This, basically, is verjuice’s (verjus, for all you francophones out there) Mummy. The real deal. In Iran sour grapes are known as ghooreh, and verjuice as ab ghooreh, and they are a really important part of the cuisine. The season is awfully short (a few weeks in June/July), but the grapes are pressed, dried and ground, frozen and pickled so that we can enjoy their sharp goodness all the year round. Here are a few ideas on what to do with the stuff should it swing by your pantry/fridge.
- Verjuice: i.e. the juice extracted from sour grapes. This finds its way into all manner of khoreshts *(or casseroles), and is somewhere between wine and vinegar in application. It is also used in salads in Iran, and is reputedly good for lowering high blood pressure/cholesterol. Strictly speaking it doesn’t need the fridge once opened: if you have a bottle, don’t be alarmed/go all squealy if it forms a king of must on top: just flick the mould off and carry on using it.
- Sour grape powder: use like a spice – add to dishes at the sealing frying stage. It will add a lovely sharp zing to soups and stews. It is also great in marinades for fish and meat.
- Pickled Sour Grapes: apart from making a perfect gift for your mother-in-law (Les Dawson where are you now?), these can be dropped whole into casseroles/sauces to lend a dish little explosions of sharpness. You can also crush them into salad dressings and stuffing.
- Fresh or frozen: fresh ones (like the ones THAT-WE’VE-GOT-IN-THE-SHOP-RIGHT-NOW-PLEASE-FORM-AN-ORDERLY-QUEUE) need to be washed well and picked through. Detach them from their stalky bits, and then just plop them whole into salads, casseroles etc. Glorious – and they will keep your dinner guests guessing. Now is a good time to buy them to freeze as well: you can use them straight from the freezer. Silly serving idea: they are quite fun dropped whole-frozen into Martinis.
That should give you something to be going on with. If you are popping by the shop this week, do stock up: these are a real culinary treat.