How To Make A Balsamic Reduction + Peaches & Cream Dessert

74 comments

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Since we’re on the topic of our fears this month, let’s talk about culinary fears. Most of us have a few – those dishes or techniques we’ve been wanting to try in our own kitchen, but haven’t found the nerve. Maybe it’s a pie from scratch, a fresh loaf of homemade bread, or learning how to pipe a cake… sometimes it seems too daunting to even bother.

One of my culinary fears has always been making a balsamic reduction. A balsamic reduction (also referred to as balsamic glaze or syrup) involves cooking down or reducing balsamic vinegar until it thickens into a lovely glaze or syrup. As it cooks down, the vinegar becomes lightly sweet (but still has a nice bite!) without the harsh acidity that can overpower a dish.

I’ve heard so many horror stories of people scorching the vinegar in the pot when trying to reduce, I figured there was some crazy method to it that would likely drive me insane. But deep in the back of my mind, I knew I always wanted to give it a shot. I fell in love with balsamic glaze at a restaurant many years ago and it’s always been something I wanted to incorporate into my own meals. Plus, have you ever had it drizzled over strawberries? It’s just about the best thing in the world!!

Next, to this dessert of course…

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The best part of this little adventure was finding out just how easy it is to make. Maybe it was beginner’s luck and I’m due for my horror story another day (probably), but this was a breeze to make. Read on for my tips and tricks.

How To Make a Balsamic Reduction:

Print, Email, or Text this recipe + Peaches n cream dessert

1. Add 1 cup balsamic vinegar into a medium-sized non-stick pot/sauce pan. Or use whatever amount you desire, keeping in mind you will reduce the volume by 2/3-3/4.

2. Bring the vinegar to a simmer/low boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low-medium. I left it on heat setting 3 for most of the time to be careful. Stir. Some people also add a tiny bit of sugar at this stage, but I didn’t bother and was still very pleased with the final taste. I think it will depend on the quality of vinegar that you use. I was using a good-quality organic balsamic, so maybe that helped with overall taste.

3. Here’s the tricky part. You have to keep an eye on it for the entire time, stirring every few minutes or so. This was difficult for me because I’m always doing a million things at once and often responding to email/comments on the laptop when I have down time in the kitchen. Using 1 cup vinegar and cooking it on low, it took me almost 40 minutes to reduce (edited to add: my second trial took me just under 20 minutes! I increased the heat to medium the entire time). When it’s as thick as you want it, feel free to stop! I was going for a super thick syrup-y texture.

4. Every few minutes, give the mixture a gentle stir. After about 20-25 minutes, I was convinced this vinegar was not going to thicken, but lo and behold it did ever so gradually.

5. After the better part of 40 minutes, my vinegar reduced about 2/3-3/4 in volume! Whohoo. I started with 1 cup and I was left with about 5-6 tablespoons or sweet, thick balsamic reduction goodness. Oh my gosh it is sooooo good. Make sure to keep a very watchful eye on it during the last 10 minutes. From what I read, things can quickly go from good to horrible if left unattended for even a minute…

Once you’ve made it you can drizzle it on just about anything. Salads, grilled veggies, and seasonal fruit are especially fun this time of the year. Or try dipping a fresh baguette into oil and vinegar…that’s always a good idea!

Store it in the fridge, keeping in mind that it will harden slightly when chilled. Allow it to come to room temperature before using.

As for next time, I might try cooking it at a slightly higher heat to reduce the cooking time, but I still think the key to my success was a low, consistent heat & watchful eye.

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I am a proud mama of some damn good balsamic syrup.

And let me tell you, I could not wait to make this dessert.

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Peaches & “Cream” with Homemade Balsamic Reduction

What you’ll need:

  • Non-dairy ice cream (I used Vanilla Almond Dream ice cream…love!)
  • Fresh, chopped peaches
  • Chopped pecans or other nuts
  • Homemade balsamic reduction (see above)

 

Add a scoop or two of ice cream in a parfait glass, followed by chopped peaches and pecans. Now drizzle on some balsamic reduction and enjoy a “fancy” summer dessert.

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Chocolate sauce < balsamic reduction

There I said it.

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristina August 14, 2012

Balsamic reductions scare me too! I really didn’t know it took that long — I’ve always been paranoid about scorching it too… And then it barely reduces! Haha Thanks for the tips!

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2 Sarah L. August 14, 2012

Looks delicious, Angela! Can’t wait to attempt it! Btw, which brand of balsamic vinegar did you use?

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3 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

Hey Sarah, I used Spectrum Naturals brand. I also love Acetaia La Bonissima brand and will try that next.

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4 The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh August 14, 2012

I have way too many culinary fears. I’m GOING to conquer yeast stuff (cinnamon rolls, breads, etc) by the end of year. Um, it’s mid-August. I suppose I’d better get on that eh?

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5 Alex @ Brain, Body, Because August 14, 2012

I finally conquered that fear last winter and it was way easier than I had thought. Go for it!

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6 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

I agree, it is easier than you think!
Also, fall is approaching so what better time to try it out as the weather gets cooler.

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7 Erica { EricaDHouse.com } August 14, 2012

I am going to make this in massive quantities and put it on everything! I’ve only had it in restaurants on salads and hummus but it is always divine.

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8 Alex @ Brain, Body, Because August 14, 2012

Great recipe; thanks so much for sharing. Reduced balsamic tastes good on everything!

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9 alua August 14, 2012

I kind of want to come over for dessert at your house right now…

Looks so fab!

Wonder if using something like raspberry balsamic vinegar would make it even more scrumptious?

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10 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

I can’t see why not! I also want to infuse a reduction at some point…I hear you can do it with many things.

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11 DB-The Foodie Stuntman August 14, 2012

Hmmm…I was recently given a very expensive bottle of balsamic and have been debating how to use it. Thank you for the suggestion and the tutorial because I wasn’t sure how to reduce properly but I think I might try with the regular stuff I get at the grocery store first. hahaha

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12 Rosalie August 14, 2012

Definitely one of those things on my cooking bucket list! I have an inordinate number of the presidents choice balsamic glaze squeeze bottles (they were 50% off ha) but I might make this shortly just for a taste comparison.

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13 Averie @ Averie Cooks August 14, 2012

Okay when I make balsamic reduction and this is how I have my recipe posted, I literally combine 1/2 cup balsamic with about 3 tbsp brown sugar, bring to a med-high boil, watch it like a hawk for about 4-6 mins, or until it’s sufficiently thick, pour it into a container and let it cool, and it will continue to thicken. And I’m done! In definitely less than 10 mins. Which is why I never understood the rage for the new TJs balsamic reduction squirt bottle condiment (I know you dont have TJs in Canada anyway) but ounce for ounce, making your own is so much better, isn’t it! Yours has me craving it now!

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14 Brandi September 13, 2012

I agree! It thickens after you remove it from the heat some. I just made and posted on my blog an amazing sweet and spicy balsamic sauce with chili powder,oregano, coconut sugar and olive oil and cooked it about 10 or so mins and then drizzled it over sweet potatoes, zucchini, spinach and avocado salad! It was about the best dish I’ve ever created! Friends and family raved! Vegetarian blogs featured it as well. Balsamic is AMAZING and versatile! Yours looks amazing Angela over the fruit! Yummy!!

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15 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! August 14, 2012

Balsamic vinegar is one of my all time favorite ingredients! It is so versatile and adds such depth and flavor to…..EVERYTHING!

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16 Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy August 14, 2012

Oh wow – this looks great. Definitely giving it a go!

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17 Erika August 14, 2012

Oh my gosh this sounds amazing. But 5-6 tablespoons out of 1 cup?? That is a LOT of effort for a teensy amount of product…I’m sure it’s quality though :)

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18 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

Yea, I know what you mean, but a tiny bit goes a LONG way! Plus, if you don’t want to cook it down as much you can only reduce it by half or what not. The ball is in your court!

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19 Erika August 22, 2012

That’s a good point! Also–I made it last night!! But I think I reduced it too much–it was incredibly thick and almost tar-like. It take about five minutes of tilting the container upside down to get my balsamic sludge to go anywhere!! If you have any tips on how I can potentially salvage it, I would so greatly appreciate it :) (Do I heat it up again? Add water? Add milk? Toss it?)

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20 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 22, 2012

Hmm I’m not sure it can be saved if it’s reduced too much? I would try googling it and see if anyone else has experienced that. Goodluck!

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21 Erika August 23, 2012

I googled and ended up adding a dash of water and microwaving for a few seconds. It thinned out a lot, but was still drizzle-able and it was great! Thanks :))

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22 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 14, 2012

Mmmm Ange, this is beautiful! I made a very similar creation with a balsamic reduction last week, and you’re right – it’s definitely not difficult to do! A few of my kitchen fears: bread making (although I’ve tried and did have a bit of success), and cooking a whole turkey (I always feel like if I try, it’ll end up either raw inside or dry as a bone). Maybe I’ll work up the nerve by Thanksgiving! ;)

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23 DessertForTwo August 14, 2012

Delicious! I would love this with raspberries or peaches! Thanks for sharing :)

My culinary fear is yeast. Baaaaaad.

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24 Andrea @ Vegvacious August 14, 2012

That dessert looks scrumptious!!! I have only tried to reduce balsamic vinegar once and it never really thickened up. Knowing myself well, I assume I didn’t cook it long enough as patience is a virtue that I could use more of ;-)

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25 Joanna August 14, 2012

Love the How To’s. Keep them coming.

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26 Niki @ Maple Leaf Miles August 14, 2012

Oh Yum! I’ve been addicted to the amazing Ontario peaches that have been out lately, I’ve always been so focused on Ontario strawberries that I somehow managed to forget how amazing the peaches are too! I can’t wait to try this reduction on them!

How do you manage to chop your peaches so nicely? Mine always come out attached to the pit and smooshed! :)

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27 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

They are at their peak right now…sooo yummy! Not sure about the chopping…must have lucked out because they are usually not as uniform. ;)

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28 Wynne August 14, 2012

I never thought about trying this, but now I’m feeling inspired–thanks!

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29 char eats greens August 14, 2012

I can’t say that I’m in love with almond milk ice-cream…sad to say!! I just enjoy coconut milk ice-cream so much more. You can have the lingering almond milk ice-cream from my freezer though! Especially if you bring the glaze over!

I tried making a balsamic glaze for the first time last year, but you’re so much more creative than me; I would use the glaze to add to salad dishes. I think ice-cream with peaches sounds like a new addition the family.

Although, I don’t even think I have balsamic vinegar in my house right now (who am I?!), so that would be the first step. No kitchen is complete without it!

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30 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

I will gladly use up your reserve of almond ice cream in exchange for some balsamic syrup! ;)

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31 Beth @ Tasty Yummies August 14, 2012

YUM! I LOVE balsamic reductions on fruit. Such a perfect marriage. I am with you, I almost never bother adding sugar to mine, either. So good just on it’s own especially with berries!

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32 Christa @ Edible Balance August 14, 2012

I am the exact same way! Even if I have one pot going for dinner, I’ll have more for making breakfasts, lunches ahead of time! Such a great way to be mindful of what you are cooking/creating to be focusing on one thing. It looks absolutely delicious and worth every moment of your watchful eye! :)

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33 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table August 14, 2012

Balsamic reductions are so decadent. I do a chickpea salad with a cherry-balsamic reduction that I think could be classified as dessert. For sure no sugar needed!

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34 Lisa @ the raw serenity August 14, 2012

Good on you!
I haven’t tried this before so I’m very eager to do it now!
My kitchen fear was saukraut. And it didn’t turn out well. The smell was unbearable! But I’m glad I still tried to make it :)

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35 Dara August 14, 2012

looks good! does the calorie count change after reduction?

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36 Dara August 14, 2012

meaning does the 5-6 T of reduced balm vine have the same amount of 5 -6 T of non-reduced??

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37 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

I would imagine the calories are a bit more concentrated when cooked down? Not sure though!

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38 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy August 14, 2012

oh my gosh that looks so good! it’s like the perfect summer dessert!

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39 Alex @ Healthy Life Happy Wife August 14, 2012

Thank you for posting instructions on how to make a balsamic reduction! Every time I’ve tried to make it, it has been a disaster! Excited to try it with your directions!!

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40 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

Goodluck next time you try it out! Let me know how it goes.

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41 kim@hungryhealthygirl August 14, 2012

That last picture just looks absolutely awesome! I’ve been obsessed with peaches all summer.

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42 Saguna August 14, 2012

I love balsamic and fruit- such a perfect flavour balance. It looks amazing with peaches and cream! Last week I made a blueberry cheesecake with a balsamic reduction and I ended up using the leftover syrup on toast and pancakes because it was so darn tasty. So true about the chocolate sauce, by the way. :)

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43 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 14, 2012

That is a great idea. I can’t think of anything it wouldnt be good with…

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44 Kendra August 14, 2012

That dessert looks fabulous!! I don’t think I have ever made a balsamic reduction either, but I can imagine that it would go perfectly with peaches and ice cream:)

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45 Sara @ The Cozy Herbivore August 14, 2012

Ooooh, girl, low and slow for the win. That’s always the way to approach reductions, and this one looks absolutely gorgeous! Love the pairing of peaches and balsamic– what a lovely summer dish!

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46 Jillian August 14, 2012

This looks lovely! I am obsessed with peaches and have an enduring love for them with balsamic vinegar over salad. This sounds like a great sweeter combination!

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47 katie@ KatieDid August 14, 2012

For some reason it took me 30 minutes of reducing it to get a thick syrup… not worth the wait all the time, but a nice treat for sure! I love it on sweets or over pizza or something savory as well.

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48 LaurBucks August 14, 2012

Hi Angela–
Where did you buy your orange spoons?!!

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49 Mish @ Mish's Kithen August 14, 2012

That looks so interesting. I love LOVE balsamic reductions. You can buy it, and it’s awesome through salads, especially with strawberries. But with ice cream…sounds interesting.

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50 Gloria August 14, 2012

There is a local specialty shop where I live that sells a chocolate balsamic vinegar. It’s phenomenal over poundcake with mixed berries. I bet you can order a similar variety through the internet. Then you can reduce it and avoid having to choose between chocolate sauce and balsamic reduction! Such epic life decisions are best left untouched ;)

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51 marie August 14, 2012

If anyone is in Southern Arizona (or has internet access for that matter) go to Bisbee, find this olive oil shop called Bisbee Olive Oil. 30 flavors (infused) of EVOO and balsamic vinegar that will blow your socks off. The Strawberry and Peach vinegar is to die for…. Raspberry too! Those vinegars would be perfect in a reduction, though they’re AMAZING on their own.

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52 Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit August 14, 2012

Greater than chocolate? Them some strong words!!

Now you have me trying to figure out what my culinary fears are. I’ll try anything in the kitchen… except vegan coconut flour recipes. I tried it once and I went insane. Nothing worked so I never tried it again.

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53 megan @ whatmegansmaking August 15, 2012

I’ve never made balsamic reduction before but it sounds so simple! Thanks for the mini lesson :)

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54 Suz @ avocadoandbasil August 15, 2012

This looks so good, I’ll definitely give it a go, thanks!

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55 B @ Crags and Veggies August 15, 2012

MMMM, I love balsamic on everything!

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56 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 15, 2012

I’ve made a semi-balsamic reduction before, but I think I reduced it for probably only 10 minutes. I bet yours with a longer reduction time was amazing! One of these days I really need to try this – along with about a billion other things on my cooking bucket list!

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57 Olya August 15, 2012

You’ve got me with your Bals.Red.! While reading, I grew from zero interest up to irresistible urge to run from my office to a kitchen to try it! Thanks for throwing it on us :) I am definitely going to try it..

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58 Ariel @ WestWithFlight August 15, 2012

Hmmm. Should I feel proud of myself that I’ve done a balsamic reduction with neither fear nor failure? You can get good results at a higher heat, you do just have to keep an eye on it — I usually do a higher heat at first to speed things up, and then lower for the last 15+ minutes.

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59 Rachel August 15, 2012

I’ve never tried doing this before, but I might have to cause I LOVE anything chocolate and apparently this is better haha

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60 Amber from Slim Pickin's Kitchen August 15, 2012

Balsamic reductions have always come easy to me! I’ve never had a problem making it. Now, a pot of rice on the other hand?!? Yeah…not so much. I’m a poor southern soul who can’t cook a pot of rice to save my life. I *have* to have a rice cooker…and sometimes I even screw that up!

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61 Sonal August 15, 2012

I’ve never heard of balsamic vinegar reduction and cannot imagine balsamic vinegar being a sweet syrup! But that dessert looks gooood so i might just try this new phenomenon ;)

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62 Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See August 15, 2012

I absolutely adore balsamic vinegar, but I’m never willing to splurge on a $50 bottle. This sounds like the perfect solution :)

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63 michelle August 15, 2012

I do a balsamic reduction at least every 2 weeks but do it a little differently. First off I have no problem using the cheaper brands as I find that it doesn’t make much of a difference once the sugars come together and thicken. I like to do 2 bottles at once and reduce in a small pot for close to 1 1/2 hrs with virtually no stirring. Once it’s thick on my wooden spoon, I let it cool and then jar it and refrigerate for at least a month. I’ve not dared to try it in dessert yet so I think that’s next.

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64 Tricia August 16, 2012

I really like your website. I just found out that I have several food allergies /intolerances. They include beef, milk, chicken and peanuts. I’m overwhelmed. Ive been a big dairy, meat & nut consumer my whole life. Any suggestions for a overwhelmed newbie to a more vegan lifestyle?

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65 Leah August 16, 2012

Wow. So excited to try this. Do you think it would work in the slow-cooker? If I put it on a low temp for a while?

I’m thinking it would go great with the almond-milk pistachio ice cream I’m planning to make next week :-)

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66 Angela (Oh She Glows) August 17, 2012

Im not sure, if you did you’d have to stir it frequently I’d think :)

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67 Marilyn @ Lipgloss and Spandex August 18, 2012

I loooove balsamic reduction! So much flavor but not too many calories :) Although my favorite way to eat it is to mix the reduction with some butter, and then toss with some pasta. HEAVENLY.

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68 Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset August 19, 2012

That’s crazy how much it looks like chocolate syrup! Not sure I can wrap my head around the idea of balsamic on desserts though…Guess I can’t knock it till I try it! :P

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69 Moni Meals August 20, 2012

Thank you for this! I love love love balsamic reduction and I do not Make it nearly enough. Great post and recipe!

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70 Whitney "To Live and Diet in L.A." August 21, 2012

I just made a Peaches & Cream recipe and blogged about it today! I used balsamic too but didn’t make a reduction…definitely trying it next time. Looks fabulous!

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71 Monique August 27, 2012

There are so many posts that I did not read them all. But, balsamic reduction is very easy. The most important thing is to make sure you have real balsamic and not white vinegar colored with grape juice. Check the ingredient list. The best I’ve found is the costco brand balsamic. I will reduce an entire bottle at once. Just put it in a pot, turn on the heat and let it works its magic. You don’t have to stir or do anything else. However, you want to have windows open or the fan on high. The fumes are intense. I use a wooden skewer to measure how deep the vinegar is then use that as my gauge for how much it’s reduced. You can do it on low heat but I tend to turn it up to speed up the process. Nothing scary here!

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72 Molly September 2, 2012

I just made my first balsamic reduction the other day and, yep, I felt awfully accomplished. I’m also pretty sure I’m going to start putting it on everything ever. I think it might make even make a shoe taste good.

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73 Angela (Oh She Glows) September 3, 2012

congrats!

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74 Amie May 24, 2013

If you like the regular balsamic reduction on ice cream with peaches, there is a place to get peach flavored white balsamic. http://www.heavenlyoliveoils.com

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