Balsamic Glazed Fresh Fruit: Drizzled Strawberries and Blackberries With Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

by DerdriuMarriner

Originating in Modena and Reggio Emilia, balsamic vinegar can be used in cooked and fresh dishes. The featured recipe glazes fresh fruits with balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

Aceto balsamico is an Italian phrase translateable into English as balsamic vinegar. The noun aceto means "vinegar." The adjective balsamico means "balsam-like," like balsam," "similar to balsam."

Balsam is the name of a tree scientifically called Populus balsamifera. The first word, the noun populus, references the tree's identity as one of the world's poplars. The second word, the adjective balsamifera, refers to the tree as "balm bearing."

 

Balm is a healing compound. It is intended to give relief to painful, sore muscles.

It may be made from the gum of the balsam poplar, a tree native to North America. Or it may be processed from the gum of the myrrh-related trees in the genus Commiphora, native to Africa and Asia.

 

aromatic incense from resin of myrrh plant (Commiphora sp.)
aromatic incense from resin of myrrh ...

 

In terms of balsamic vinegar, the  reference is to the healing properties of the myrrh tree relatives. Historically, the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula number among those at the forefront of culinary achievements. Italians therefore were acquainted with the medicinal values of balm and its source in trees native to the African and Asian continents. They were aware of the similarly soothing effects of vinegar on food in need of a fresh, healthy, tart taste.

 

traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena aged at least 25 years
traditional balsamic vinegar of Moden...
Torre della Ghirlandina, built from 1179 to 1319, blends Roman and Gothic styles; visible from all directions outside of Modena, the belltower symbolizes the city.
screen by Mimmo Paladino (born Dec 18, 1948) hid scaffolds during renovations Dec 2007-Sept 2011 to Modena's famed belltower
screen by Mimmo Paladino (born Dec 18, 1948) hid scaffolds during renovations Dec 2007-Sept 2011 to Modena's famed belltower

 

The term balsamic vinegar is used to refer to the special vinegar of the Italian peninsular cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

Modena exists as a city and as a municipality. It is called Mòdna in the Modenese dialect of modern Italian. It is thought to trace its etymological origins back to the ancient Latin name Mutina and the even more ancient Etruscan name Muoina.

Modena is found in the southern Po River Valley. It is located in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Within that region, it is situated in the province of Modena.

The ancient city historically is famous for ancient artifacts from its occupation by Villanovans (Villanoviani) from Eastern Europe, Ligurians (Liguri) from Western Europe, Etruscans (Etruschi) possibly from the Near East, Gaulish Boii (Celti Boi) from Central Europe, and Romans (Romani). It is also known for its belltower (Torre della Ghirlandina), cathedral (Duomo di Modena), and town hall (Piazza Grande), all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Additionally, it is recognized as a leading Italian center of car manufacturing and culinary production.

 

 

Reggio Emilia also is a city and municipality in northern Italy. It properly is called Reggio nell’Emilia. It too is found in the Italian region called Emilia-Romagna. Within that region, it is located in the province of Reggio Emilia.

The ancient town is famous as the location at which the Tricolore (“three colors”) was adopted as Italy’s national flag. It also is known for its many churches (chiese) and palaces (palazzi). Additionally, it is renowned worldwide for the production of Lambrusco wines (vini di lambrusco)   and of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano). The latter cheese often may be referred to as Parmesan cheese in the United States of America.

 

Reggio Emilia Town Hall: where Italy's national flag was first adopted, in 1797
Sala del tricolore ("Tricolore's room")
Sala del tricolore ("Tricolore's room")

Ingredients for Balsamic-Glazed Fruit

Here are the ingredients:

 

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 cup blackberries

1 cup blueberries

  • Note: Although blueberries are optional, they provide taste and textural contrasts that are exceptionally enjoyable.

1 pint of vanilla bean ice cream

  • Note: One serving of ice cream is traditionally considered to equal 1/2 cup.                                        One pint of ice cream equals 4 servings while one quart provides 8 servings.

 

Instructions

Here is what needs to be done:

 

1. Combine vinegar and brown sugar in a small saucepan.

  • Over medium heat, stir until sugar is dissolved.

2.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar and sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Remove immediately from burner and allow to cool.

3. Place strawberry slices, blackberries, and blueberries (optional) into a large bowl for serving.

  • Spoon fruit into dessert bowls alongside one scoop of ice cream.
  • Drizzle glaze over both fruit and ice cream or allow drizzling by each diner.

 

balsamic blackberries and strawberries
balsamic blackberries and strawberries

Variations

 

This recipe accommodates great variety. My favorite fruits for balsamic glaze are blackberries and strawberries. But equally delicious are such fresh fruits as apples, bananas, blueberries, figs, melons, oranges, pears, plums, raspberries, and watermelons. Different fruits may be paired together in varying proportions or a single fruit may be highlighted.

Additionally, for an interesting spike in flavor, I occasionally add coarse, freshly ground black pepper, which has a light nuance in the sweet glaze, or fresh minced thyme leaves, which impart a lemony aroma and taste.

 

balsamic compote of blueberries and raspberries with panna cotta
balsamic compote of blueberries and raspberries with panna cotta

Spinoffs

 

Furthermore, balsamic glazed fruits may be incorporated into luscious jams. Or they may be integrated as a topping for panna cotta (Italian: panna, "cream" + cotta, "cooked").

Perhaps the most beloved of spinoff applications of balsamic glazed fruits indeed is the latter, Italy's cooked creamy dessert. The exquisite dessert called panna cotta results from the simmering of cream, gelatin, milk, and sugar. It will react eagerly to the incorporation of fruit. It will respond most enthusiastically to fruits that benefit from prior balsamic glazing.

 

splendid trio of balsamic glaze, ice cream, and strawberries
splendid trio of balsamic glaze, ice cream, and strawberries

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

My special thanks also to Teresa Giudice for generously sharing culinary treasures and family anecdotes in her beautiful cookbook, Skinny Italian.

 

My recipe is a variation of a popular dessert shared by Teresa Giudice, "Fresh Fruit with Beautiful Balsamic Glaze," on page 231 of her excellent Italian cook book, Skinny Italian.

 

vanilla bean ice: black specklings are flavorless seeds, telltale markers confirming that ice cream is natural vanilla
vanilla bean ice: black specklings are flavorless seeds, telltale markers confirming that ice cream is natural vanilla

Image Credits

 

balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera) leaves: Lynden Gerdes/Northeast wetland flora (1995), Public Domain, via USDA NRCS PLANTS Database @ https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=POBA2

aromatic incense from resin of myrrh plant (Commiphora sp.): Nina Aldin Thune (Nina-no), CC BYSA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons @ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Myrrha_substance.jpg

traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena aged at least 25 years: Balsamico1, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:48_aceto_25_a_e_vecch.jpg

screen by Mimmo Paladino (born Dec 18, 1948) hid scaffolds during renovations Dec 2007-Sept 2011 to Modena's famed belltower: Piffy62, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ghirlandina_vestita.jpg

Sala del tricolore ("Tricolore's room"): Paolo da Reggio, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sala_tricolore_reggio.jpg

balsamic strawberries: Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis (Ketzirah & Art and Art), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/wiredwitch/3635795483/

balsamic blackberries and strawberries: Gail (thepinkpeppercorn), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/gail_thepinkpeppercorn/4360756143/

balsamic compote of blueberries and raspberries with panna cotta: stu_spivack, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/279594160/

splendid trio of balsamic glaze, ice cream, and strawberries: Jonny Hunter (jonny.hunter), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnyhunter/524989958/

vanilla bean ice: black specklings are flavorless seeds, telltale markers confirming that ice cream is natural vanilla: a.pasquier, CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/projector/3086700978/

minced fresh variegated lemon thyme leaves (Thymus x citriodorus) offer lemony contrast to balsamic vinegar: Forest & Kim Starr, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starr_070906-8846_Thymus_citriodorus.jpg

 

Sources Consulted

 

DePalma, Gina. Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen. New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2007.

Elbert, Virginie Fowler and George A. Dolci:  The Fabulous Desserts of Italy. New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Giudice, Teresa, with Heather Maclean. Skinny Italian. New York: Hyperion, 2010.

Massa-Langlois, Grace. Grace's Sweet Life: Homemade Desserts from Cannoli, Tiramisu and Panna Cotta to Torte, Pizzelle and Struffoli. Berkeley CA: Ulysses Press, 2012.

Scicolone, Michele. La Dolce Vita: Enjoy Life's Sweet Pleasures with 170 Recipes for Biscotti, Torte, Crostate, Gelati, and Other Italian Desserts. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1993.

Segan, Francine. Dolci: Italy's Sweets. New York:  Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2011.

 

minced fresh variegated lemon thyme leaves (Thymus x citriodorus) offer lemony contrast to balsamic vinegar
minced fresh variegated lemon thyme leaves (Thymus x citriodorus) offer lemony contrast to balsamic vinegar
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It - Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!

Italian recipes by Teresa Giudice with Heather Maclean
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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/02/2022, DerdriuMarriner
 
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