Complex and interesting in flavor, Saba is one of those oft-overlooked ingredients that once tried keeps you coming back again and again to experience its singularly delightful taste. Round, gentle, and sweeter than balsamic, this less acidic condiment works well in desserts. Also, excellent paired with a wide range of cheeses, try Saba with anything from Precorino to Buratta.
Saba or Mosto Cotto as it’s also called, means “cooked grape juice” and is made from sweet unfermented grape must, that has been cooked down until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Must is freshly squeezed grape juice still containing the seeds, skins, and stems of the fruit. Specifically made from one particular variety of grapes, to be real Saba, it must be procured from the Trebbiano grape. An unconcentrated pre-balsamic, it offers a sweet caramelized flavor to recipes.
This practice of cooking grape must, dates back to ancient Egypt and the Middle East. Later in history, the Greeks and Romans applied the same technique using the resulting Saba to sweeten drinks, drizzle over fruits and vegetables, and marinate meat. Once a substitute for sugar, Saba can still be used for the creation of desserts in much the same way balsamic is, but we like it best in conjunction with meats and seafood or drizzled over salads and peak-season produce.