Sour grapes

July 24, 2011  •  Category:


These sour grapes are very small and very sour; the Middle-Eastern store had them on sale.

Traditionally,  a grape vinegar  is made every year in mountain villages in Lebanon with the sour grapes  in order to have something acidic to add to salads and stuffed vegetables, in lieu of  lemons when these are no longer in season or too expensive.

This vinegar is called husrum or verjuice.

Here is a method for preparing it from Chef Ramzi’s Culinary Heritage of Lebanon.

  1. Crush the grapes (or use a juicer) and collect the juice.
  2. Salt the sour juice to taste and simmer over medium heat, skimming the foam until it disappears.
  3. Cool and pour into a glass or clay bottle, adding a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent molding.
  4. Use throughout the year instead of lemon in  cooking  or when making salads.


26 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Magic of Spice says:

    I never find sour grapes but I just love this process! I have some gooseberries I need to use up and they remind me of sour grapes, maybe I can adapt? 🙂

    • Joumana says:

      @Magic of Spice: sure, you can give it a shot. Apparently in medieval times in Europe they used other fruits as well, as long as they were sour/ (read that online somewhere)

  2. Rosa says:

    Verjuice must be wonderful.



  3. deana says:

    They use crabapples in ENgland to make their verjuice… I’ve always wanted to make it from scratch. Verjuice is lovely in so many things (and I’m making a dish with it for this week’s post! I never knew you could buy the sour grapes in a middle eastern store… must check!

  4. Krista says:

    Oh how interesting, and what a clever replacement for lemon. 🙂 I love learning things like this!

  5. Three-Cookies says:

    This looks quite interesting, I have never seen these anywhere.

  6. Viviane @ Taste-Buds says:

    This is one I am keeping! Awesome recipe and quite simple! I love husrum although I am incapable of eating it like I used to! lol

  7. senga50 says:

    Après la douceur de tes muffins, une curiosité pour moi et sans doute une touche acide bien intéressante… si j’ai tout compris ?! J’aimerais bien goûter !!

  8. T.W. Barritt says:

    This is fascinating – never seen these grapes before, and how cool that the juice becomes a condiment for cooking.

  9. domi says:

    Inconnu dans ma cuisine….

  10. Diane says:

    I suspect our grapes are going to be a bit sour this year so this is great idea not to waste them. Diane

  11. Adelina says:

    Thanks Joumana! This sounds great. I have seen these grapes at the market, but had no idea what it’s used for.

  12. Peter says:

    A great, quick recipe for those that want to eat local and seasonal…verjuice when the citrus is out of season.

  13. weirdcombos says:

    I’ve never had verjuice, I bet it’s delicious.

    I remember when I was a kid plucking some of the green clusters from my neighbors’s grapevines in early to mid summer in Brazil. I would just eat those grapes as snack with a sprinkle of was such a treat… super sour making my mouth pucker and tingle. Good childhood memories…

    Next time I am in Napa that’s what I am going to do 🙂



  14. Richelle says:

    Just curious, are sour grapes different from regular grapes or are they picked before they are ripe and sweet and therefore still sour?

  15. Caffettiera says:

    Indeed, I was going to ask the same question as Richelle. They look like unripe grapes to me. Trying this with other fruits is also very tempting.. I can imagine the rich layer of flavours lying ahead. Although I must admit that my favourite souring agent will always be lemon.

  16. Fadi says:

    Yes Richelle, they are unripe grape, but hang on! I have a beautiful vine tree in my backyard here in Ottawa, Canada. We use it to collect leaves for “stuffed grape leaves”. It is bearing tons of black grapes that are sour and, unfortunately, will remain so till the Canadian weather does its job on them.
    I am going to follow the instructions above and keep you posted, if they turn out to be useful for salad dressings and stuff.

  17. Richelle says:

    I’m off to juice lots and lots of the sweet grapes from our vines, to freeze and make molasses later in the winter when the heat from the stove will be welcome! There are some unripe bunches, that started to grow very late in the year and I don’t think they will fully ripen before first frost, so I’ll pick and juice those as well, to make verjuice! Ah, and of course I picked lots of young leaves in the spring, for dolma making. I love it when you can actually make good use of all parts of something growing in your yard.

  18. Barbara says:

    At Hosrom time, early summer in Lebanon, there is a special way of preparing Warak Arish bi Zeit – Vegetarian Vine leaves cooked with oil . You get the first small and tender leaves of the season, fill them with a luscious mix of rice, chopped parsley, chopped tomatoes, a little fresh mint, some chickpeas , salt, pepper, allspice, and lemon juice, lovely olive oil,and water to taste . These little bundles are so cute and tidy, not bigger than the size of a small finger, and then the bunch of Hosrom will be nestled in the middle . Cook as usual on very low heat , for a long and slow cooking, and when tender be patient … put it in the fridge to cool completely ! Then turn the pretty work upside down on a larger platter and enjoy the green cake shaped specialty – because the Hosrom contains a lot of pectin, it holds it in shape , and gives this satisfying sour layer of taste, like an elegant touch , addictive …

  19. Dodi says:

    Thank you. Have made the VerJus from very sour grapes grown in my garden.
    Now to find out how to use it!

  20. says:

    Decorative Food – What is common in top restaurants, all around the world.
    Although a one-time expense, this invested is anticipated in order to save the
    store lots of money every year. She understood the inherent
    flaw within the paper sacks; no-one enjoyed being covered with cooking

  21. Michelle Giroux says:

    How long should it last and should it go in frig? Other recipies doe this ha e read critic acid needs to be added to last for more than a few days.

  22. Nadia says:

    The grapes are actually wine grapes that are un-ripe , before they turn purple and become sweet. Wherever you see a grapeleave vine is where you will find these grapes. They even grow wild like everywhere. This juice can even be reduced to a thicker. paste form . I have had both, very sour. And delicious and lasts for a very very long time in the refrigerator . I personally have not made it but am so happy I found the recipe.

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