RECIPE: HOMEMADE NOCINO WALNUT LIQUEUR
Nocino is an Italian liqueur made with unripe walnuts that are still soft in their green husks. It’s spicy, sweet, and slightly bitter, and delicious served drizzled over vanilla ice cream, or served on its own as an aperitif.
To make nocino, the first thing you will need to do is source some green walnuts! I’ve never seen green walnuts at any market. It may be easier to find a friend with a walnut tree.
The best time to make nocino is in late May or early June, when the shells have still not yet hardened inside the husks. If you wait too long, the walnuts are too hard to easily cut through and you need to quarter them to make nocino.
PROTECT YOUR HANDS AND CUTTING BOARD FROM WALNUT STAINS
Once you have your green walnuts, you’ll want to take care with them as you work with them for this (or any) recipe. Walnuts STAIN like a sharpie permanent marker.
You’ll cut into them and they’ll look pretty and white inside, but green walnuts secrete a juice that will stain anything it touches dark brown—your fingers, your cutting board, your clothing.
So, wear gloves when you cut into the walnuts and handle the cut pieces. Work on a cutting board that you don’t care if it stains. Wear an old t-shirt or clothes or an apron you don’t care about if it gets stained.
HOMEMADE NOCINO WALNUT LIQEURE RECIPE
The juice from the walnuts will permanently stain anything it touches, so I recommend that you wear gloves while cutting them. Wash down the cutting board as soon as you are done cutting the walnuts.
Some people are very sensitive to native black walnuts, so if you use black walnuts instead of English walnuts, be aware of any such allergies if serving to guests.
- 30 green English walnuts, early enough in the season so that they are easily cut with a knife
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 whole cloves
- 1-inch piece of vanilla bean
- Zest of one lemon, cut into strips using a vegetable peeler
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 liter vodka