking equipment is basic, too. All you’ll need is a saucepan, a whisk and a stove.

The balsamic is naturally sweet, so there’s no need to add any extra sugar or other ingredients. And, when the balsamic is cooked down, the concentration of that sweetness increases.

To make your own glaze, start by bringing your favorite flavor of Fustini’s Balsamic Vinegar to a boil in a saucepan. Whisk the balsamic constantly, while keeping it at a slow boil on medium to low heat. Keep on whisking until the balsamic is reduced by 50 percent in volume. This happens through evaporation of the boiling balsamic and usually takes between 10-15 minutes. As you whisk, you’ll also notice that the balsamic becomes much thicker, which intensifies the flavor. Once reduced, remove from the heat. The glaze will continue to thicken as it cools, so be sure not to overcook your reduction based on consistency. Otherwise, it’ll be too thick to use. Now, you’ve got an instant flavor enhancer made of just one natural ingredient.

Of course, if you’re really in a time crunch, you can always just pick up your own balsamic glaze from Fustini’s. This all-natural glaze doesn’t include any additional preservatives, additives, thickeners or soy and is USDA certified organic. It’s made of just grape must and red wine vinegar.

How to use your glaze

This balsamic glaze is such a versatile ingredient that you can use for your breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Brush on your meat after grilling or sauteing. Drizzle on fruit rather than adding additional sugar. Add a pop of sweetness to your roasted or steamed veggies. Dip your aged cheeses in it. Drizzle on your flavor-packed flatbreads. With such a simple process and easy to whip up, you’ll want to use balsamic glaze on all your dishes.

Syrups

When it comes to making your own simple syrup with balsamic vinegar, this isn’t your typical store-bought sticky topping full of preservatives and added artificial flavors. When you make it yourself, all you need is three simple ingredients: water, sugar and balsamic. Like when creating a balsamic reduction, the sugar is the key actor in transforming the flavors and consistency of what you’re making.

To make your own syrup, start by combining 2 cups of water with 1 cup of white sugar in a medium saucepan. Place the sugar and water over medium heat. In a separate large bowl, add 1 cup of ice cubes. Then, once the sugar has melted in the saucepan, add a few splashes of your favorite balsamic vinegar. This can amp up the flavor of your syrup with just natural ingredients. Once you’ve added that extra flavor, pour that mixture over the ice cubes. You’ll begin to see the ice cubes melt and the syrup becomes a thicker, stickier consistency. Put it in the refrigerator to chill and get the right, smooth consistency of syrup.

How you can use your syrup

Pancakes and waffles are just the start of how you can use your homemade syrup. Drizzle it on roasted potatoes. Swap it for chocolate sauce on your bowl of ice cream. Pour some in your baked beans. Brush it on roasted or grilled salmon or other fish. Use it as a sweet popcorn topper. With this simple recipe, you can mix and match flavors and discover new opportunities for using this stick sauce of sweetness.

Make the Topping Once and Use for Days

For many, whipping up a quick weeknight meal doesn’t allow you a lot of time, effort and energy to create a fancy five-course meal with all the garnishes and seasonings you might find at a restaurant.

Good thing you can make these balsamic reductions (glaze) and syrups ahead of time and store in the fridge until your next use. Making these glazes and syrups yourself, rather than getting them from the grocery store, ensures you know exactly what ingredients you’re consuming, staying clear of added preservatives and chemicals that are often added in by manufacturers.

With a little bit of heat and manipulating the properties of sugar, you can create delicious and flavorful homemade glazes and syrups that amp up your dishes with just a few drizzles. Impress yourself - and your friends - and see what you can do with just some balsamic and a saucepan.

 

 

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