Verjus – The “Wine Friendly” Condiment
Verjus (pronounced vair-ZHOO), sometimes spelled verjuice, is a French term that when translated into English mean “green juice.” It is a medieval condiment that was once a staple of French provincial cooking and is now enjoying a worldwide revival. In medieval times the term could refer to the juice of a variety of unripe fruit – from grapes to plums.
Today, Verjus is made from semi-ripe and unfermented wine grapes. The grapes are hand-picked from the vine during a period called veraison (when the grapes change in color and the berries begin to soften enough to press). Grapes are thinned to reduce the crop load in our vineyard. The thinned grapes are high in acid and low in sugar. Sugars at this harvest can range between 13 and 15 brix. In Oregon, veraison occurs sometime in mid August.
Because this condiment is made from wine grapes and shares the same acid-base as wine, it is an elegant and delicate alternative to vinegar and lemon juice as it is “wine friendly” and will not distort the essence of the wine you serve.
Used wherever vinegar and white wine are used in cooking, it is versatile, delicious, and refreshing. It is a natural flavor enhancer and therefore adds dimension and richness to your cooking, and can be used in larger quantities than either lemon or vinegar
Verjus heightens the flavor of any fish, chicken, game, red meat, and vegetable dish. It adds a wonderful and flavorful complexity to your dressings, syrups, sauces, marinades, and gravies. It is soft and flavorful enough to use all by itself as a salad dressing. In summer, mixed with water or straight, it makes a refreshing and unusual beverage with much less sugar than other fruit juices. Once you’ve used Verjus a few times and tasted its effect on your cooking, you will be putting it into everything.
After opening the bottle, store verjus in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several months. For longer storage, pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze. In fact, when I purchase a bottle of verjus, I always store it in the refrigerator (unopened or opened). This is because it is very hard to completely stop the fermentation process when making verjus.
Check out Linda’s delicious sorbet recipe using this condiment.
Categories:Baking Hints & Tips Condiments - Sauces - Butters - Relishes - Jam and Jelly Recipes Grapes Herbs, Spices and Seasoning Hints & Tips