Although this ingredient has been used in restaurants for years, it hasn’t somehow caught on for homecooking, which is a pity. Verjus literally translates to “green juice” and is the pressed juice of unripened grapes (red, white or a mix). It is often a biproduct of the wine-making process, made from the higher acid grapes that winemakers remove from the vines before the ripening process.
Unlike wine, however, the grapes are not fermented and so aren’t alcoholic. Verjus became popular in the Middle Ages in Europe and can be found in many a French sauce. However, verjus or verjuice has long been used in the Middle East, namely Syria and Lebanon where it is calledhusroum and in Iran where it’s known as abghooreh.
The flavor of verjus is acidic, but gentle, and a bit sweet. It’s somewhere on the scale between wine and vinegar with white having a slightly sharper character and red one more earthy and round. A good rule of thumb is that you can basically use it anywhere that calls for lemon juice. It is great in salad dressings when you don’t want that over-the-top-mouth-puckering vinegar flavor. It’s also delicious to poach fruit, and I love it for marinades, to deglaze a pan, or add a little complexity to a sauce, particularly sauces that have a sweeter edge to them like barbeque.
You can find verjus at most gourmet stores these days. Once opened, a bottle will keep in the fridge for about 2 months or so.