Italy has a rich and strong tradition in bakery products. Every region and every single village has been contributing to the Italian gastronomic heritage with their traditional bakery recipes.
Vinegar is an important part of Italian culinary tradition: Italian ancestors exploited all its virtues as food, drink, aroma, antiseptic, sanitizer and they also invented the balsamic vinegar, Italian excellences from the Region of Emilia-Romagna, now protected by the PDO/IGP seals – namely: Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO. Today, following the ancient tradition, vinegars are used as healthy and light ingredients to season salads, to give more taste and aroma to dishes but also to clean vegetables. Vinegars’ uses are as varied as their origin: in fact, vinegars can be obtained from wine and grape must but also from apples.
Vinegar is part of mankind history: mentioned in the Bible, some residues of wine vinegar were found in a 10.000 years – old vase in Egypt, known and used by Babylonians and Persians to preserve food. Thanks to the vinegar food could be transported on long journeys and, mixing it with water, farmers and travellers were allowed to quench the thirst. Hippocrates, the Greek “father of medicine”, prescribed it to treat wounds, sores and respiratory diseases. Acetabulum – a bowl containing vinegar – was always present at Roman banquets to soak small pieces of bread during the meal, favouring digestion. Plinius the Elder recommends vinegar in his Naturalis Historia to treat several conditions. Only in 1864, the French biologist Pasteur discovered and scientifically described how the acidification process starts and works, namely thanks to “mycoderma aceti” a bacterium that ignites the transformation from ethylic alcohol into vinegar, later named “Acetobacter”. Since then, vinegar production – besides millennial empiric heritage – is founded on solid scientific bases. Through the centuries Italians made this product an excellence, inventing balsamic vinegar, now protected by the PDO/IGP seal. The history of Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia are described in the section of PDO/PGI condiments.
The wine vinegar production process shares its first stages with wine: from white and red grapes press we obtain grape must (or juice) that thought alcoholic fermentation becomes wine. The following acetic fermentation transforms wine into vinegar. Vinegar production starts with the choice of wines that preferably are dry. Temperature during the process must be kept within 31-33°C/88-91°F because also small temperature differences can compromise the fermentation. Careful and expert phases of clarification, filtering and dilution allow to obtain the desired product. Final touch is given by ripening and maturation that can last from few months to one year in precious wooden casks. The fundamental difference between wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar is the raw material: for wine vinegar is wine, for balsamic vinegar is grape must. Production phases of Italian PDO and PGI balsamic vinegars are described in the Aceto Balsamico di Modena PGI, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena PDO and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia PDO web pages. Also Apples can be a great raw material to produce vinegar. High quality apples, ripened in full sunlight and high quality cider are the prerequisites to obtain an excellent result trough an attentive acetification process.
Not only strong allies in the kitchen, Italian Wine and Balsamic Vinegars (Modena PGI balsamic vinegar, Modena PDO and Reggio Emilia PDO traditional balsamic vinegars) have endless properties. Wine vinegar contains some phenols derivatives and thanks to vitamins, mineral salts, enzymes and amino acids it improves metabolism by producing digestive enzymes and facilitating the absorption of nutrients. Moreover, wine vinegar quenches the thirst, reduces fever, prevents infections and relieves inflammation. Wine vinegars are ideal for salads, to create sauces like mayonnaise and as key ingredients to enrich many dishes and desserts. Ideal wellbeing ingredient, wine vinegar has just three calories per portion of salad. Apple vinegar has an amber colour, a typically sour but delicate taste, it is ideal for more delicate salads, poultry and pork meat but also with fruit and in dessert’s preparations; it provides a balanced dose of amino acids, vitamins and mineral salts, favouring the vital processes in our body and prevents them from decaying.
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