Vin De Noix – A Heady Walnut Liqueur

by Pamela

vin de noix, green walnuts, nocino, nocino recipe, recipes for walnuts, relationship advice

Months before walnuts are harvested, for your munching and brownie making pleasure, some of us are eagerly waiting for the immature green walnuts to be harvested. What in the world could be done with green walnuts? (Yes, those avocado looking things in the above photo are green walnuts.) Why, make a batch of booze of course. Now to decide….another batch of Nocino….or a batch of Vin de Noix? Decisions….Decisions…..

A couple of years ago, on a trip to Italy, I had the great pleasure to enjoy a new to me sexy liqueur called Nocino. This Jagermeister colored elixir filled my senses with flavors and aromas of walnuts, vanilla, citrus and spices. (As opposed to killing all of my senses, and lots of brain cells, like the previously mentioned alcoholic beverage.) In my quest to learn more about this magic liquid I learned that it was made from walnuts, but not just any walnuts, green walnuts.

Upon arriving back in LA, I hit the farmer’s markets and internet with a vengeance looking for green walnuts. Alas, I was too late that year <sadness>. My little bottle of Nocino, brought back from Sorrento, would have to last me through the year.

Green Walnut Liqueur

Last year I found a farmer selling her green walnuts at my local farmer’s market and all but tongue kissed her when I found them. I was finally able to make my own Nocino recipe. I made and bottled my Nocino much to the happiness of friends, family and Craig and I. This stuff is fantastic! All those months, taking up precious counter space, were totally worth it. (Working in a small kitchen, giving up even an inch of counter space is akin to Sophie’s Choice.) I knew I had to make it again this year.

Thankfully, that farmer from last year remembered me and didn’t ban me from her stand. I gave her my Nocino recipe, along with a cup of Nocino, and she gave me 2 pounds of green walnuts. Woo Hoo!

Not being content with what I made last year (even though it was incredibly delicious) I had to change up the recipe. I changed up the citrus (used orange peels), I changed up the spices (cardamom) and I added Lillet. The addition of the wine changed the Nocino to Vin de Noix (doesn’t that sound sexy?).

Recipes for Walnuts - Nocino and Vin de Noix

Nocino comes from Italy and Vin de Noix comes from France. Lots of Vin de Noix recipes call for using red wine and brandy, along with the high proof alcohol that’s used as the liqueur’s base (The proof of the liqueur is reduced, before bottling, by the addition of a simple syrup). But poking around on the great wide interwebs lead me to various recipes using French vermouth (Noilly Prat), in place of the red wine, and omitting the brandy altogether. Since Lillet is very similar to Noilly Prat, and also from France, I used that in place of the red wine. I also omitted the Brandy completely.

If you have ADHD and need instant gratification, this liqueur recipe is not for you. If you have patience and really enjoy freaking people out by having what looks like a jar of swamp water sitting on your counter, then this recipe is definitely for you (kids LOVE to watch the transformation of this container of magic – just don’t let them take the lid off). And if you’re looking for some recipes for walnuts that don’t include pesto or salads…this is DEFINITELY for you.

Back East, green walnuts are probably not available now. It seems like there are several growers that have them right now in California so hit up your West coast friends or you can check out Local Harvest and see what growers have them. You really need to make a batch of Nocino or Vin de Noix. I’m positive it will become an annual tradition in your house.

Vin De Noix - A Heady Walnut Liqueur
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Faced with piles of green walnuts? Why not make both a French Vin de Noix and Italian Nocino. An easy recipe for luxuriously delicious walnut liqueurs.
Author:
Recipe type: Cocktail
Cuisine: French
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 Pounds (approximately 24) Green English Walnuts
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 2 Large Strips of Orange Zest (without the white pith)
  • 1 Large Strips of Lemon Zest (without the white pith)
  • 7 Cardamom Pods (cracked)
  • 12 Black Peppercorns
  • ½ Vanilla Bean (split)
  • 2 750 ml Bottles Everclear (or 100 Proof Vodka)
  • 1½ Cups Lillet Blanc
  • 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, cardamom, peppercorns and vanilla bean to the large container.
  3. Pour the Everclear and Lillet 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 Vin de Noix.
  13. The longer you let the bottled Vin de Noix set, the smoother it will taste.
  14. Serve well chilled or at room temperature.
Notes
Some people use cloves, and sometimes star anise. Feel free to mix it up according to your tastes.

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

Most recipes only use 1 bottle of Everclear/Vodka. I use 2 which results in a bit higher proof final product, but it's also not as thick or sweet as other recipes. You can make this recipe using only 1 bottle of the high proof alcohol.

 

 

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13 comments

John February 8, 2017 at 11:18 pm

I make both Vin de Noix and Nocino using the Southern California Black Walnut. They can be found in the Los Angeles Area on Mt. Washington, and throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.

Phil December 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Watershed Distillery in Columbus, Ohio, makes Nocino using Eastern Black Walnuts. I talked with the supplier of the nuts and the distiller and both assured me that using the American Black Walnut would be ok. So in early July I gathered about 125 walnuts and cut them and put them in 2 Two gallon glass jugs with 100 proof vodka and moonshine of unknown proof. I added some of the same ingredients listed in the above article. (ie cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, orange and lemon zest, clove, very small amount of anise, small amount of pepper corn, and in one jug a heaping teaspoon of coffee bean. One jug could be sealed tight and one had some leakage so I guess it got some air exposure. The jug with air exposure (and with the coffee bean) ended up darker that the other jug. I also added my sugar straight to the mix at the beginning and not as a syrup. I bottled the liquor after 45 days and ended up with 13, 375ml bottles of end product. The bottles were then put in a cool/dark dirt cellar and have been there until a few days ago when I brought them out and labeled them and will have them ready to give a few away as presents. My Nocino is more medicinal tasting than the bottle that I have from Watershed Distillery and the bottle of Nocino Benvenuti from Italy. But still quite good for a first attempt.
Is there a way to add a picture?

Pamela December 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Hi Phil, love the addition of the coffee beans! There’s not a way to add a picture in the comments, but you could Tweet a pic and add @mymansbelly and I’ll re-tweet it. Or you could IG @PamelaBraun. Would love to see your treasure trove of nocino!

Margo Daugherty May 30, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Can you use Black Walnuts, or the ones that grow on the tree in my back yard?
I made a small amount of vin de noix last year from these walnuts, but now I am
worried they may be toxic. Should I be worried?

Pamela June 3, 2016 at 10:53 am

Hi Margo. I would not use black walnuts for the vin de noix as they do contain some toxic elements. I use English walnuts.

Pamela June 3, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Margo, I got mine from a local flower market and from an online source that matches customers with farmers.

Justin July 31, 2014 at 5:02 am

Pamela,

I have a quick question for you that I hope you have time to answer. I am making my first batches of both Nocino and Vin de Noix, and I am about 50 days in. I went ahead and mixed the sugar in at the beginning, but am planning on letting it steep for two months, about two weeks to go. If I am patient, I may let it go longer. Now on to my question, the Nocino and Vin de Noix I have always had in the past is dark brown. Mine is very dark, but it has a definite green hue. Is this normal and will it continue to darken to the dark brown shade it should be? Thank you in advance for taking the time to help out a newbie!

Best,

Justin

Pamela July 31, 2014 at 5:22 am

Hi Justin,
Both will darken as they age. Typically, both of these libations are made by letting the nuts/spices marinate in the alcohol for 40 days, straining, then letting them sit another 40 days mixed with simple syrup. You may be experiencing this green hue because you added the sugar at the beginning (sugar is a preservative and may be holding onto that green color). Are you planning on thinning these down with water before you bottle? If not, these are going to be some pretty potent drinks and you might not be able to taste the subtleties of all those herbs/spices/nuts that are in there.

When I make mine, I usually strain around day 60, add the simple syrup and let it sit again for about 90 days. I bottle it right around the holidays. The longer these sit, the mellower and tastier they become. CHEERS!

Maurice Simmons July 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Vin de Noix is a French liqueur made from “green walnuts” — made from immature walnuts that haven’t ripened yet. The liqueur is a dark brown colour, with a touch of astringency in its taste. It is not as sweet or thick as the Italian equivalent liqueur, nocino. It is served as an aperitif, in small glasses. Vin de Noix is a country recipe. The walnuts must be harvested before the shells start to harden on them. As for nocino, the immature walnuts are traditionally picked on the 24th of June, St Jean’s Day, though the French tradition goes further and says that after that, the latest they should be picked is Bastille Day, the 14th of July. Some people will call brews made with ones picked on St Jean’s Day “noix de Saint-Jean” to distinguish them from ones made with walnuts picked closer to Bastille Day, and discuss the merits of each. To the walnuts are added sugar, red wine, and an alcohol. Some recipes will call for a pure, distilled alcohol; others will call for “marc” (a form of brandy.) Using marc can give the flavour added complexity. You just use a drinkable plonk for the wine. Orange zest, a vanilla bean, walnut leaves and / or cloves are often added for additional flavour. If testing a batch along the way reveals it to be turning out to strong for your taste, you can dilute it with more red wine. There are many different viewpoints on how long you should let the nuts steep (generally, recommendations range from 40 to 90 days), and whether you should start them off in all the alcohol including the wine, or just the alcohol first, then add the wine after two to three weeks afterwards. In France, many people it at home. It is particularly popular in the south of France, Provence. It is also made commercially. One such maker is the Distillerie d’Haute Provence, which is in Forcalquier, Provence.

junecutie July 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Can’t I just use regular walnuts? Why do they have to be green? Maybe I just missed the answer to this question in the post?

Pamela July 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Junecutie,

Yes, the walnuts have to be green. You cut the whole walnut (when they’re green, it’s more than just the nut and shell…there’s also the outer “husk”), husk and all, and that goes into the making of the liqueur. Could you make another kind of liqueur from just the ripe walnut meats? Sure, but that would be something different. 🙂

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef July 17, 2013 at 9:46 am

I’ve never thought about tongue kissing anyone at the market but for this stuff – might be a good idea. It sounds wonderful!

Pamela July 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Maureen,

You probably don’t need to pucker up…but it sure helped me in this case. 😉

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