VerJus – Rediscover an Ancient Secret
A New Old World Culinary Adventure
We’re very excited to introduce you to a product that is new to us but is a very ancient cooking ingredient, VerJus. It was very popular during medieval times and used quite frequently by the Romans. In fact there’s evidence dating its use as early as 71 A.D. The French call it verjus, (pronounced ver-jooz and translated means green juice) also spelled ver jus and the more Americanized version verjuice.
No matter the spelling this fabulous and versatile ingredient is making a comeback from the dark ages. We’ve even seen a major revival in various parts of the world including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and now the United States.
A Chefs Rediscovery
In those early times when trade routes began to expand between regions and countries the use of verjus started to decline in popularity as a status symbol. A wider variety of seasonings, saffron, lemons, wine, and vinegar took hold as a sign of wealth and culture except for those areas where grapes were grown and their use was an important ingredient in a variety of recipes. Verjus was used for sweetening, tenderizing, sauces, stews, drinking mixture, various ailments, and to settle the stomach.
More recently a growing number of chefs and home cooks are rediscovering verjus due to its non-alcoholic nature. They also like the fact that it retains most of its delicate fresh-tasting acidulant qualities. Chefs also point to its easy use and delicate flavors that are never subject to the harshness and overpowering taste that can come from lemon juice, or an aggressive use of vinegar or wine.
What is VerJus?
Simply said verjus is a non-alcoholic juice made from a variety of crushed semi-ripe wine grapes. Depending on the growing regions ver-jus is usually a combination of red or white wine grapes. Like a fine wine the type of wine grapes being used can influence the overall flavor of the juice.
The flavor is distinct and is not a grape juice, nor is it sweet, and definitely not a vinegar yet it still retains many of the finer acidic qualities of both without overpowering the main flavors of the dish. It’s also a perfect accompaniment to wine because it compliments both the tartaric and malic acidic base found in wine and verjus.
How to Use VerJus
Verjus provides an elegant flavor as it enhances the food flavors rather than masking them. It provides a fresh almost citrus, lemony flavor with a hint of vinegar that will add zest to salads, marinades, reduction sauces for fish, chicken, pork, lamb, beef, pan sauces and gravy, splashed on fruit, steamed vegetables and even blended drinks. Vegetarians as well as meat eaters enjoy the clean, fresh flavor of VerJus.
We’ve combined several recipes using verjus that will work perfectly for the holiday season and beyond. You can find a few of our favorites in our recipe section at Club Sauce.