The distinctive bold and complex flavors of balsamic vinegar enhance and compliment a variety of foods with many delicious and healthful ways to enjoy it. As an ingredient, condiment and elixir it adds, enhances, elevates and compliments the flavors of so many other ingredients with only a drizzle or a few drops. Over the years the legend of balsamico has grown and its distinctive bold and complex flavors are more accessible than ever to both professional and homestyle cooks.
Once only found in Italian kitchens, a good balsamic vinegar is much more available and you need not shy away from it. Most of us think of balsamic vinegar as Italian food royalty and while it’s true that in the pantheon of Italian food products Aceto Balsamico from Modena stands above all others, you should not feel intimidated to use it on a daily basis and you'll be happy to know that despite its elevated position aceto balsamico rarely spoils and will keep indefinitely if stored properly. On June 28,1995 the Consortium of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena opened a bottle of "Balsamico brusco”, dated 1785. It was declared to be in “a perfect state of conservation and intensely aromatic".
Balsamic vinegar lasts for a long period of time and generally doesn't go bad. A good balsamic vinegar should keep its quality for 5+ years from the date it was bottled, possibly much longer. The better the balsamic the longer it will retain its sightly acetic taste, delicate aroma and bitter-sweet balanced flavor. All highly desirable in a good quality balsamic. Basically it will never expire when stored under the proper conditions. Lesser quality grocery store balsamic vinegars, on the other hand, will likely retain flavor for only two to three years.
How to Store Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to best preserve the complexity of its flavors. Do not refrigerate. Cold can alter the flavor. Although the color may
darken slightly and solids may precipitate out, this is normal and does not indicate spoilage. A change in color, the formation of sediment, or cloudy developments are only aesthetic differences and don't actually alter the taste of the vinegar. Do not leave the bottle open. Store it at room temperature away from perfumes or substances with pronounced odors.
Buying a bottle of balsamic is like entering into a long term relationship; choose carefully and it will be money well spent.
Read More about the making, tasting and traditions of Balsamic Vinegar.