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09/29/10 01:53 PM  
Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
I started to make my own interpretation of balsamic vinegar a few months back, but I don't know all the details of it other than what I see and read. I don't know things like original and final gravities, or how it should taste midway through.

It's sitting in my garage, having finished primary, but I haven't yet hit it with a vinegar mother to start that process in earnest. This is because I didn't know what to think of the current result, and this is a good place to pause and see if I need to fix anything.

The caramelized must had an OG of around 100 points, and it has gone down to 50 points. I would consider that stalled, but this is heavily caramelized. I did hit with a lambic mix as well as champagne yeast just to make sure I had hit the wall. I hear balsamic vinegar is sweet anyways. So is this about right?

Beyond that I think I may have overcaramelized it since I'm on that thin line right before something becomes burnt. I basically reduced it until it started crawling up the pot again, and then I let that run until it attempted to boil over. At that point I didn't have the capacity to caramelize further anyways so I called it there. I am assuming over time, and with some wood in secondary, that aspect of the flavor will fade away and perhaps even add body. I'll probably make it anyways since I'm committed but I wonder if I should have low expectations.

09/29/10 04:18 PM  
Re: Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
balsamic, from what i know of the process, is produced by reducing the must of trebbiano gapes down to a 1/3 of the original volume

then the must is allowd to ferment and acidify with a mixed culture of yeast/aceto/etc in barrels

Then each year a portion of the barrel is removed and placed into an older smaller barrel, until the final aging process is completed and there is an extremely thick syrupy product remaining

the grapes are actually a white variety and all the color comes from the barrels, of which chestnut, cherry, acacia, etc are used in the aging process (min 10yrs for a traditional balsamic)

as far as the starting OG, I would guess that it would be equivalent to what you see in a wine kit pre-dilution, as many come as 2gal concentrates that you dilute to 6gal

Ive thought of doing this myself, but both the extended aging and need for various charred woods has hampered my progress (laziness) Im glad someone else is going for it, and I would very much like to hear how things go for you

Couple questions

1 - what did you use for a base?

2 - why the lambic culture?

09/30/10 12:15 AM  
Re: Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
Yes that's the process to do it formally, but of course I'm trying to cut some corners for a first pass. I'm just using commercial white grape juice concentrate. Jack Keller has some starter white wine recipes that uses Welch's Niagra Grape Juice Concentrate, and it turns out to work surprisingly well. Since it was concentrated already, I just started boiling it.

Since it's spontaneously fermented, I went with a lambic culture to get a big pile of wild critters. Beyond that I have some vinegar mother to throw on top of it. However, I'd prefer not to throw that in until I know fairly safely I've gotten near the expected FG. As of right now it's still very sweet, considering it went, say, 100 points to 50 points. The FG is the OG of a lot of normal beer.

09/30/10 01:31 AM  
Re: Technical characteristics of a balsamic vinega
Honestly I dunno about adding the lambic culture, vinegar is made my aceto when they combine alcohol with oxygen to produce acetic acid, so what ever you do you would want a lot of alc in there, some of the sweetness also comes from the angels share,

over 10yrs a lot of water will evaporate concentrating the sugars in the remaining liquid a bit, with that high of an OG your fighting the osmotic pressure of the liquid will make it tough for the bugs to live in it

also, just so you know for the future, you can buy either frozen trebbiano grapes or a trebbiano wine kit to do the same thing

I understand about the first pass and doing it on the cheap, lets you learn some things and what to avoid, goo luck whatever you do!

10/04/10 01:15 AM  
Re: Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
The lambic blend was based on the apparently spontaneous fermentation process the real balsamic vinegar apparently uses. So I wanted to get a nice pile of random stuff running around in there.

I managed to try some real balsamic vinegar today and I think I'm pretty close on the sweetness side. I have to get a good acetobacteria culture in there, but I think I'll wind up in the ballpark. If it's too sweet I may dilute.

What I thought interesting about the real stuff is it smells like any old vinegar up front but it tastes much more gentle and complex.

10/05/10 11:22 AM  
Re: Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
I LOVE real balsamic vinegar. Ever try it on ice cream? ;)

I don't remember where, but I think I read somewhere that your base beer/wine whatever for vinegar should be about 5% abv to get the proper acidity in the finished product. I wish I remember where though.

I'm very interested in how this turns out. Good luck

Rob B
10/05/10 12:18 PM  
Re: Technical characteristics of balsamic vinegar?
I made a malt vinegar with a 7% braggot that is coming along nicely...I should probably bottle it along with some liqueurs I have aging.
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