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Top Pick Of The Week

August 17, 2010

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Verjuice Press

 

Pressing grapes into verjus. Photography courtesy Terra Sonoma.

WHAT IT IS: The fresh juice from wine grapes that has not been fermented into vinegar.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: It provides tartness without the acidity.
WHY WE LOVE IT: It’s distinctively delicious and very low in calories.
WHERE TO BUY IT: TerraSonoma.com.
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.Page 3: How Verjus (Verjuice) Is Made & Used

 

This is Page 3 of a three-page review, plus recipes. Verjuice is the British spelling of verjus. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

How Verjus Is Made

If the crop is a good one, grapevines need thinning. If the clusters are going to be large and heavy, the nutrients from the soil will be spread among too many grapes, and the flavor will be diluted. If too many grapes grow too large and heavy, their weight can split or break branches of the grapevine.

So the clusters of grapes are thinned (hand-picked) while the grapes are juicy, but not yet ripened to sweetness. This period is called véraison, the onset of ripening, when the grapes begin to change in color and are soft enough to press.

Because of consumer demand, more artisan vineyards in America and in other wine-growing countries are beginning to make verjus.

  Grape Cluster
At véraison, the onset of ripening, some grapes are removed, then pressed to make verjus. Photo by Véronique Pagnier | Wikimedia.

Styles Of Verjus

Just as wine and vinegar can be made from any number of grapes, so can verjus—which is sold in wine bottles, sealed with a cork. The grape types influences the product, of course. Depending on the grapes used, the verjus itself will be lighter or richer. Even with the same grape type, each brand of verjus will taste different (also as with wine).

There are white wine verjus and red wine verjus varieties.

  • White verjus is lighter and milder. It’s best for chicken, fish and the more delicate vegetables and salad greens.
  • Red verjus is heartier while less acidic. It’s better for marinating and for dressing red meats, spicy dishes and vegetables (like arugula). The most obvious use for either verjus is in salad dressing, 3 parts verjus to 1 part oil.
  • Just as French and American wines differ in style, so does the verjus. French verjus is described as having a brighter or more acidic style; American verjus is known for having more fruit flavor—a “green apple” acidity. We prefer the domestic product.
  • Another reason to buy American verjus: Verjus is fresh juice, bottled without preservatives. It starts to break down in flavor over time (use up the bottle within two months). Purchasing a product that hasn’t come from Europe, spending months in transportation and warehousing, means a fresher product with more flavor nuances.
  • Store open bottles of verjus in the refrigerator. If you have more than you can use in a couple of months, freeze it in ice cube trays.

 

Using Verjus

Add a splash of verjus to just about anything. Acid heightens flavors. Verjus is versatile ingredient that can be substituted for vinegar and wine or a squeeze of citrus, in almost any meat, seafood or vegetable recipe. You’ll find it a refreshing change with complex flavor.

  • Use the traditional 3:1 proportion for a vinaigrette. Or, skip the oil and use verjus alone.
  • In addition to green salads, add additional tang to other types of salad: Chicken salad, potato salad or shrimp salad, for example.
  • Use verjus to deglaze the pan after sautéing: You’ll have a delicious sauce.
  • Try it in beverages and cocktails instead of lemon juice. Make verjus “lemonade” with regular or sparkling water, your favorite sweetener and a sprig of mint.
  • Add a splash to soups and grilled vegetables.
  • Make a marinade. Combine verjus with olive oil and your favorite fresh herbs.
  • Rock a fruit salad. Marinate fruit in verjus and honey with a splash of gin, vodka or tequila.

We mentioned earlier that the bottle would remain fresh for two months; but we bet yours will be empty long before then.

— Karen Hochman

TERRA SONOMA VERJUS

White Grape Verjus

  • 500 ml Bottle (16.9 Ounces)
    Price $15.99 per bottle
  • 3-Liter Bag-in-a-Box
    Phone For Price: 1.707.431.1382

Purchase online* at TerraSonoma.com

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them.

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  Verjus is a wonderful gift for your favorite cook or foodie. Photo courtesy Terra Sonoma.
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