Following its popularity at our December Feast last month, we wanted to take the time to explain a little more about the concept of a verjus, and of course share the recipe with you too so that you can try it at home.
Verjus is the unripe and sour juice from acidic fruits (and some vegetables) such as grapes, apples, crab apples, sorrel and rhubarb. It is an alternative to vinegar that was widely used across Western Europe throughout the Middle Ages and also in Persian and Arabic cuisine. It’s main uses were to deglaze dishes, add acidity to sauces, soups and stews, as a condiment or in dressings and vinaigrettes. As wines and vinegars became more readily available and cheaper to produce, verjus fell out of favour.
It’s an ingredient that Darren, our head chef, likes to use as it adds more body than vinegar, and the whole, rounded, full flavour gives depth and complexity. Using the apples from the farm to make a staple product for our larder is very rewarding, and these yearly practices will hopefully become part of our everyday work in using the best of what Nancarrow has to offer through a little known craft.
Orchard Verjus Recipe
- 5kg of apples (ours were harvested in late August)
- 1 750ml bottle of apple cider vinegar with ‘the mother’ (check the label)
- 2 litres of water
- 5g yeast
- Sodium metabisulphite
- A food processor
- Brewing container that’s been sterilised
- Pop cap bottles that have been sterilised
- Blend your apples in the food processor using a little water to help make a rough mash texture
- Add the apples and any remaining water to the container along with the vinegar and yeast.
- Mix well and put the lid on the container. Once mixed, move the container to somewhere warm but with no direct sunlight on the container. It’s important to try and keep a constant temperature as opposed to a fluctuating one.
- Leave the apple mix for two weeks, allowing the mix to ferment naturally with the yeast, mother from the vinegar and any wild yeasts that were on the surface of the apples.
- After the two week period has passed, hang the mixture in cloths to extract the liquid, it should look a lot like cloudy apple juice. Once you’ve extracted the liquid, add a tablespoon of sodium metabisulphite, this basically kills any wild yeasts and will stop the verjus from over fermenting and remaining a neutral sour liquid.
- Bottle your mix into sterilised bottles and your ready to use your verjus!