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”.
- 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
- 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.
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?