Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is subject to the aging process which gives to the final a product that unequal taste hard to find in other products. Time is the most important ingredient.
Indeed, once fermented and acidified, the product begins to mature and aging, two phases characterized by the effect of enzymes dispersed in the liquid by the autolysis of microorganisms. Enzymes catalyse chemical-physical processes that produce more and more complex flavours and scents. In addition to this, during the years of maturation and aging, the traditional balsamic vinegar undergoes to a continuous concentration, due to the loss of aqueous volume by evaporation.
Indeed, aging is first linked to the time that balsamic vinegar spends inside the various barrels defined as “age” or “residence time”, but also to all the time dependent changes in chemical, physical and sensory properties of traditional balsamic vinegar.
The maturation phase lasts for about ten years: summed up with the two years required for the fermentation and acetification of the starting product, this justifies the 12 years required as a minimum requirement for the definition of ABTM (Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena). The 25 years required for the old product are instead arbitrarily defined, as enzymatic and oxidative processes have practically no end, lasting for centuries. To allow the continuous exchange of oxygen, it is essential that ABTM should be stored and aged in substantially open containers: wood plays this fundamental role, as it is a material which allows the air passage.
The wooden barrell set is necessarily located in a place that is affected by thermal excursions between day and night, but even more between summer and winter. conversely, the cold winter is needed to slow down the evaporative process. And even today, barrels are located in the attic of the houses, so they expose aging vinegar both to the stiff winters and to the emilian summers.
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