Saturday, December 21, 2019

Nocino v. 2019


I make this every year and, thankfully, have a local source for green walnuts. My parents have 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, my parents and my boys headed over to their friend's house and picked a ton of green walnuts for me during the summer.


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


This year I had eight gallon-sized jars that went from these green orbs to a potent, delicious Italian-inspired liqueur.


The staining take a little while 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 or limes (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 bottled these for Christmas gifts. Cin cin.


And it would go really well with a slice of my Panforte Margherita. I might just have to make that happen tonight.

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