Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

There’s nothing complicated about making Balsamic Vinegar reduction, but it’s one of those simple tasks (like kneading bread, cooking rice, making custard, sorbet, nut milk, zabaglione, or soup) that Thermomix does exceptionally well.

Indeed, making a Balsamic vinegar reduction is about as easy as boiling water and for that reason, probably not worthy of an entire blog post. But — for Thermomix fans who haven’t made it yet, this page may be the incentive to try something new, fun, sexy, and versatile. Yes, sexy. As in tip-of-the-tongue stimulating. As in “deep, dark and musky with a tantalizing edge”. A coming-of-age pleasure for sensual foodies. Often enjoyed at night, but can be even more fun in the morning. Not quite liquid, not quite solid. Surprising! Dress it up or dress it down. Make it formal, fun, or funky. A tart, flirtatious Mediterranean syrup. Finger-licking good.

Vinegar at its best!
For those of us who enjoy savory foods, this syrupy vinegar treat is like the icing on the cake. But it can also be enjoyed as an accompaniment for fruits and sweeter foods. Use it to highlight flavours or as a counterpoint. Here are some ways I most enjoy Balsamic vinegar reduction:

  • drizzled over pizza
  • make fun designs on squash soup (or almost any soup)
  • as a dip for roasted or fried potatoes, or polenta fries
  • drizzled over salad, or mixed with oil (or mayonnaise), herbs and a squirt of additional citrus for salad dressing
  • straight up on sliced cheese (aged white cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda), cheese sandwiches, on a BLT
  • with an cheese omelet or scrambled eggs
  • and my all-time ooh-la-la favourite… on peanut butter and onion toast!

The basics —
Take any decent full-bodied Balsamic vinegar, heat to evaporate some of the water content and it will thicken as it reduces in volume and intensifies in flavour. By adding a bit of extra sugar (honey, maple syrup, port wine) we help and speed up the process. (This is where Thermomix proves itself — by heating and stirring to precision and without needing our attention.) Heat it longer and hotter for a more syrupy, caramelized result. Or reduce less for a more liquid consistency that is easier to pour and incorporate  into salad dressings. Ideally, it should have a thin to medium syrupy consistency resembling the texture of chocolate syrup.

Is this your first time? Read these tips for making Balsamic reduction:
As the vinegar cooks it gives off strong fumes. If you have a kitchen fan, turn it on before you start. Avoid leaning over the Thermomix to breathe in the aroma while cooking, as it can be quite sharp. Also, notice that there is a fine line between “reducing” and “caramelizing”. When the liquid reduces by half it will start to thicken. Even if it appears only slightly thicker than usual, that’s good, as it will continue to thicken as it cools. If allowed to cook too long (1/4 to 1/3 or the original volume) it will be caramelized. That’s okay — still tastes good but it harder to pour and use from a squeeze bottle. After caramelization comes burning. Not good. I prefer to ‘catch’ the reduction remove it from the Thermomix just as it begins to thicken and before caramelization.

My go-to recipe for Balsamic vinegar reduction is below, but I hope you play with it — use this as a springboard for making your own “house reduction”.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
This makes a small amount, perfect for first trial. Feel free to increase ingredients and time. I like a ratio of 10:1 or 9:1 (vinegar to sweetener)
Cuisine: Thermomix
Recipe type: Condiments
Ingredients
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) Balsamic vinegar
  • 30 g (1 oz) honey (or white or raw sugar, agave, maple syrup)
  • optional seasoning for infusing: 1-2 cloves garlic cut in half, sprig fresh rosemary, black pepper, Tbsp. port wine, orange zest
Instructions
  1. Put vinegar and honey (or sweetener of choice) (and optional seasoning if desired) into Thermomix and cook for 18 minutes on Varoma/speed 1/ cap off. Check consistency by performing the "spatula test" as described in the notes below. Pour into a decanter, jar or squeeze bottle. (If garlic or rosemary were added, hold these back as you decant the reduction.) Rinse Thermomix immediately as residue in the bowl can become very sticky -- very quickly. (Keep in mind that the reduction will thicken as it cools. A reduction that has caramelized can be hard to extract from a small-mouthed bottle, and a long-necked bottles can be tough to clean.) Keeps on the counter or in the fridge.
Notes
The Spatula Test - After about 15 minutes, dip a spatula, spoon or knife into the reduction to coat. Run a fingertip across the spatula blade and watch to see if it leaves a path or if the vinegar runs back together to coat over the path. We want a clear path to remain (as in photo at right). This indicates that your reduction is done. Don't worry if it still feels liquid because it will thicken when removed from heat. If the reduction is already sticky when doing the fingertip test, your reduction has begun to caramelize so remove it quickly, before it sticks to the Thermomix!

Let us count the ways
Thermomix fans are experts at sharing information for helping and inspiring one another. I know there are more ways to enjoy (and prepare) balsamic reduction. How do you do it?

 

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See 32 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. Jenny January 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    This sounds divine. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for posting and for the beautiful photos.

  2. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Thanks for your comment Jenny… I guess it’s no secret that I’m in love with Balsamic vinegar reduction ;-)

  3. Meagan January 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

    Helene yay :) I have been meaning to covert a recipe to Thermomix but as you know the list of to dos is always long! Thank you I will give this a go :)

  4. Nora January 28, 2012 at 1:14 am #

    ” Yes, sexy. As in tip-of-the-tongue stimulating. As in “deep, dark and musky with a tantalizing edge”. A coming-of-age pleasure for sensual foodies.”
    My god, Helene, you really have a talent with words! Just reading your intro made me want to try this absolutely!

  5. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 28, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    Thanks Nora! And Meagan — I knows whats you mean! Too busy to convert the recipe but it will make itself as you do other things, so get on it! … for me this is a staple ingredient, always on hand. Hope you both like it :)

  6. Mara January 28, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    Oh yes, yes, yes!!! I don’t know about Canada, Australia nor anywhere else in the world but balsamic reduction is SO expensive in Spain that I look away when I stumble upon it in the shop, just in case they want to charge me some 10 euros just for looking at it.

  7. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 28, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    Of course, I think I forgot to say that didn’t I?! Thanks for the reminder Mara… it’s DEFINITELY a savings to make your own!

  8. Bobbi January 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Yes yes yes! Nola. Makes you want to stick your head in and lick the bowl. This is such a simple and luscious recipe with lots of uses. I’ll bet it keeps well too. Life is so much easier with a Thermomix.

  9. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I don’t recommend the head-in-bowl trick because it makes the hair sticky. (This I know.)

  10. InTolerant Chef January 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Just so yummy indeed! Much easier than standing and stirring over the fumes too :)

  11. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Yes, InTolerant Chef, exactly right!

  12. Bill January 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Helene, you are such a love! I remember a first date where my now partner and I enjoyed bacon wrapped dates with an almond in the middle broiled and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. There were five on this plate of tapas and the last one was shared with a kiss. I am not big on this reduction for many things but is it heavenly in the right place.

    Thanks for all you do,

    Bill

  13. ThermomixBlogger Helene January 29, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Thanks for sharing this personal (romantic) story with us Bill. What a lucky partner to have you, and sharing tapas with Balsamic reduction in this manner. On a first date too! Your comment is perfect proof of the seductive quality of this reduction (and suggests at your own seductive powers too, methinks…) ;-)

  14. tenina January 31, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    I have been meaning to do this for AGES…years even, and just never did get around to it…now you pipped me…but great stuff, I can link through to it…
    will use it in a recipe soon I think!
    xx

  15. ThermomixBlogger Helene February 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks Tenina… well, what can I say. “We can’t do it all!” or how about “Maybe you’ve been a tad busy PUBLISHING A COOKBOOK?!!” (Congratulations btw, it’s extremely well done and just what the Thermomix world needed.)

  16. Gert March 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Baguette, butter, balsamic, bliss.

  17. Halex September 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

    Just seen this. THANK YOU. Balsamic glaze is very expensive & I use it regularly. It just adds the extra yum compared to using balsamic vinegar.

  18. Maria March 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    I followed the recipe for balsamic reduction and no matter how long It cooked I could not get it thicken !

  19. ThermomixBlogger Helene March 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Hi Maria — well I’m sorry to hear this! What type of sweetener did you use? I made this recipe again last week, no problem. What happened to your reduction after it cooled? (Sometimes it doesn’t appear to thicken until it has cooled.) If there’s no other explanation, then all I can suggest is that it must have something to do with the quality of your vinegar…

  20. Maria March 8, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    What is the best balsamic to use I tried again and the same thing happened? Even after it cooled it did not thicken not even a bit!

  21. Joanne T Ferguson September 25, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    G’day! As a newbie Helene, true!
    Thanks for inspiring me and will try your recipe with sugarless sugar as use a lot of balsamic vinegar too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  22. jakari December 18, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    Yumyum Helene. I’ve been making this for years (your method) and it never fails. I use Coles brand (Australia) balsamic (from Moderna, Italy) and it has proven to be better than some expensive brands.
    Some versions that are popular here are:
    1. garlic+rosemary+peppercorn+maple syrup – delish brushed onto lamb before roasting or to deglase and make a simple jus for chops or steak;
    2. garlic + brown sugar – add to a bowl of EVOO and dip in ciabatta (also very good if then dipped into dukkah)
    3. add reduction to soy sauce based marinades
    Tip: the bowl cleans easily if you pour in boiling water from a kettle immediately after decanting the brew.
    I’m going to experiment using sugars like rice syrup and coconut syrup. And also with white balsamic! Anything unami is good.
    Cheers

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