News of 20.12.23

Balsamic pearls, how to use them in the kitchen


Balsamic pearls are small gelatinous spheres containing Balsamic Vinegar, obtained using the spherification technique.

It is a mechanical process used in molecular cuisine, which exploits the reaction of a liquid to which sodium alginate has been added with a calcium solution. Alginates are food additives obtained from seaweed, which do not alter the flavour of the ingredients and are used in the food industry as thickeners or gelling agents. The reaction between the two ingredients forms a thin layer of gel which gives rise to small spheres, with a liquid content made of Balsamic vinegar or condiment. In this way the liquid does not mix with the other dishes on the plate, but it melts in your mouth. Alternatively, in home preparations, agar agar gelling agent is used which however produces a slightly different result because all the liquid that makes up the sphere is thickened.

Available in different flavours, from classic ones to those flavoured with fruit, truffle or Yuzu and Ponzu, Leonardi Balsamic Pearls represent an innovative, refined and modern way to serve an entirely Italian excellence.

Differences with Balsamic

Even though they are based on grape must, the flagship ingredient of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Balsamic Spheres are a different condiment from the latter.

First of all, they contain some natural additives, ingredients completely excluded in the production of Balsamic Vinegar, both PGI and PDO.

The second difference is in the effect they produce on the flavour of the dish to which they are added. Instead of mixing directly with your food, the flavour of the pearls bursts in your mouth when you bite them. Therefore, they release the flavour in your mouth and not immediately on the plate.

Finally, unlike Balsamic Vinegar, Balsamic pearls have an expiry date. This is because during the spherification process, the acidity is lowered so the final product has a much less pronounced acidity than balsamic vinegar in its classic form. For this reason, it is recommended to keep them in the fridge after opening, where they can last for several months.

How to use them in the kitchen

Just like Balsamic Vinegar, pearls allow an infinite number of combinations, even the most unexpected. The taste is very similar, so you can use them just like the classic balsamic pairings, from appetizers to desserts.

The peculiarity is their shape which reminds that of caviar and offers many decorative opportunities, even on hot dishes, as they resist high temperatures so they can be used to give a touch of balsamic flavour and create an original plating.

Perfect for canapés, finger food and appetizers

Precisely because they recall the caviar, Balsamic pearls can replace this ingredient in the most common preparations requiring its use, for example canapés and appetizers.

Unlike caviar, the ingredients of balsamic pearls are completely vegetal, therefore they represent a good alternative to fish roe in vegan and vegetarian preparations.

Thanks to their decorative properties, they are ideal for preparing inviting creative finger foods or colourful appetizers, such as our risotto wafers with balsamic mayonnaise, perfect for an aperitif or a refined buffet.

Ideal on pasta dishes or risottos

In the same way as Balsamic Vinegar, Balsamic pearls also find an ideal position on all traditional first courses, such as stuffed pasta or handmade egg pasta, or in combination with Parmigiano Reggiano on more traditional risottos.

A divine example of handmade pasta with traditional Modena ingredients and Balsamic pearls? Our balsamic fettuccine with leeks and bacon, a recipe to absolutely try.

Even the most creative first courses with seafood, however, match well with the balsamic notes of the pearls. Try the unusual combination of cooked ham and lemon with the recipe of lemon-scented tagliolini, prepared with our lemon-flavoured balsamic pearls.

Then here is the unusual combination of cooked ham and lemon with another first course based on fresh pasta pairing perfectly with the balsamic notes of the pearls: the recipe of tagliolini with lemon scent, prepared with our lemon flavoured balsamic pearls.

To sublime meat or fish

As mentioned in our article on How to use Balsamic Vinegar, the best pairing seems to be with red meat, pork, raw or cooked fish and seafood. Likewise, balsamic pearls also lend themselves to these combinations. For example, try them, both classic and flavoured, on fish tartare to create dishes both delicious for the palate and appealing for the eyes, such as salmon tartare with citrus scent.

Excellent on desserts, ice creams and cocktails

Balsamic pearls, especially the fruity flavoured kinds, are an excellent resource for unleashing your creativity in the preparation of desserts. Even more than Balsamic Vinegar, they add an original touch without altering the flavours of the individual ingredients. And what's more, they decorate your preparations perfectly. Try them on a ricotta mousse or spoon desserts or use them to decorate frozen yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.

If you want to prepare two impressive desserts, we suggest the recipe of pears with Balsamic Vinegar and chocolate and that of Bavarian cream with yoghurt and strawberries with raspberry pearls. Get ready to amaze your guests!

And why not try balsamic pearls in cocktails? Balsamic is widely used in cocktails but recipes involving the use of pearls are not very frequent. So give free rein to your imagination and try to invent them yourself: fruit flavoured pearls, besides adding an unmistakable balsamic note, are ideal for aesthetically embellishing your aperitifs and long drinks.

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