Balsamic vinegar is made from white grapes, even the inky stuff that most people think of as "balsamic."
Still, the vinegar's dark-as-soy-sauce appearance makes it surprising to find "white balsamic" in a recipe, or on a store shelf.
Both types of balsamic start out the same way. Grape skins are simmered to extract sugars that are turned into vinegar, a liquid that grows dark as it's cooked and stored in wooden barrels. Authentic, traditionally dark balsamic vinegar is usually made from Trebbiano grapes, and aged for at least 12 years.
The difference is that white balsamic is coddled to remain clear. It is simmered under pressure, to avoid caramelizing, and often aged in stainless ?steel or uncharred wood casks, to retain lighter flavor and color.
Try using white balsamic in dressings for delicate salads, naturally pale sauces and on steamed fresh vegetables.
In this recipe, from ?Kerry Saretsky's French?RevolutionFood.com via SeriousEats.com, raw ?white button mushrooms are thinly sliced in a ?food processor and dressed ?with a vinaigrette that uses ?white balsamic.
The mildly funky fungus is accented with salty shreds of Parmigiano-Reggiano and green parsley. The white balsamic's ?clarity helps preserve the whiteness of the mushrooms.
Saretsky likes using a food processor for top speed, but you can make a slower salad with a sharp knife.
> Paris Mushroom Salad
1 1/2 to 2-ounce chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
9 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, wiped clean
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon white balsamic or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fit your food processor with the thin slicer ?attachment. Push the Parmigiano-Reggiano through first, then the parsley, and then the mushrooms. Remove the slicing disc, and put a serving plate over the food processor bowl. Invert the bowl, so the mushroom salad comes out with the mushrooms on the bottom and the Parmesan on top.
Zest the lemon over the salad and top with cracked black pepper to taste. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and salt until emulsified. Drizzle over the salad and serve right away.