Balsamic vinegar doesn鈥檛 get the credit it deserves. It鈥檚 diverse enough to be used in almost any recipe, but for some reason it鈥檚 still typically only associated with Italian food. However, it鈥檚 time to break from that association. Balsamic vinegar is a versatile condiment that鈥檚 Whole30- and Keto-friendly, not to mention all-around delicious. As the saying goes, If it ain鈥檛 broke don鈥檛 fix it, but learning a few ways to tweak balsamic only makes it that much better for glazing, drizzling, and dipping your way to balsamic heaven. HelloFresh鈥檚 head chef and recipe developer Claudia Sidoti shared her go-to ways to hack store-bought balsamic vinegar into gourmet excellence.

Caramelization

One of the greatest things to caramelize is onions. All you need to do is add oil, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar as you slowly let them wilt in the pan. If you want a little something extra, add more balsamic vinegar and turn your onions into a vegetarian gravy.

Fruity Glaze

For an interesting sauce that鈥檚 good on everything from meat to salads, fruity glazes are where it鈥檚 at. Essentially, it鈥檚 a reduction of fruity jam (try raspberry) and grocery-store balsamic vinegar. Simply mix together a vinegar-jam ratio of 4:1 and let it simmer on the stovetop until it reduces by about half. Just be careful not to let it boil!

Ice Cream Topping

No joke, a quality aged balsamic vinegar is a wonderful treat. Because it鈥檚 aged, the vinegary tang has mellowed and you鈥檙e left with a sweet elixir that鈥檚 viscous enough to serve as a sauce by itself. Drizzle a smidge onto homemade vanilla bean ice cream 鈥 it鈥檚 like putting liquid fruit onto an already flavorful dairy dessert.

Ketchup

Why would you want to put balsamic vinegar in your ketchup? Good question. It鈥檚 because balsamic vinegar gives the tomato-based condiment a depth of flavor that you never knew was possible. Mind you, we don鈥檛 recommend simply mixing vinegar directly into your ketchup. Instead, make your own DIY ketchup by combining a basic tomato sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, and a couple tablespoons of balsamic into a saucepan. Let it simmer and reduce for an hour. Cool, then use on burgers, fries, and more.

Pan Sauce and Deglazer

How many times have you cooked potatoes or onions in a pan only to be faced with a leftover charred crust at the bottom? You no longer need to scrub that off with a sponge! Instead, add some balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan. You鈥檒l want to add herbs and broth until you have the quantity and exact flavor profile that you鈥檙e looking for to accompany whatever dish you鈥檝e whipped up.

Instant Aged Balsamic Vinegar

So now it鈥檚 been established that balsamic vinegar is a kitchen hero. However, there are those times when a cheap bottle from the grocery store just isn鈥檛 going to cut it; sometimes you really want that thick, aged balsamic vinegar. Problem is, the real deal is pricey. Good thing you just need a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of port to transform the cheap stuff into an almost exact replica of vinegar that鈥檚 been aging for decades.

Do you have any other must-know hacks for balsamic vinegar? Show them to us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Brit + Co)