Verjuice is a seasoning made by pressing unripe fruit. It has a very tart flavor thanks to a high acid content and it can be used like vinegar or lemon juice in a variety of recipes. Traditionally, verjuice is made from unripened grapes, and many definitions describe it as being made from grapes, but it can also be made from apples and other fruits. If a recipe calls for verjuice and none is available, people can use other tart ingredients as a substitute.
This seasoning became extremely popular during the medieval era, and was seen in numerous recipes during this period. Unlike lemon juice and vinegar, it will not alter the perception of flavors in the wines served with food, and may be recommended as a seasoning for meals that will be served with wine so that the wine and food pairings do not clash. It can be used in dressings and sauces, as well as to deglaze pans and add a tart flavor to marinades and a variety of dishes ranging from fish to red meats.
Many vineyards have a practice of thinning their vines as the fruit starts to mature. If all of the fruit was allowed to ripen on the vine, the quality would go down. Taking some of the fruit off allows the vines to dedicate more energy into the remaining clusters of grapes, producing a superior product. The grapes pulled for thinning are often used to make verjuice rather than simply being composted or discarded, and the origins of this product may lie in this practice.
Some traditional French recipes call for this acidic juice product and occasionally, modern chefs from all culinary traditions develop an interest in verjuice and start using it in their recipes. This product is often obtainable in regions where wine grapes are grown, especially if popular chefs are using it in their food, and it can sometimes be obtained through importers. Once opened, verjuice should be kept refrigerated or frozen if it is going to be kept in the long term.
The flavor of verjuice is distinctive. Cooks who are just learning to use it may want to experiment before using it in staple dishes. Experimentation will also provide people with information about how they can substitute it for other ingredients or how other ingredients can be used to replace verjuice when it cannot be obtained. This product is not alcoholic because it is not fermented, and can safely be consumed by people with dietary restrictions on alcohol consumption.