Ingredient of the Week: Verjus

What is it? Verjus has a long history in the culinary world. Used in Europe before lemons and other citrus fruits were commonly available (the first lemon is said to have entered Italy around the 1st century AD), it is made from the juice of pressed, unripe grapes.

Literally translating to "green juice," it can be made from both green and red grapes, or both.

How is it used? It was used extensively in the Middle Ages and Renaissance as a form of acid in dishes, and has enjoyed its own Renaissance recently. It is often produced by American wineries, and as they grow in popularity and numbers, so does verjus.

It is great in salad dressings because the taste is mild, yet tart and does not compete with the flavor of any wine paired with it. It is used in place of vinegar, in sauces, sorbets, as a pan deglazer and even in mixed drinks for a little tang.

Where can I find it in Houston? These were spotted at the Spec's Warehouse on Smith.

Recipe: Honey-Roasted Pear Salad with Thyme-Verjus Dressing: Courtesy of Bon Appétit

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