Mildly Tart, Non-Alcoholic Grape Juice? That's Verjus!

Ingredient Spotlight

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Not quite wine and not quite vinegar, verjus settles Goldilocks-style somewhere in between. It's made from the pressings of young, unripe grapes cut at the beginning of the grape season to allow other vines more room to grow. Verjus isn't fermented, so there's no alcohol, and the flavor is a gentler, sweeter version of vinegar — though definitely still tart. So, do you drink it? Do you cook with it? Let's discuss.

Verjus can be used much like any other acid in our cooking. It can take the place of lemon or vinegar in a salad dressing or be whisked into a sauce. (Try it in a beurre blanc. Heaven.) You can also use it to deglaze a pan much like wine, add a splash to a finished dish for a final punch of acidity, or to marinate meats before cooking. Bonus tip: chefs at restaurants with fancy wine menus love verjus because its mild acidity doesn't compete with the wine.

Verjus is not something you'd typically drink straight-up, but try mixing it with sparkling water as with drinking vinegar shrubs. If you're into making your own cocktails, definitely give verjus a try next time you feel like experimenting.

Look for verjus at most well-stocked wine stores. Navarro Vineyards makes a popular and widely-available version. Once you open a bottle, you can keep the remainder for several months in the refrigerator or freeze it for even longer.

Have you ever cooked with verjus? What are you favorite ways to use it?

This post was requested by htog for Reader Request Week 2013.

(Image: Mikuni Wild Harvest)

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