Advance Planning

Today’s recipe is for something I made a year ago. It is a recipe so seasonal that you can make it only in June.

And it takes almost 6 months to finish. But the wait is worth your while

The recipe is for Nocino, a green walnut liqueur - actually a digestivo - from Italy. (The French also have a version - Liqueur de Noix.)

If you want to make this, now is the moment to source the ingredients. The key ingredient, green walnuts, seem to be available for what feels like thirty-seconds each year, so you’ll want to get to know your source in advance, and then get busy when a box shows up in the mail. (I list my source below...)

Making it in June has it ready in time for the holidays. You know, the winter holidays... that time of year when you overeat and need a little digestivo to get you through. A sip is also a delight on a long dark fireside evening.

This recipe came to me from my cugina Mary, who spends much of the year in Bologna., and the remainder in Oakland, California. When I last visited her in Oakland, she shared her home-made Nocino with me… as well as her recipe. It is delicious

You know my predilection for experiment. Next year at this time, I will try a different Nocino recipe, shared by our friends and neighbors Giuseppe and Annamaria. It’s his mother’s version.

Stay tuned!

~ David

Nocino, A Green Walnut Liqueur
This recipe is based on one given to me by my cousin Mary. 

30 green walnuts (see source info below)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
10 cloves
zest of one lemon, in pieces
2 750ml bottles grappa (see note below)

Wash and quarter the walnuts. Places them in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Add the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and cinnamon. Pour in the grappa, and stir.

Cover and let sit for 40 days, shaking the container every once in a while. Don’t be alarmed – the contents will start turning brown (a walnut brown, naturally) – very quickly.

After the 40 days, strain through a fine-meshed sieve that is lined with cheesecloth into bottles. Seal the bottles, and let age in a dark, cool place for at least 3 months, preferably longer, before serving.

Makes 2 750ml bottles.

Source: I got my walnuts from Haag Farm in California. This isn’t an endorsement or advertisement, simply information. The quality was excellent

Note: Mary does not like using grain alcohol or even vodka to make Nocino. She reported that the Italians she knows use grape alcohol, which is not easily available in the U.S. Based on this information, I opted for grappa, and it worked beautifully.

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