Article

Apple balsamic

Categories: Product of the week

A unique condiment whose creation was inspired by feedback from Borough Market customers

“The idea for this product came from listening to my customers,” says Ewa from Bianca Mora, standing behind a counter brimming with a cornucopia of cheese and charcuterie. “We sell a wonderful balsamic vinegar that has been aged for six years, which is very popular, but I would hear some customers saying that they found it a bit too intense and sweet. So, I started thinking if there was anything that we could do about that.”

Such ponderings usually drift off into the realm of ‘maybe one day’, but luckily for Borough Market customers, Ewa did not allow that to happen. “We work very closely with a factory in Modena that makes our balsamic vinegar to our specifications, and we have a great relationship with them,” she explains. “We had a chat to see if we could do something. One of the ideas that came to mind was making our own apple balsamic. I thought that the sour notes of apple would counteract the sweetness and intensity that some people were finding a bit too much.”

Depth of flavour
Most commercial ‘apple balsamic vinegars’ are produced using wine vinegar as the base, caramel to approximate the sweetness of the balsamic, and then a series of flavourings for the apple notes—despite their name, they contain little if any balsamic vinegar. Ewa did not want to go down that route. “We wanted a product that was a bit lighter in texture and not as sweet, but which by having our wonderful six-year-old balsamic vinegar as its base, retained that real depth of flavour. So, I got in touch with the guys in Modena and had a conversation with them about what would be possible.”

Together, they decided to experiment with blending six-year-old balsamic vinegar and apple juice—and nothing else. “All we needed to do was decide on the mouthfeel and taste profile we wanted for the final product and then choose what apples to use.” Through a series of experiments and tastings, which involved a series of apples juices being sent to Ewa for evaluation, they settled on a blend of apples. “After that, it was simply a case of deciding on the right proportion of balsamic vinegar to apple juice. The guy in the factory would try a few different mixtures until he arrived at something that he thought was going in the right direction, then would send them over to me for assessment. I would provide my comments and he would make further adjustments. We did this until we arrived at the recipe—and that is what is on the shelves today. It was actually very quick, because these guys are real artisans.”

A unique condiment
The result is a truly unique condiment. “We deliberately called it an ‘apple balsamic’, not an ‘apple balsamic vinegar’, because we believe that this is a completely new product. Because this is lighter, it can work in dishes like salads, vegetables and even fish dishes, where a traditional balsamic vinegar would be a bit overpowering,” Ewa says. It needs to be stored in a dark cupboard, not in the fridge—if it gets too cold, it will thicken, losing some of the lightness that she and her Italian collaborators worked so hard to achieve. She also explains that, over time, the colour will become a little bit deeper because of the absence of preservatives and stabilisers, but this has no impact on the quality of the product.

The apple balsamic has been sitting proudly on the Bianca Mora stall for several months, gathering converts by the week. “I love the fact that people are enjoying it,” says Ewa. “I also love the fact that it is a truly Borough Market product—the idea was conceived here, developed for here and is now on our shelves, giving Borough customers something that you can’t get from anyone else.”