Despite that deeply disturbing color, it’s not toxic. But it’s also not completely drinkable: It’s verjus.

Sour Grapes

How to make and justify verjus

This past weekend, I learned about verjus. And I even made some.

History Lesson

Verjus (literally “green juice” from the French vert and jus) is, according to random websites I found when searching for information on this stuff, an ancient tart liquid. Some say that it was the original form of lemon juice, before lemons became popular and people realized they should probably use lemons for something with “lemon” in the name. In any case, it’s what people used when they needed something sour.

The Problem

I have a patio which bakes in the hot California sun. Years ago, I built a wooden trellis over the patio. But a trellis is not enough; you really need something to cover the trellis to provide actual shade, to drop that temperature from a hellish 100+ degrees Fahrenheit down to a more moderate ~99.

The Fix is In

Some of the grapes started turning light purple in the past few days. That’s a long ways from edible… for us. But for the birds, it’s like ringing a dinner bell. We’d already started to see (and feel) torn and sticky fruit littering the patio, even though 90% of the grapes are still green enough to pass for lime jelly beans.

Harvest Time

So I did that this past weekend: I painstakingly cut down all of the troublesome grape bunches. And there I was with a bushel full of unripe and mostly inedible grapes.

  1. Unripened grapes can be juiced to create verjus.

The Recipe

Fortunately, making verjus is incredibly easy (though very time-consuming and messy). I’m used to recipes which call for ingredients which I can’t even spell much less find at my local grocery store. So to read a recipe as simple and plain as verjus was a dream.

  1. Mashing
    This step entailed crushing the grapes… a bit. This wasn’t about producing juice, but more about making them suffer slightly before their final judgement.
Yes, I know there are many un-mashed grapes here. You try smashing this many and see how you do. Also, I found that the more unripe they are, the harder they are to smash, which means that by sticking mainly to the ones that were easier to squish, I was probably getting sweeter juice from riper grapes. Also, I was tired.
Oh, yum, an entire half-gallon of verjus,most of which is still in my fridge.

And so?

So the real question you might be asking is: How is it? Is it a food that you absolutely must have on your shelf, in your fridge, and in your life? Was it, in fact, a smashing success?

When life gives you lemons… you don’t need verjus.

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