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Sauces and Spicery

(or Verjus)

The acid juice of green or unripe grapes, crab-apples, or other sour fruit, used in cooking or as a table condiment in much the same way as vinegar. It appears frequently in receipts from the 13th to the late 19th centuries, but is only rarely available commercially in England now.

Original Receipt in 'The Accomplisht Cook' by Robert May, 1660 (Robert May 1660);

To make Verjuyce.
Take crabs as soon as the kernels turn black, and lay them in a heap to sweat, then pick them from stalks and rottenness; and then in a long trough with stamping beetles stamp them to mash, and make a bag of course hair-cloth as square as the press; fill it with stamped crabs, and being well pressed, put it up in a clean barrel or hogs-head.

Original Receipt in 'The Country Housewife and Lady's Director' by Prof. R Bradley, 1728 (Bradley 1728)

To make Verjuice of Grapes, unripe, or of Crab-Apples; from J. S. Esq.
Take Grapes full grown, just before they begin to ripen, and bruise them, without the trouble of picking them from the Bunches; then put them in a Bag, made of Horse-Hair, and press them till the Juice is discharged; put this Liquor into a Stone Jar, leaving it uncover'd for some Days, then close it and keep it for use. This Verjuice is much richer than that of the Crab-Apple, and has a much greater influence in the way of Callico-Printing; but is harder to come at, few People being willing to gather their Grapes unripe; but where there is a large Quantity, it is well worth while. N.B. It will do well, if the Liquor is put into common Casks, but is nicer to the Palate if it is kept in glazed Jars of about eight or nine Gallons, and the Berries might then be pick'd from the Stalks. Keep this in a good Vault, and it will remain good for three or four Years as Verjuice; but a little more time will make it lose its Sourness, and it will become like Wine.

The Verjuice of Crab-Apples should be made of the wild Crab, which produces Thorns on its Branches, and brings a small round Apple, such as are common to be planted for Fences. I am the more particular in this, because some Apples, which are call'd Wildings, are supposed to have a sharp juice, but such will soften by keeping a Year or two. Take the Crabs, I speak of, in October , and grind them in a Mill, such as they use for making Cyder; then press the Liquor, and put it into Vessels like the former. Besides the agreeable Taste this has, as an Agresta at the Table, it is good for the Callico Printers.

Verjuice appears in:
Beef Olives
Giblets with Herbs
Oyster Chewitts
Pumpion Pye
The Shropshire and Worcestershire Dish

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