Turning Green Walnuts into Nocino, Liqueur de Noix
One of the many things I love about Europe is how there is a reason and a season for everything. In France and Italy, June is the month for making a fortified wine with green walnuts – Liqueur de Noix (French) or Nocino (Italian). Intended as a digestive, this drink is strong at roughly 30% alcohol. The sweeter, and less alcoholic, version is called vin de noix. The vin de noix is served either as an aperitif (like a sherry) or as an after-dinner drink.
The recipe found below is straightforward. However, it requires a bit of advance planning as green walnuts are only available for a short period. And, according to some the best ones are picked on June 24th – the Fête de St Jean. The walnut is associated with Saint Jean the Baptist the Jewish preacher who baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. His feast day is June 24th, a holiday celebrated in France, Italy, Spain and the Canadian province of Quebec. It’s also the day to collect (or buy) green walnuts and begin making this liqueur.
Nocino or Liqueur de Noix
- 30 Green Walnuts see source info below
- 3 1/2 cups Sugar
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 10 Cloves
- zest of one Lemon cut in pieces
- 2x 750 ml 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.