You know that feeling you get in your mouth when you think about sinking your teeth into a Granny Smith apple? Yes, that feeling you got just now. Verjus inspires a similar quality of mouth contorting pucker-ability.
Derived from the French vert jus meaning, “green juice”, verjus is simply the highly acidic pressed juice of unripe grapes. Though unfermented and nonalcoholic, it’s produced by winemakers and used by cocktail bartenders instead of citrus to add an accent of acid to their drink recipes. Likewise, chefs use verjus as an ingredient in finer cuisine because it's a more subtle acidity -- it doesn’t grandstand like citrus and allows accompanying flavors to share the stage.
The production of verjus is also good farming. To encourage vine balance, we "green harvest" our vineyards each summer. This involves removing excess grape clusters while they’re still green, reducing crop level and improving the quality of the remaining grapes. We green harvest in early August during a stage in the vine's lifecycle called veraison, a term meaning "the onset of ripening."
Although many grape growers simply drop green fruit to the ground, we resolve to let nothing go to waste. We carefully handpick the green clusters and press them in the winery to make verjus.
Why is it important?
Verjus should be the East Coast acid of choice. It’s the perfect substitute for citrus products, which aren’t grown in the Mid-Atlantic. Many puritan farm-to-table chefs are beginning to “put their menu where their message is” and use verjus.
Our feeling is that restaurants that preach local must use verjus. Systematically using lemons and limes that are trucked across the country is not only unsustainable, it forfeits the opportunity for the East Coast chef and bar manager to highlight our region.
Why isn’t everyone using verjus?
The only answer I can come up with for this question is a lack of information. Verjus is not only delicious, it’s the perfect local acid for cocktails, salad dressing, and marinade.
Verjus is the new citrus. Want to try it? Shoot us a note!