Sugar is a wonderful thing.
Here, we’re not talking about added sugars found in many desserts, snacks and other goodies we enjoy. We mean natural sugar and sweetness already occurring and delighting your tastebuds.
Such tantalizing and delicious sweet profiles can be found in ingredients like Fustini’s Balsamic Vinegars. Whether infused or traditional, the natural sugars found in this versatile ingredient can be utilized for much more than a standard vinaigrette.
Two of the most popular cooking techniques that involve balsamic vinegars are caramelizing and deglazing. As you grow in your cooking repertoire, these two cooking processes can become common practices in your meal prep, greatly amping up the flavors of your normal dishes.
Both caramelizing and deglazing are fairly simple and straightforward techniques. To help you get started in using sugar properties found in balsamic to transform your food flavors, here we share what you need to know about caramelizing and deglazing.
When you think of caramelizing, the word caramel might come to mind - and rightly so. It’s essentially the same. After all, the sweet caramel candy is made from cooking down sugar. According to the Science of Cooking, caramelization happens when sugar oxidizes. As steam is removed from the sugar, it breaks down and the reaction produces the light tan color and classic flavor. When you caramelize plain sugar, that’s what makes caramel sauce and candies.
In classic cooking terms, it means utilizing those naturally occurring sugars to alter the flavor and color of your food. Caramelizing also adds to the flavor of your ingredients by incorporating notes of nuttiness and crispness, which you can use to your advantage in many recipes.
It’s important to remember that you can’t caramelize and steam or boil at the same time. It needs to be in dry heat. Caramelization also happens quickly, so using the stovetop or grill is usually your best bet.
Caramelizing is as easy as grabbing your favorite bottle of balsamic and brushing or drizzling it on top of your food. This could be anything from fruits to vegetables to fish to poultry to any other kind of meat. Next, you’ll cook your food in a pan with some EVOO until the outsides of your food are caramelized. The coating will become thick and stick - and of course, delicious.
Have you ever marinated your meat? Marinating with balsamic vinegar is kind of like prepping your meat for caramelizing. As the meat soaks up the balsamic, it’s ready to start caramelizing right when it goes on the grill or sauté pan.
When it comes to cooking with balsamic, another popular and versatile technique is deglazing. While it sounds fancy and complicated, it’s actually quick and easy to accomplish as you’re throwing together your weeknight dinner.
Deglazing is simply the process of adding a liquid, such as balsamic vinegar, to a hot pan which then loosens the browned bits of caramelized food on the bottom. As previously described, caramelized foods add an extra level of flavor to whatever you’re cooking, and you don’t want to lose out on those flavors in having them stuck to the pan.
Deglazing ensures that your food is packed with all the flavor possible. It’ll also help as you do the dishes as you’ll end with a cleaner pan.
Even though it may sound fancy, deglazing is actually a really easy process that uses a liquid like balsamic vinegar and heat. After you’ve sautéed your food in a EVOO and there’s no remaining oil, add a small amount of balsamic vinegar to the pan. The balsamic will begin to sizzle on the meat, veggies or whatever you’re cooking. Scrape and stir the loosened browned bits of caramelized food on the bottom of your pan as you incorporate it back into your ingredients. Often, this caramelized concoction of flavor takes on a sauce-like profile to delight your tastebuds.
With practical techniques like caramelizing and deglazing, you can amp up the flavor of your dishes quickly and easily. All you need to get started is some heat and your favorite Fustini’s balsamic vinegar. The sugar properties in the vinegar can help to transform your flavors and delight your tastebuds. Stock up on the flavors that go best with the dishes you love to make and get to caramelizing and deglazing your next weeknight dinner or mid-day snack.
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