Eight of the World’s Most Expensive Ingredients

Published in Gourmet Live 04.11.12
There’s more to high-end edibles than lobster and foie gras: See what exorbitant ingredients Elizabeth Gunnison unearthed, and learn what’s behind the luxury pricing
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Most Expensive Pantry Staple: Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale

What: Genuine traditional balsamic vinegar, or balsamico tradizionale, is made from late-harvest white Trebbiano grapes that have been boiled down to form a concentrated must. The must is then placed in a series of cloth-covered barrels, allowing water to evaporate over time until the liquid transforms into a thick, dark, sweet, and complex syrup. The product must be made in either the Modena or Reggio Emilia provinces of Italy in order to bear the name balsamico tradizionale, and each province has its own consortium of experts who approve the balsamic before sealing it in its official 100-milliliter bottle.

How Much: You think wine is expensive? The best balsamicos will typically set you back around $200 for 100 milliliters, or $60 per ounce.

Why Pay More: Balsamico tradizionale must be aged for a minimum of 12 years, and the best are aged for 25. Due to all the evaporation and concentration over the years, it takes a very large volume of Trebbiano grapes to create one small bottle of this precious elixir.


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Elizabeth Gunnison is a freelance writer based in New York. She currently serves as the online food correspondent for Esquire.com and contributes to such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Esquire, and BonAppetit.com.

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