Top Pick Of The Week

August 17, 2010

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Beet Salad


Don’t like the acidity of vinegar? Splash verjus on your salad instead. Photography by Sarsmis | IST.

WHAT IT IS: The fresh juice from wine grapes that has not been fermented into vinegar.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: It provides tartness without the acidity.
WHY WE LOVE IT: It’s distinctively delicious and very low in calories.
WHERE TO BUY IT: Shopping Information.

.Verjus: An Ancient Ingredient That Adds A Modern Touch


CAPSULE REPORT: The ancient Romans, known viticulturists, made verjus (vair-ZHOO).* They pressed semi-ripe wine grapes trimmed from thinning out the grapevines. The juice that emerged was fresh and delicious and could be used to flavor a variety of foods—an alternative to vinegar or citrus juice. Vinegar, the closest relative to verjus, is made by fermenting wine†—and one would have to wait weeks or months for the vinegar to ferment. For verjus, just press and serve. (Learn all about vinegar.)

*Viticulture emerged in areas of the Mediterranean Sea between 3000 and 2000 B.C.E. We don’t know who first made verjus, but the Roman name for it was acresta.

†Vinegar can be made from the fermented juice of almost any plant, although wine from grapes is used in Europe and the U.S.

Since verjus is fresh juice, there’s no alcohol, no fermentation. It’s a find for people who avoid those types of foods; it’s a real find for food-lovers seeking new tastes. And it’s not only a healthy and low-calorie ingredient, it’s also wine-friendly. For aficionados who have been unable to enjoy a glass of wine alongside a salad tossed with an acidic vinaigrette, here’s the solution.

While both verjus and vinegar can be used on salads, in sauces, in cocktails and other recipes, there’s a world of difference between the two. Vinegar is highly acidic with a very tart flavor. Verjus is without harshness. It provides gentle acidity and a flavor that is sweet-tart, bright and fresh-tasting, like citrus.

We predict that after you’ve discovered verjus, you’ll be splashing it on, and in, everything.

Read the full review, which includes recipes and two verjus brands you should know about. Start with the article index below.

THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

Cooking With Verjus & Vinegar

Cooking With Verjuice Gourmet Vinegars Michael Chiarello's Flavored Oils And Vinegars
Cooking with Verjuice, by Maggie Beer. After working for years to perfect her verjuice, Ms. Beer reveals all you need to know about verjuice, the English spelling of verjus. Learn more.

Gourmet Vinegars: The How-To's of Making and Cooking with Vinegars, by Marsha Peters Johnson. Make gourmet vinegars at home using a base of distilled vinegar. Learn more.

Michael Chiarello's Flavored Oils and Vinegars: 100 Recipes for Cooking with Infused Oils and Vinegars, by Michael Chiarello and Karl Petzke. Add pizzazz to your food with these easy ideas. Learn more.


This is Page 1 of a three-page review, plus recipes. Click on the black links below to visit other pages:


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