Green Walnut Liqueur – An Easy Nocino Recipe

by Pamela

green walnut, walnut liqueur, nocino recipe, recipes for walnuts

Dark like espresso and with nearly as many subtle flavors as this caffeinated comparative drink, the green walnut liqueur known as Nocino is something you definitely want in your life. Right now (okay…maybe not right this second, but in a few months after it infuses and has time to create all of its deliciousness)! But you need to make this right now, because green walnuts aren’t available year ’round. And can you think of any better recipes for walnuts than a walnut liqueur recipe?

My first encounter with Nocino was when I went to Italy last year and visited Limoncello producer Villa Massa in Sorrento, Italy. One of the other things that they make is the green walnut liqueur known as Nocino. Since it is not produced in great quantity, it is only available in Italy. After my first sip of this sweet and seductive liqueur I was hooked.

Tradition states that the Nocino be made from green walnuts that are harvested on June 24th, the Feast of St. John The Baptist. Of course there’s more to the tradition that states they should be picked by virgins looking for a husband…..since I made my Nocino recipe from California walnuts and the odds of finding a virgin in California are fairly slim my “traditional” Nocino recipe is pretty much out the window. But who cares? It’s still going to taste fantastic…virgin or no virgin.

Unlike green almonds, that have an availability of roughly two weeks, the green walnut is available for somewhere around 45 days or so. The earlier harvested walnuts gives the Nocino a bit fruitier flavor where the later harvested green walnut has a bit more tannic flavor to it.

Walnut Liqueur Nocino Recipe

Like Limoncello, the Nocino recipe that people use varies by who is making it. Some people add more spices to it than others. Some let it rest longer and some let it rest shorter. The recipe you use is pretty much up to you and your particular tastes. The one constant ingredient though is the green walnut.

Cutting the walnuts is fairly easy, depending upon what stage of “greenness” they’re in. But make sure you wear gloves and use a plastic cutting board. These things stain surfaces with a gorgeous alien green color. But washing your cutting board immediately after cutting up the walnuts helps tremendously.

You’ll also need a 1 gallon jar with a tight fitting lid to contain all the Nocino goodness while it’s infusing. You want things to have a bit of room to move around. I will warn you…after about 3 days it will look like you’re displaying a gigantic jar of swamp water. The walnuts will still be visible, but you’ll see the floating remnants of the flavoring spices and the liquid will begin to turn black (it’s supposed to do that – remember I said it looked like espresso). Craig won’t pull the lid off of the jar because he’s pretty sure I’m growing some kind of swamp monster in there that will get out and wreak havoc on the house. (Of course I believe that putting a little fear into your spouse every now and then is good thing for the relationship.)

Relationship Advice

This one time…at the ironing board….

Funny advice for brides to be

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Recipe: Green Walnut Liqueur – An Easy Nocino Recipe

Summary: Makes 1 Litre

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds (approximately 24) Green Walnuts
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Large Strips of Lemon Zest (without the white pith)
  • 9 All Spice Pods
  • 1/2 Vanilla Bean (split)
  • 1 Litre 100 Proof Vodka
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 3 Cups Water

Instructions

  1. Cut the green walnuts in half length wise. Then cut them into quarters. Cut them in half (the short way) again giving you 8 pieces from each walnut.
  2. Add the cut walnuts, cinnamon sticks, zest, all spice and vanilla bean to the large container.
  3. Pour the vodka over the top of the ingredients.
  4. Cover and give the container a good shake and let it sit for 40 days.
  5. After the 40 days, strain the liquid from the solids using a cheesecloth lined strainer. You can strain it again using a coffee filter to ensure that you’ve removed all of the solids (this will take a bit of time). Make sure you wear an apron (or crummy clothes) along with gloves because that dark liquid, and walnuts, stain.
  6. Pour the strained liquid back into the container.
  7. Add the sugar and water to a medium size saucepan and heat over medium high heat.
  8. Stir and continue to cook until all of the sugar has dissolved.
  9. Let simple syrup mixture (the sugar and water) cool to room temperature.
  10. Add the cooled simple syrup to the liquid already in the container.
  11. Cover and give the mixture a good shake. Store in a cool/dark area for another 40 days.
  12. After this second 40 days you can bottle and drink your Nocino.
  13. The longer you let the bottled Nocino set, the smoother it will taste.
  14. Serve well chilled or at room temperature.

Quick notes

Some people use orange zest instead of the lemon. They also use cloves, and sometimes star anise, in place of the all spice. Feel free to mix it up according to your tastes.

Remember to wear gloves and use a plastic cutting board, those walnuts stain.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: Italian

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22 comments

Judy July 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Hey, I just collected my black walnuts on June 22 and started 3 batches of Nocino. I have never made this before so I’m really excited about doing this. I picked the walnuts off the trees myself. It was so much fun. I was really surprised at the lemony smell they gave off. I will tell you though that my walnuts did not look like the ones you have in the picture. The picture walnuts look smoother and the ones I picked had a rougher exterior. Should I have waited another week to pick the black walnuts?

Pamela July 5, 2013 at 7:57 am

Hi Judy,

Your walnuts should be just fine. There are different varieties of walnuts, so they can look a bit different. Also, the walnuts pictured in my recipe were picked a bit later by the grower. A couple of them were picked a little too late, because it was too difficult to cut them open. Your nocino should be just fine. I can’t wait to hear about how different the batches are that you’ve made. :)

Cathy July 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Thanks for the great nocino recipe! I found an excellent source for the green walnuts– on localharvest.org. They are the black walnuts and make wonderful nocino!

Pamela July 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm

You’re very welcome Cathy,

I hope you enjoy the Nocino! Local Harvest is a fantastic resource. I was going to get mine there last year but I lucked out at one of the farmer’s markets that I go to and got them there. CHEERS!

Kristi February 16, 2013 at 12:29 am

Your blog has made our trip to Sorrento next week even more exciting which hardly seems possible, but you did. I was over the moon for the limoncello. Now I cannot wait to see if I can try the nocino. Might need an extra suitcase on my flight home. Thanks – brilliant!

Pamela February 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi Kristi,

If you like the limoncello…you’re going to LOVE the nocino! Have fun on your trip! Sorrento was one of the major highlights of my trip to Italy.

Judy December 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I just learned about this liqueur from an Italian magazine cookbook I have. I can’t wait to make it this spring. Just wondering if anyone has thought of using nutmeg instead of cinnamon? I’m allergic to cinnamon. What do you think the nutmeg will do to the recipe?

Pamela December 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Hi Judy, Feel free to leave out the cinnamon. The nutmeg will taste terrific in this. Just remember, nutmeg can be some pretty potent stuff, especially if you grate it fresh from the nut. I finally bottled my Nocino and it’s really good. My husband, who thought I was making some kind of swamp experiment on the counter all summer, has already insisted I make it again. :) Mark your calendar for June 21st (the ‘official’ Italian harvest date). But start looking for the green walnuts in early June (depending on where you live). CHEERS!

Jessica D December 5, 2012 at 7:46 am

Just wanted to let you know that I started this recipe in July. I bottled the Nocino in early October and tried it. It was pretty good, then. Now in December, though, having aged a bit, it’s SPECTACULAR. I plan on making a much larger batch next year. I got a late start on harvesting walnuts so I plan on doing so earlier next year so they are softer and easier to cut! Reading up, it seem the traditional harvest time is in June, so I’m aiming for that. Anyway, great recipe! Thanks for the introduction to this wonderful libation!

Pamela December 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hi Jessica,

I’m so glad to hear that you like the Nocino! I haven’t bottled mine yet, just because I haven’t gotten around to it – LOL. The walnuts are easier to cut when you get them earlier (mine were just starting to get a bit hard when I got them), but sometimes the availability of the nuts changes by a week or two depending on where you are getting them from. Sounds like you’re going to have a VERY spirited holiday. CHEERS!

Pamela December 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I just bottled my Nocino. If you like liqueurs…you need to make this next year. Start looking for those green walnuts in June. Your patience will be GREATLY rewarded.

Dominik MJ • the opinionated alchemist August 3, 2012 at 5:55 am

Really a nice post and a great liqueur.
I am a bit envious, I haven’t yet seen any green walnuts [opposed to green almonds] in the Middle East. I would like to prepare this concoction, but without green walnuts, no nocino.

You might want to try to add just sugar and not simple syrup – I usually do this with limoncello and other liqueurs and it works very well. Then you have more control over the dilution of the liqueur – and it might be more adaptable, if you are mixing with it [more alcohol=better for cocktails].

Jennifer July 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

Thank you! Thank you! Now I finally have something to do with all those green walnuts that are hanging in my front yard. The only problem is, how do I make a delicious liquor when hubs is allergic to any and all nut? Actually never mind. I’m gonna make this anyway, we have plenty of other liquors he can enjoy.

Pamela July 7, 2012 at 6:00 am

good for you Jennifer!

We don’t need to share everything. ;) And you might not want to share this nocino with ANYONE.

Deirdre Armstrong July 4, 2012 at 10:43 am

I, too, would like to know if this recipe can be made with black walnuts. Found you on Punk Domestics- love your blog!

Andrew Cody July 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

I am glad to have this recipe, I have a walnut tree and will do something with it this year!

slywlf July 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

Sounds yummy – one question though! I have a couple huge black walnut trees in my back yard, and every other year they produce awe-inspiring numbers of walnuts, much to the delight of the local squirrel population. Are black walnuts acceptable, or does this require English or other cultivated walnuts?

Pamela July 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

Slywlf and Deirdre –

First, I’m jealous of your black walnut stash. It’s next to near impossible to get those out here. But you can definitely use to make this nocino. As long as their still green enough to cut into. Be careful cutting them.

And Deirdre…thanks for the blog compliments. :)

sippitysup June 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Why do you keep trying to kill me with things I must have? Call me and tell me. Better yet. Meet me someplace in the middle of this country. GREG

Pamela June 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm

If you’re a very good boy this year, maybe Santa will put a bottle of this yumminess in your stocking. No flights required. Just a ‘quick’ jaunt up the 101.

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