What is Verjuice?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

Verjuice is made from unripened grapes.
Verjuice is made from unripened grapes.

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.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Verjus or verjuice is really good in chicken dishes, it adds something more to the flavor that vinegar doesn't quite have, and has a cleaner taste, in my opinion.

If you want to make it, you should take some unripe grapes, shake them clean but don't rinse them, then put them in a blender.

Strain out the juice and mix it with a bit of coarse salt. Then let it sit for a day or so. It might ferment a little bit, but it doesn't have much sugar, so it won't be much.

Then, either use it as is, or freeze it as ice cubes. The sourness depends on how ripe the grapes are and the type of grapes you use.


@anon139107 - You can make verjuice from any kind of grape, red or green. I've seen commercial varieties made with riesling and cabernet grapes, but I think you can make it from every kind of wine grape.

It takes a few bunches to make enough juice for a dish though, as unripe fruit doesn't have as much juice as ripe fruit.

It's basically what you make when you thin out your grapes midseason.


Can you please advise as to what type of grape is more suitable for making verjuice? We live and own a vineyard and I would like to make my own.

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