For decades, it was pretty much common knowledge that high-fat foods were the cause of obesity. But in recent years, new studies have pointed to sugar, not fat, as the actual culprit behind weight gain. All of the low-fat food options that hit store shelves because of the perceived wisdom of a low-fat diet all had added sugar in them to give the food flavor. On top of that, food companies add sugar to enhance the flavor of everything from salad dressings to canned vegetables, not to mention cereals, bread, and dairy products. As a result, we have seen a stunning rise in obesity in both adults and children.
This sugar revelation has led to popular diets like the high-fat, low-carb Keto diet, that results in rapid weight loss for many because of the elimination of carbohydrates (sugar is a small form of carbohydrate that our body uses for energy).
But despite sugar’s negative effects on our health, everyone still gets a sweet tooth every now and then. So, if you want to sweeten up a drink or dish, a great option to use is Saba.
What Is Saba?
Saba is an ancient condiment from Greco/Roman culture made from reduced grape must (unfermented residue) and is a precursor to aged balsamic vinegar. It has a rich, complex, naturally fruity taste that is slightly sweet. It is a simple syrup that has the aroma of figs and raisins, and it will remind you of balsamic vinegar, without the pungent kick.
Where Did Saba Come From?
It all began when peasants would harvest grapes and make them into wine for royalty. They would then take the remaining must and cook it in copper kettles for at least 30 hours to reduce it to a thick syrup. Ancient cultures would then store the Saba in barrels and kegs for years and wait for it to be ready for use.
How Do You Use Saba?
Just like in Greco/Roman times, you can use Saba as a condiment or as a sweetener. It will give anything you can think of a unique flavor and will inspire you to come up with new ways to use it. It can elevate the flavor of meat and veggie dishes, but you can also use it with grain dishes like rice and grilled polenta. You can also use it as a glaze or as an ingredient in basting liquids or a pasta sauce.
But the uses for Saba don’t stop there. It is so versatile that you can use it as a salad dressing, add it to oatmeal or yogurt, toss it with berries or other fresh fruit, drizzle it on ice cream or cheese, or add it to drinks! As a sweetener for drinks, Sabra has some advantages. It isn’t plain sugar, so it sweetens your drink while adding flavor. It is not thick like honey or syrup, so you can mix it easily into hot or cold beverages.
Try adding Saba to coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even a cocktail.
How Can You Get Your Own Saba?
Finding Saba in your local grocery store won’t be an option for most of us — not even if you shop at Whole Foods. The only place to find it is online, and you have a few options.
- Acetaia Leonardi Saba is available on Amazon in an 8.45-ounce bottle that will run you around $30.
- Acetaia Fratelli Gorrieri also produces Sabra that you can find at iGourmet in an 8.45-ounce bottle for $16.99.
- San Giacomo also has an option in an 8.5-ounce bottle for $16.39.
If it seems a bit pricey, don’t worry because one bottle will last you a long time. You only need a few drops for your dishes or drinks. So, investing in an eyedropper to go with your Sabra bottle is a smart move. Once you taste Saba, you will be hooked. It sweetens your food without adding a bunch of calories. So, as a result, you will want to use Saba for everything.
Sabra-Braised Lamb Shanks
This wintry meat dish is something that even the most novice chef can handle. Just make sure you don’t undercook the meat, and you will have a dish with meat so tender that it falls off the bone.
Roast Pork Loin with Saba
Using saba as a glaze in this dish will give it a tangy-sweet richness. But this isn’t something you make at the last minute. You will need to marinate it overnight before cooking it the next day.
Baked Pears with Saba
For an amazingly sweet dessert, try this recipe that only has five ingredients, but a ton of flavor.
Baby Back Ribs with Saba Slather
You can make this as an appetizer or main dish. It must marinate overnight, and then it takes a few hours to prepare. But, the finished product will be a symphony of flavor in your mouth.