Is balsamic vinegar gluten free
Sadly it one of them things you are going to have to check everytime you buy some so the answer is Yes..and maybe no.
True balsamic vinegar is made in the Modena Region of Italy, and should state that on the bottle. Otherwise it is just an imitation – an artificially flavored vinegar.
There are three types of balsamic vinegars:
The Traditional version is the most expensive (ranging from $100/100ml) and is made with a 100% concentration of grape must (extract), it contains no additives of any kind, and is therefore gluten free. It must be aged for either 12 years or 25 years, and can be found at specialty Italian grocery stores, or online.
The inexpensive Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is what you’ll find at your local grocery store, although among brands you will find a wide range in prices, due to number of factors.
» Aging – the best will be aged a minimum of least 2 years, while others will not be aged at all.
» Concentration – some will contain only 20% grape must, with the remaining volume made up of another wine vinegar.
» Additives – coloring, caramel, guar gum, or corn flour is usually added to the least expensive brands of balsamic vinegar to artificially simulate the sweetness and thickness that is naturally created from the lengthly aging process of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. It is these colorings and caramel flavorings in the lowest quality of balsamic vinegars which may or may not contain gluten, so always be sure to check the label.
The commercial-grade balsamic vinegar are not made from grapes at all, and will be found at all grocery stores. They are made from a mixture of wine vinegar, sugar, water, preservatives, caramel, and flavorings – and will definitely not have been made in Italy. Gluten may or may not be present in these colorings and flavorings, so be sure to check the label. There are no standards or controls in making this grade of balsamic vinegar, which is why it is by far the cheapest.
For the little balsamic that you will use, I think spend a bit of money to get one that is at least authentic. Traditional balsamic is most likely out of your price range, especially for a condiment, so when choosing one of the less expensive Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, buy the best you can afford (and make sure ‘Product of Italy’ is clearly stated on the bottle). This is definitely a case of where the more money you spend, the better quality product you will get.So what should you buy?
Crema di Balsico is balsamic vinegar that has been reduced until it is thick and syrupy. It is used as a finishing sauce to drizzle over dishes like pizza, appetizers and even strawberries or ice cream. Save yourself some money (and potential gluten contamination if it was made from uncontrolled sources/processes), and make your own: In a small non-reactive saucepan, boil 1 cup of balsamic vinegar until it is reduced to 1/4 cup and becomes thick and syrupy. It will keep indefinitely stored in a sealed jar in the fridge.