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
This recipe is based on one given to me by my cousin Mary.
If you are lucky enough to be in Italy, France or Spain head out and pick your green walnuts. If not, here is my 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.