Nocino: Walnut Liqueur

Recipes that stem from the intertwining of tradition, harvest times, annual festivals and holidays…like this nocino liqueur… are by far my favorites. So often it’s people’s lives, the seasons and history that establish culinary tradition.

Nocino (walnut) liqueur making

Nocino isn’t prepared only in Italy but it’s at the very least one of its places of origin. Like many recipes, the same or similar recipe is an outgrowth of like traditions, cultures and climactic conditions elsewhere. The 24th of June, the summer solstice, heralds the arrival of summer. It also coincides with Saint John the Baptist’s saint day. And so this saint’s day has become the traditional day for the preparation of nocino; the day that walnuts should be gathered and placed in alcohol to make this divine liqueur.

Nocino (walnut) liqueur making

Nocino (walnut) liqueur making

At the end of June walnuts are ripening and green, and still tender so it’s easy to cut through them and slice into into quarters.

Nocino: Walnut Liqueur

Ingredients

Alcohol for liqueurs, or vodka, 1 liter
Walnuts, green and unripe, 1 kilogram or about 30, rinsed and quartered (2.2 pounds)
Granulated sugar, 1/2 kilogram (1.1 pounds)
Cinnamon sticks, 10 centimeters (3 to 4 one inch pieces)
Whole cloves, 7
Lemon peel from one large untreated lemon, only the yellow outer skin

Special Equipment

A large mason-style jar big enough to hold all the ingredients, about 2 liters (2 quarts). If you can’t find a large mason jar use several smaller ones and divide up your ingredients among them.

Preparation

Pour the alcohol into the mason jar(s) and close.

95ยบ Culinary alcohol used to make liqueurs

Pick the walnuts when they’re still very green, at the end of June. Discard any that are black inside, like these.

Nocino (walnut) liqueur making

Rinse the walnuts, pat dry and quarter. The walnuts will turn your hands black; to avoid this wear gloves while you are quartering them.
Add the walnuts to the alcohol.
Add all other ingredients.
Seal the mason jar.
Shake the mason jar to combine the ingredients, then place the jar in a sunny spot.
At first the liquid will be transparent but by the second day it will have turned black.

Nocino (walnut) liqueur in the making
Every so often, about once a day, shake the jar.
After 45 days use a fine mesh cloth or coffee filter to strain the alcohol mixture. I usually strain twice although this isn’t strictly necessary.
Wash the mason jar then pour the alcohol mixture back into it.
The mason jar now needs to be kept in a dark, cool place for about three to four months to mature and age.
Occasionally shake the jar; several times a week.
Tradition has it that nocino is served at Christmas.
You may want to bottle the nocino to make wonderful holiday gifts.

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Nocino: Walnut Liqueur

Ingredients

  • Alcohol for liqueurs, or vodka 1 liter
  • Walnuts green and unripe, 1 kilogram or about 30, rinsed and quartered
  • Granulated sugar 1/2 kilogram
  • Cinnamon sticks 10 centimeters (3 to 4 one inch pieces)
  • Whole cloves 7
  • Lemon peel from one large untreated lemon only the yellow outer skin

Instructions

  1. Pour the alcohol into the mason jar(s) and close.
  2. Pick the walnuts when they're still very green, at the end of June. Discard any that are black inside.
  3. Rinse the walnuts, pat dry and quarter. The walnuts will turn your hands black; to avoid this wear gloves while you are quartering them.
  4. Add the walnuts to the alcohol.
  5. Add all other ingredients.
  6. Seal the mason jar.
  7. Shake the mason jar to combine the ingredients, then place the jar in a sunny spot.
  8. At first the liquid will be transparent but by the second day it will have turned black.
  9. Every so often, about once a day, shake the jar.
  10. After 45 days use a fine mesh cloth or coffee filter to strain the alcohol mixture. I usually strain twice although this isn't strictly necessary.
  11. Wash the mason jar then pour the alcohol mixture back into it.
  12. The mason jar now needs to be kept in a dark, cool place for about three to four months to mature and age.
  13. Occasionally shake the jar; several times a week.
  14. Tradition has it that nocino is served at Christmas.
  15. You may want to bottle the nocino to make wonderful holiday gifts.

Recipe Notes

Special Equipment needed:

A large mason-style jar big enough to hold all the ingredients, about 2 liters (2 quarts). If you can't find a large mason jar use several smaller ones and divide up your ingredients among them.

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