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Posted at 09:15 AM ET, 08/29/2012

Chat Leftovers: Storing balsamic vinegar

Happy almost-Labor-Day. If you’re still on the fence about what to cook for a holiday get-together, check out this collection of drinks, appetizers, salads, main courses and desserts that are perfect for the occasion.

Now on to today’s Food. If you’ve always liked the idea of canning, bottling or pickling your own food — and even if you’re an experienced canner — check out Bonnie S. Benwick’s roundup of new cookbooks with modern approaches to the genre. Of course, her story comes with plenty of recipes for you to try. Here’s a shout-out to the Pear and Chocolate Jam, which I kept sneaking samples of during our photo shoot.

Also this week, Smarter Food columnist Jane Black tells us about an innovative program that supplies coupons for more-healthful food directly to those who need them most. And Shulie Madnick tells us about her eye-opening foray into Israel’s thriving food scene.

Jane will be on hand today for our weekly back-and-forth known as the Free Range chat, and we’re also expecting Marisa McClellan, author of “Food in Jars.” Join them and the rest of our happy band at noon today, and bring your questions: about coupons, canning or anything else on your mind. Meanwhile, here’s a leftover question from last week’s chat:

I keep my balsamic vinegar in a container on the counter. The vinegar that is in the original bottle is stored in the pantry, on a back shelf, until it’s time to refill the decanter. Should it be kept in the fridge?

(Renee Comet)
Left at room temperature, sooner or later wine will turn to vinegar. But what would vinegar turn to? Well, it’s already sharp and acidic, so basically, you’re fine leaving it where it is.

Assuming, of course, that it’s protected from the three elements that would hasten its degradation: light, air and heat. Your original bottle should be in a dark place; your decanter on the counter shouldn’t be clear (like the lovely bottle I’ve used to illustrate this blogpost), but opaque, so light can’t invade. Both should have a cap or stopper that provides an airtight seal. And neither should be kept near a heat source or allowed to get too warm. Once you’ve taken care of all that, your balsamic vinegar should last for several years.

It probably wouldn’t be harmful to keep it in the refrigerator, but it’s not necessary. If you’re like me, refrigerator space is at a premium. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen product packaging for balsamic that recommends chilling. So let it hang out on the counter, and it should be okay.

By Jane Touzalin  |  09:15 AM ET, 08/29/2012

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