Description and history of the most important ingredient for the production of balsamic vinegars.
In the Modena area, Mosto Cotto is obtained from the slow wood firing of unfermented grape must in a copper cauldron. The Saba is the only ingredient for the production of ' Aceto Balsamico di Modena DOP Traditional and most important of' Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP, the percentage of which may vary depending on the recipe (the more you increase the quantity of cooked must, the more quality the balsamic will be). Saba is a product known in different parts of Italy where, depending on the region, it can have different uses and names. For example it is called "Vin Cotto" or more rarely "Honey of grapes". In some of the local traditions, in addition to the use of indigenous grape varieties, other ingredients are added during cooking, such as nuts, squash, apples, etc. to get a particular taste.
A bit of history
The ancient Roman people already used it and called it with the Latin name " SAPA ". Traces of it can be found in the 10 books "De re coquinaria" written by "Apicius" at the time of Emperor Tiberius, when Roman cuisine had lost that character of simplicity that had distinguished it in the previous centuries. It is suspected that some casks of cooked must forgotten over time could have turned into something similar to the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PDO .
How it is produced
Today its production is made, for hygienic reasons, in stainless steel pots heated by direct heat and at atmospheric pressure . Even today, therefore, with a traditional method well described in the regulation for the production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP and in Italian law. Its production contrasts with that of Grape Mosto Concertato which is generally made without heating the product in special containers where the absence of air quickly evaporates the water with very low costs. The products are visibly different, the cooked must is generally brown in color even if produced from white grapes, the concentrated must remains the typical color of the grape of origin.
How to use
Originally it was mainly used as a sweetener in the cuisine of Roman peasants, but over time it has also become a condiment and a medicine. One of the most curious uses is with the snow to make a granita. But we can also combine it with the tastiest cheeses, with polenta, with beans, with pumpkin, chestnuts. The most typical use in our region varies almost from town to town, for example it is used to make Sabatoni, Christmas bread, Turtèl sguasaròt, Tortelli di San Lazzaro, etc.