Nocino – Walnut liquor

As we cautiously enter the month of September not knowing what to expect, I know as a guaranteed certainty that I will be prepping food gifts for the festive period. From damson jam to morello cherries doused in grappa, apple and berry chutney and I will be bottling my various liquors.

Nocino, is a very old-fashioned liqueur made with not completely ripened walnuts, skins on, green almost soft shells. It is said the walnuts should be handpicked and collected by barefoot females on the night of June 24th, San Giovanni’s Day, if not the nocino will taste awful and off. Who knows, all I know is that I ordered my kilo batch from a farm and they were delivered, barefoot or not my nocino tastes amazing.

My father Rocco (almost 70 years old) has everything he could desire and in all honesty is a man of simple means and pleasures. He now hobby produces his own white wine, red wine, elderflower champagne, elderflower wine and various spirits. So, for his Christmas hamper I am selecting goodies from my books such as my fig leaf liquor, my sharp yet sweet and ruby raspberrycello and my new decadent and dark walnut liquor called ‘Nocino’.

Have you ever had, tried, or made Nocino? If not, may I entice you to a taste below. Here is my bittersweet tasting Nocino recipe.

14 walnuts (green skin)

1 lemon, skin peeled

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

500ml best vodka

500ml water

500g granulated sugar

 

  1. Wash the green walnuts.
  2. Quarter and cut each walnut. This should traditionally be done with a wooden blade and not a metal one.
  3. Take a large kilner clip down jar. Sterilize it with boiling water.
  4. Tumble the walnuts into the jar.
  5. Add the outer peel of the lemon along with the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  6. Pour in the vodka, stir with a wooden spoon
  7. Sit the jar on your kitchen until and shake once a day for the next 40 days.

The colour will slowly change and deepen to a rich almost balsamic colour. After the 40 days has passed you will need to prepare a sugar syrup.

  1. Add the sugar and water to a pan and allow the sugar to dissolve over a medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside and allow the water the cool fully.
  3. Drain the walnut mixture through a sieve and discard the deep and dark, almost alien looking walnuts.
  4. Pass the mixture now through a piece of muslin. This will remove any tiny pieces of debris or grit that remain.
  5. Stir the cooled water and nocino liquid together. Bottle and allow to sit in darkness for at least 3 months.