Nocino: Italian Walnut Liqueur

Use Green unripe walnuts, they provide an excellent base for the home enthusiast. If you have access to a tree, good. Otherwise, ask your greengrocer to procure about 30 nuts with their rinds (they should be bright green). Harvesting time is around end of August / September.

Once you have the nuts, wash them well and assemble the remaining ingredients:

  • 1½ quarts grain alcohol (190 proof or 95%)
  • 1½ pounds (3 cups) sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 10 cloves
  • l pint water
  • rind of one lemon, cut into strips
Begin by quartering the nuts with a heavy bladed knife or a cleaver. Do this on a non-absorbent surface, and wear gloves: Though walnut juice is colorless when it comes out of the nut, exposure to the air turns it into dark brown walnut stain that will not come off. Put the nuts with the remaining ingredients in a jar, cover it tightly, and put it in a warm, dark place for 40 days, shaking it every two or three days.

Once the nuts have steeped taste the nocino. If you find it too strong dilute it with some spring water. Then line a funnel with filter paper and strain the nocino into bottles. Stopper them and age the nocino for about six months in a cool dark place. It's wonderful at the end of a meal, or around a fire with friends. It also makes a perfect Christmas gift.

This recipe is based on Pellegrino Artusi's, from "The Art of Eating Well"