I was at the store the other day grabbing some vinegar when I happened to notice a small bottle of Balsamic Reduction for sale, right next to the Balsamic Vinegar I was buying to make a reduction. But lemme tell ya, it was pricey! The bottle was darling, though, with a cute little cork, but even that couldn’t justify paying that much for a Simple Balsamic Reduction.
So since I was making a Balsamic Reduction for my Copycat Outback Steakhouse Salad, I thought I better make a post about Balsamic Reduction. I already have several recipes on my site, both sweet and savory that use a Balsamic Reduction…but maybe it IS time to devote a post to it.
About Simple Balsamic Reduction:
First of all, don’t buy your Balsamic Reduction. Making a Balsamic Reduction is super simple. At the most basic it’s just adding some Balsamic Vinegar to a small pan and heating it to a simmer and simmering until it has reduced to the thickness you want. Easy peasy, right?
But even better, when you make your own Balsamic Reduction you have all kinds of opportunities to customize it to your tastes. (Sometimes a Balsamic Reduction is referred to as a Balsamic Glaze. Those typically have a higher amount of sweetener in them.)
- You can make your Balsamic Reduction as thick as you’d like (although if you want to go very thick you’ll need to watch it like a hawk at the end so it doesn’t burn.) Most reductions are simmered until the original amount is reduced by half, usually thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. They thicken a bit more when cooled.
- You can add a bit of sweetener to your Balsamic Reduction, which is always nice, both for sweet or savory reductions. And you get to choose if you want, how much you want and what you wish to add. A little white sugar or brown or any other kind that suits you or maybe a bit of agave or honey. A little sweetener takes the edge off the vinegar & makes it taste great while a bit more gives a bit of irresistible sweet and sour action. And if you use a lot of sugar, you’ll make a Balsamic Glaze.
- I’ll generally add just a touch of butter to my Balsamic Reduction which gives it a beautiful sheen but also gives it just a little more body, a luxurious mouthfeel and makes it a little more cohesive. You’ll add it in after the reduction is made and has cooled just a bit.
- And if you wish, you can add an herb or another flavoring to your Balsamic Reduction. Thyme goes well with so many things, Rosemary might have its place. A touch of citrus can be nice and spices like cinnamon or clove and even bay can be simmered right along with the Balsamic.
Making Simple Balsamic Reduction:
Let’s talk about the Balsamic Vinegar you’ll use in your Reduction. First of all, don’t use a precious, pricey aged Balsamic. It would be a shame to treat a great Balsamic to the heat of the reduction and the aged Balsamics are already a syrupy wonder.
Since a reduction is going to intensify and make just about any Balsamic Vinegar taste great, you can get by with a grocery store balsamic. You’ll find even cheap old grocery Balsamic is going to have great flavor punch once it’s reduced, but as with most things, don’t use the cheapest one you can find. Once reduced any flaws in the flavor are intensified right along with the vinegar.
You can make this with a White Balsamic or with regular Balsamic. Both have their place. I have not played around a lot with the White Balsamic but I can see it, in my mind’s eye, drizzled over fruit.
How To Use Your Simple Balsamic Reduction:
I mentioned I have a few recipes on my site that use a Balsamic Reduction. Two are desserts, one is my Bosc Pears in Balsamic Reduction (everyone I’ve served this to, especially my folks, loved this one) and the other is Grilled Plums with Mascarpone and a Balsamic Gastrique. A Gastrique, in this case, is when the honey is cooked down until it’s started to caramelize and then the Balsamic is whisked in.
Balsamic Reduction is often used in savory dishes, too, and my absolute favorite example is this Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Tomatoes. Heavenly! I also have used a reduction drizzled over Roasted Brussels Sprouts & over open-faced Grilled Caprese Chicken Sandwiches. And of course, you can use a Balsamic Reduction on salads, I’ve used it, as mentioned, for my Copycat Outback Steakhouse Salad.
Once you know how to make your own Balsamic Reduction at the drop of a hat, you’re freed up from relying just on recipes that call for it and can go wild in all kinds of ways. (Note: your definition of wild may not be the same as mine, lol!!) You might want to use some as dressing or as you would a vinaigrette for green salads, tomato salads, or other veggies. Grilled or Roasted veggies, maybe.
Balsamic Reduction can go in (just a smidge) Tomato Soup or drizzled over the top of my very favorite Split Pea Soup. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try a drizzle or two in another soup. Just be careful; Balsamic Reduction has a lot of flavor. And, of course, try your balsamic over fruit as a dessert. Can you imagine how good a tiny drizzle would be over sweet strawberries? Or summer peaches?
Simple Balsamic Reduction
- 1 cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1 to 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons butter
In a small, heavy saucepan, mix together the Balsamic and honey or sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a good simmer and until the mixture has thickened slightly and coats a spoon. Generally, this is reduced by about 1/2 but can vary depending on the Balsamic Vinegar you start with and how thick you wish the Balsamic Reduction to be.. Watch carefully at the end; this will take several minutes.
Remove from heat, let cool slightly and whisk in butter. Cool to room temperature.
- Various herbs and seasonings may be added; see the body of text.
- If your Balsamic Reduction becomes too thick, thin with a bit of warm water. If it thickens in the fridge from the cold, place it in a bowl of very hot water until it warms a bit.
- Balsamic Reduction will keep for weeks, almost indefinitely, in the refrigerator.
I’ll be sharing at Fiesta Friday # 256, hosted this week by Liz @ spades, spatulas & spoons and Moi! That’s right, I’ll be stopping by and visiting all the wonderful bloggers who took a few minutes to join in. Maybe they’ll be some party recipes!! Happy Happy New Year.