Thursday, August 23, 2018

Nocino di Nonni (Green Walnut Liqueur)

I make this every year, but this year I decided to give it a new post and a new name because my parents (Nonna and Nonno, or collectively the Nonni, to the boys) were essential in getting me the walnuts for this year's concoction.


Last year my mom had asked me about the Nocino I served at Thanksgiving. It's made with green walnuts, I explained. And she responded that she had a friend with a walnut tree...and he told her that she should come pick as much as she wanted. Well, that sure beat me trespassing (I don't!) or buying them online (I do!). 

So, before school started earlier this month, Nonna, Nonno, and my boys headed over to their friend's house and pick a ton of green walnuts.


And I mean a ton. Not two thousand pounds, obviously. But do you see D's basket? At least three of those! A ton.


Now I have eight gallon-sized jars being made into nocino in time for Christmas and one gallon-sized jar of pickled green walnuts which will be a first for us. I have no idea what my mom and dad did their haul, but I will certainly give them a few bottles of liqueur for taking the boys to get the walnuts.


The staining is just now beginning to fade from my fingers. "Witchy hands," the boys called them. Yeah, whatever. My friends like my witchy brews! But if you're concerned about the staining, wear gloves! This is a three-part process. Be patient...it's worth every week of waiting. I promise.

Ingredients makes approximately 3 liters

  • 3 pounds green walnuts (they are in season, in California anyway, from June to August, usually)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • peels from 2 organic lemons (I used Meyer lemon because my parents have a tree in their yard)
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked open
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 1.75 L vodka
  • 5 C organic granulated sugar
  • 5 C water

Procedure

Part I
Quarter the green walnuts lengthwise. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, lemon peels, cardamom, 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. I'll be bottling these for teacher Christmas gifts. Cin cin.

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