Friday, September 1, 2017

Nocino, a Green Walnut Liqueur from Emilia-Romagna #ItalianFWT

For the first time, since I began participating in the Italian Food, Wine, & Travel group, I am not writing about wine! Okay, I am still writing about boozy goodness, but it's not made with grapes this time. My Italian teacher at Cal was from Bologna. And I remember her talking about this liqueur, though she never brought any to share with the class!

This recipe takes between eight to twelve weeks to create. So, I typically start in July to be able to pour it for Thanksgiving! Keep reading as we delve into the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy...

The Posts

The Conversation
The live chat occurs on September 2 at 11 am EDT. If you're reading this early enough, you can follow the discussion on Twitter; search for the hashtag #ItalianFWT. It’s always a good time, with plenty of wine recommendations, food pairing ideas, and travel tips.

For this edition of #ItalianFWT, I was inspired to make my own nocino, a green walnut liqueur that is originally from the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. Years ago I had traipsed around town with a master forager and cocktail craftsman Katie Blandin Shea. I was researching for an article that appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Edible Monterey Bay about her. Click to read: Local Libations - Field to Glass

As I wasn't brave enough to forage on my own walnuts, I ordered mine from Local Harvest. They have become my go-to for seasonal, harder to come by produce items. But here's what green walnuts look like on the tree...

  • 2 pounds green walnuts (they are in season, in California anyway, from June to July)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • zest from 1 organic lemon (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their yard)
  • 9 all spice berries
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 nutmeg, split in half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1 L vodka
  • 3 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3 C water

Part I
Quarter the green walnuts lengthwise. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest, all spice berries, cardamom, nutmeg, and vanilla bean to the lidded glass container. Pour the vodka over the top of the ingredients. Cover and give the container a good shake and let it sit for 6 to 8 weeks.

Part II
Strain the liquid from the solids using a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can strain it again if you like. Pour the strained liquid back into the container.

Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan and cook until all of the sugar has dissolved. Let simple syrup mixture cool to room temperature. Add the cooled simple syrup to the liquid already in the container. Cover and give the mixture a good shake. Let sit for another 6 to 8 weeks.

Part III
After this second aging you can bottle and drink your nocino. The longer you let the bottled nocino set, the more smooth it will taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Cin cin.

As this post goes live, I have just finished the second step. I am looking forward to serving this for our Thanksgiving feast.


  1. I have collected green walnuts twice to make Nocino but life got in the way. Although I don't have access to them now, I'm tucking your recipe away. Look forward to hearing how this turns out Cam, I do hope you'll share a Part IV: how it turned out! I love that you focused on Nocino for this month's #ItalianFWT ;-D

  2. Have actually had nocino, but I had not thought much about how it was made before. So this is great to get the recipe here. :-)

  3. What a great addition to the Italian FWT line-up! I love that you wrote about Nocino, which I have heard about but never sampled. Please do share your results with us once you've tasted it. Sounds perfect for Thanksgiving.

  4. I am fascinated! I am so happy that you shared this idea with us, because it is totally new to me. I've followed Local Harvest for quite some time - but never ordered green walnuts. Actually, there is what I believe to be a green walnut tree behind my house - but never used them for anything. Eye opening to see how cultures are able to use all that grows nearby. Thanks for sharing!


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