balsamic reduction

With a couple of weeks to ponder New Year’s resolutions for 2014 – and I’m guessing many of them, (mine included) involve the art of reducing, as in – weight, clutter, shopping, stress, texting, loafing, bad habits – I could go on, but I won’t. So, in the name of reducing, let’s start small – meet balsamic reduction, the drizzle juice from heaven, and by any other name – reduction, sauce, glaze, syrup – tastes as other-worldly. And just like many of my recipes, this too is a method – simmer the vinegar until the desired consistency is reached – the more it simmers the thicker it gets – which is pretty much the case with most things that hang over heat – the simple science of reducing. And when you check out the price for a bottle of store-bought, you will wonder why more of us don’t take reductions into our own hands – well, we do now! And if you’re looking for a quick, oh-so-easy hostess gift, this would be it!

balsamic reduction feature

Keep reducing for a thicker syrup headed for meats and vegetables, or stop at thinner for marinating and spooning over roasts. You can simply reduce the vinegar in its pure state or, as I did, add a sweetener and flavours. Flavour up a couple of jars of this culinary antidote to all things blah and you’ll never be caught with your flavour pants down again! Try adding spice to one batch like star anise or cloves and drizzle over salad, vegetables and fruit; simmer another with hearty herbs like sage, thyme, bay leaves or rosemary and use with any meat, poultry or fish. And the best part, in the refrigerator, it has a shelf life on par with freeze-dried space food – so here’s to making out of this world reductions – and when resolutions for 2015 roll around, yes, you did indeed reduce something!

PS – try this method with various wines and flavoured vinegars – keep in mind that the natural sugar content of the wine or vinegar will affect the amount you’re left with and cooking time.

click here to jump down to the balsamic reduction recipe

balsamic reduction ingredients

1. Assemble the ingredients – the vinegar, rosemary, bay leaf, honey and sticks for gauging where you’re at.

balsamic reduction in pot

2. Put all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, give it a good stir and turn up the heat.

balsamic reduction 1st gauge

3. Using a gauge of some kind – popsicle stick or toothpick, measure the level of the vinegar.

balsamic reduction 1st gauge

4. And set aside to use in comparison to the next measurement in a few minutes.

balsamic reduction 1st gauge

5. Toothpicks work just as well.

balsamic reduction simmering

6. And get simmering.

balsamic reduction 2nd gauge

7. Measure again after 20-30 minutes to see how far it’s come – about 1/2 of the original volume.

balsamic reduction 2-3

8. Keep simmering – you’re almost there.

balsamic reduction/3 sticks

9. And measure again to see that you have about 1/4-1/3 of the amount you started with.

balsamic reduction/3 toothpicks

10. If you were using toothpicks, it would look like this.

balsamic reuction removal

11. Remove the bay leaf and sprig of rosemary – if there are bits, simply strain it through a sieve.

balsamic reduction on spoon

12. On a spoon, you can see the consistency is on par with molasses – perfect!

balsamic reduction drops

13. It drops beautifully for plating gone wild!

balsamic reduction dripping

14. High drizzability.

balsamic reduction bread dipping

15. And dippability – try bread –

balsamic reduction/ apple

16. Or apples.

balsamic reduction feature

17. So there you have it – pour it in a jar and get drizzling – it really does go with just about anything.

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