“We got this question from one of our Facebook fans:
“I’ve been looking all over but can’t seem to find any information about making a balsamic reduction in a slower cooker is possible… as in, taking balsamic vinegar, setting it in your slower cooker, to make a sweet reduction. Possible or not?? And, worth the time??”
I hadn’t done this before, so we decided to try reducing balsamic vinegar in a slow cooker. Here’s what we did and what we discovered.
We started with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar. When we poured it into a 3-quart slow cooker, it covered the bottom of the slow cooker and came up the sides about 3/8 of an inch. We turned the slow cooker to High and covered it for two hours until it got nice and hot.
Then we took the lid off, and let the vinegar cook on High for another 3.5 hours, for a total cooking time of 5.5 hours.
The result was a syrupy (almost the consistency of molasses), sweet, and rich balsamic vinegar reduction. The initial cup of balsamic vinegar reduced to just 1/8 cup.
If you want to try this, think about the consistency and richness you want in the end. Our reduction was very rich, sweet, and syrupy. But if you’re looking for a lighter reduction, try a shorter cooking time. Also, keep in mind the size of your slow cooker. A bigger slow cooker will reduce 1 cup of vinegar a lot faster than a smaller slow cooker.
You can see the drastic difference between the reduced balsamic vinegar, on the left, and the vinegar straight from the bottle pictured on the right.
Several things to keep in mind if you decide to try:
1. If you cover the cooker after you’ve poured in the vinegar and turned on the cooker, it will draw moisture. Condensation will drip off the lid and into your vinegar. That’s going the wrong way if you want a reduction! So put the lid on just til the vinegar gets hot. Then take the lid off so the vinegar can reduce.
2. Better to leave the lid off if you want liquid to evaporate. But be careful. You don’t want the reduction to happen too fast, or you’ll scorch your lovely balsamic—and have a cooker with dried-on vinegar to clean up.
When the liquid begins to simmer—putting up little bubbles, first around the edge, and then all over the surface—check it every 10 minutes or so. Stir it so it doesn’t caramelize or burn, especially around the perimeter of the pot.
When it starts to get syrupy, your vinegar is almost ready. You could turn the cooker to Warm at that point, or flip it off. The heat that’s left in the cooker may continue to reduce the vinegar.
Let us all know how things go if you try this!