Verjuice is unfermented grape juice made from unripe green grapes. It is very acidic, making it tart like sour apples, but less tart and acidic than vinegar.
It is currently enjoying a small amount of popularity, as it can be used in places where vinegar can’t be. A salad with a vinaigrette dressing can’t be served with most wines, but a dressing made with Verjuice can because it doesn’t have the acetic acid that vinegar does, which is what clashes with wine.
In California, some wineries are now testing the market with Verjuice (as of 2004.) American Verjuice is more fruity than French; the French is more acidic. Americans are also making Verjuice from red grapes.
Verjuice is used commercially in making some French mustards, such as Dijon and Bordeaux.
It is pasteurized so that it will not ferment into vinegar or wine.
Use it when you would like the tartness of lemon or of vinegar without the harsh edge of either.
Can be used to deglaze a pan.
When roasting fowl, try mixing equal parts Verjuice and olive oil (a tablespoon or two of each) with a bit of salt and brushing the bird’s skin with it before cooking. The combination of the Verjuice and the salt will help the skin to carmelize quicker and better.
There are Roman recipes dating back to 71 AD that use Verjuice. Verjuice was used throughout the Roman Empire. The availability of Verjuice in the Dijon area for mustard making made Dijon a centre of mustard production in Roman times.
Verjuice was used very widely until the beginning of the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, it was often preferred to vinegar. It was used in sauces, as a condiment on its own, to tenderize meat, and to dress salads with.
Verjuice was mostly used in the summers, when it was freshly pressed — being an unfermented fruit juice, it wouldn’t last long before nature took its course. Vinegar, which would store, was used in the winter. One method of preserving Verjuice involved salting it heavily.
By the 1600s in France, it was being replaced in recipes by sour orange juice or lemon juice.
Pronounced “ver – zhoo”. The name literally means “green juice”. In older French, it was called “vertjus”. At one point, it was called “verjons” in English. As it gains recognition in the English-speaking world in the 2000s, the English term “verjuice” is starting to replace the French word “verjus”.
The Romans called it “acresta”. By the Middle Ages that had become “agresta” in Latin and “agresto” in Italian. In Spanish and German today it is called Agraz.