Take caution when making nocino as the slight liquid that leaks out will stain everything dark brown. You can use gloves if you’d like, but the stains on your hands will eventually subside. We use a hammer and double paper bags to crack these green walnuts and highly recommend this method to make nocino. Not only is it fun, but it makes bringing this liqueur infusion together simple and straightforward. We hope you enjoy this special recipe as much as we do!
Makes 1 quart
1 lb green walnuts, washed and stems removed
1 cup of sugar or maple syrup
2-3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Rind from 1 orange or lemon*
1 liter of vodka (enough to cover walnuts in jar)
½ vanilla bean, sliced down center, cut into 1-inch chunks
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
5 coffee beans
1-2 cardamom pods
2 brown paper grocery bags
Part 1: Prepare Infusion
Wash and dry green walnuts and pop off any remaining stems. If you have a very sharp knife, you can cut them into quarters, but take caution! If your knife does not go easily and safely through, we recommend using a hammer and 2 brown paper grocery bags. We chose the latter method and highly recommend it.
Find a hard surface outside, like a patio or concrete. Add a few green walnuts inside the double-layered bag and smash the walnuts until they split open. You want them to break into pieces, but not turn into mush, so work with a few at a time and slide them into a bowl as you refill the bag with a few more green walnuts. Continue smashing until you are through with all the green walnuts.
Gather your quart jar, spices, sugar or maple syrup, citrus rind of choice and vodka. Layer the green walnuts, spices, citrus rind and sugar until you reach the top of the jar, you may need to push down as you go to fit everything in nice and snug. When you reach the top, pour over the vodka until covered completely.
Put a lid on jar and let sit for 40-60 days. Give it a shake every now and again, when you think of it and make sure you label the date you made the infusion. Resist tasting during this time, as it will be very bitter and not pleasing until it has fully infused and aged.
Part 2: Strain (40-60 days later)
After about 40-60 days, strain the solids from the liquids through a double cheese cloth, set in a strainer over a bowl. It is important to get out all the little bits of smashed walnuts, so let it take its time. It can take several hours to strain or several strainings until the liquid is completely separated.
Part 3: Age for 3 months or more
Once strained, pour into a clean glass jar of choice and allow to age for about 3 months. Remember to label with the date of bottling and the date you want to check on it. It should be perfectly ready in time to sip on or gift for the holidays. Sip a little throughout the year and observe how the flavor continues to deepen if you’d like!
Drizzle over ice cream, add to coffee or a festive cocktail, or simply straight up! Enjoy!