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Q: pH of balsamic vinegar reduction ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: pH of balsamic vinegar reduction
Category: Science > Chemistry
Asked by: drangle-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 21 Apr 2004 18:56 PDT
Expires: 21 May 2004 18:56 PDT
Question ID: 334104
Since a pH of 4.5 or lower is required to prevent growth of
Clostridium botulinum, can Clostridium botulinum grow in REDUCED
balsamic vinegar?  (i.e., balsamic vinegar that has been reduced to a
sweeter, thicker consistency via heating)?
Subject: Re: pH of balsamic vinegar reduction
Answered By: hummer-ga on 22 Apr 2004 07:48 PDT
Hi drangle,

First, a note about Balsamic Vinegar. The real stuff, made in Italy,
is so precious that not many people would consider reducing it - it is
very expensive and used very sparingly as a flavour enhancer on food.
The inexpensive imitations that our found on our grocery shelves are
made with grape juice or red wine vinegar with caramel added.


Food Reference -> Vinegar:
"Balsamic vinegar, the specialty of Modena in Emilia-Romagna, Italy
has appellation controllee status. Authentic balsamic vinegar is very
expensive. If a grocery store offers balsamic vinegar for a few
dollars for a 8 oz. (250 ml) bottle, you can be sure that is
commercial vinegar coloured with caramelized sugar."
"Only 3000 gallons (approximately 11,400 litres) of authentic balsamic
vinegar is released annually; this should give you an idea how
precious it is."
"It is made like no other vinegar. The juice of sweet Trebbiano di
Romagna grapes grown around Modena is first boiled and then infused
with ?mother vinegar? from old reserves to start the acidification
Then the liquid is aged in chestnut, cherry, ash and mulberry casks,
the order of which changes each establishment. Compensation for
evaporation occurs by employing smaller barrels for each consecutive
year, i.e. the first year aging occurs in a 50 litre cask, the 2nd in
45 litre etc.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizinole di Modena must be aged for a minimum of 12
years and Aceto Balsamico Tradizional di Modena Extra Vecchio for 25.
It is a rich-tasting, dark, smooth, perfumey, almost syrupy textured
and deeply flavoured vinegar that can be used to provide extra flavour
to roasted vegetables, roasts and even used on strawberries in season
to render them heavenly.
A 8 oz (250 ml) would cost pending on location $ 150.- (2002) and
extra vecchio double that.
There are also many Balsamic Vinegars from Modena, (and other areas of
Italy) that are 2 to 12 years old that range in price from about $10
to $75 for an 8 oz bottle, and some are excellent ? they may not be
?Aceto Balsamico Tradizinale di Modena ?, but they are not just
commercial vinegars colored with caramelized sugar ]."

How sour it is!
"Balsamic is probably the most abused vinegar through cheap
imitations. There are hundreds of them available - vinegar coloured by
caramel and heaven knows what else, selling for a couple of dollars a
bottle. Beware any recipe that calls for half a cup of balsamic
vinegar. That's not how you use the real stuff. Genuine balsamic
should be used sparingly, lovingly - a teaspoon here, a few drops
there - on strawberries, cooked mushrooms, hearty bean soups, salads
of bitter greens, grilled steak, and - most deliciously - on roast
pumpkin. It is sometimes used as a tonic, to be taken on its own by
the teaspoonful."

Self preservation
"Since the United States has no standard of identity governing
balsamic vinegar, many producers may use nontraditional or commercial
balsamic vinegar, an economical alternative to the traditional product
for mass production. "You've got somewhat of an open market on how
(nontraditional) balsamic can be made in the United States, although
it must be made from grape," says Chumley. "There are no geographical
restrictions on where the grapes come from, and no rules regarding the
aging process. Manufacturers of commercial balsamic also may add
sugars and caramel color so you're getting that rich color." Because
of the lack of standards of identity, a commercial or nontraditional
product in the United States does not have to be called imitation or
anything other than balsamic, but it cannot - under any circumstances
- carry the seal of Modena or be called a "product of Modena."
"According to Pam Chumley, president of The Vinegar Institute and
executive director of ADS, Atlanta, vinegar must have a level of at
least 4% acidity in order to be called vinegar. This is specified in a
compliance policy guide governed by the FDA. "Finished retail vinegars
typically run from 4% to 6%," adds Chumley. Large scale manufacturers
generally buy vinegars in bulk at 200 grain (20% acidity) or 100 grain
(10% acidity), and dilute it to a level appropriate for their

Aged Balsamic Vinegar:
"The age of the vinegar is divided into young ? from 3 to 5 years
maturation; middle aged 6 to 12 years and the highly prized very old
which is at least 12 years and up to 150 years old.
Young vinegars are ideal for marinates and de-glazing pans. The middle
aged ones are good to add to sauces or braises at the end of cooking,
into risottos, pasta or dressings. The very old vinegars are sparingly
drizzled over vanilla ice cream, used to macerate strawberries and
peaches, drizzled over meats or used to accompany creamy style chesses
like ricotta or mascarpone. And can be simply used as a digestive and
sipped like a good fortified wine at the end of a meal."
"Once you have tasted true balsamic vinegar, the replicas are like
imitation vanilla to vanilla essence ? they are very different in
texture & taste, but our budgets often don?t stretch this far. The
imitations are made on red wine vinegar or concentrated grape juice
mixed with a strong vinegar which is laced with caramel. There is
nothing wrong with these products, other than they are sold to the
unsuspecting or uneducated consumer."


Now on to the preservative quality of vinegar and your specific
question about using reduced vinegar. When you boil vinegar, the
acetic acid boils away with the water. Given so many variables (e.g.,
the value of the vinegar before you started, the length of time it's
boiled), it's impossible to say what the acidic level of your finished
product would be, but it would change. However, you can buy an acid
test kit to find out.


"Balsamic has a high acid level, but the sweetness covers the tart
flavor, making it very mellow."

Acid Basics:
"Vinegar strength commonly is measured in "grains." In the United
States, this refers to the percent acid times 10. For example,
100-grain vinegar contains 10% acetic acid, 90% water. Distilled
vinegar strength ranges from 50 to 300 grains. Specialty vinegars
range from 40 to 100 grains. The color of distilled vinegar ranges
from a straw color to water white."

"Boiling vinegar will not concentrate it, since the acetic acid will
boil away as well as the water due to it forming an azeotrope with the
water. You will get a very little bit of concentration, perhaps. To
effectively concentrate it, you have to do fractional distillation.
You can find out how to do this on the web by looking up "fractional
distillation" in google."

"Some years ago there was a chicken recipe going around that used
reduced vinegar as the deglazing liquid. At the time, it seemed very
daring, but when vinegar cooks down, it loses some of its acidity and
adds a layer of sweetness to the sauce."

Acid test kits, sold by winemaking suppliers, are used to determine
the acidity of vinegar.

Vinegar Making:
"I've never bothered to test the acidity of completed vinegar. I've
read that the typical titration type acid test kit used for winemaking
can be used. The problem is that alot of the 0.1 normal NaOH solution
will be needed. A work-around is a 0.5 normal solution that's said to
be available via better wine making suppliers. pH papers are said to
be useless for determining percent acidity."

I hope I've been able to sort this out for you. If you have any
questions, please post a clarification request before closing/rating
my answer and I'll be happy to respond.

Thank you,

Google Search Terms Used

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"balsamic vinegar" preservative
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Clostridium botulinum vinegar
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