Nocino (Walnut Liqueur)
This walnut liqueur—a staple in northern Italy—is made with green walnuts picked at the end of June or beginning of July. While the exact date is not important, it’s best to use young nuts because as they mature, the outside sheath becomes bitter. *You can also purchase nocino at well-stocked liquor stores.
(Makes 1 liter)
- 1 liter of 70–80 proof vodka (vodka works best because of the neutral flavor)
- 10 green walnuts (when out of season, use frozen nuts)
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, pods reserved
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 liter glass bottle, sterilized by boiling
With a cleaver, quarter the walnuts. Wear gloves and, once finished, wash working surface and gloves thoroughly. (Walnut juice stains, though it takes a few hours to turn from transparent to dark brown.) Place the chopped walnuts in the sterilized bottle together with the cloves. Add the vanilla seeds and pods. Fill with vodka, close the bottle, and place in a sunny location. Let age for 40 days, shaking every 2 to 3 days. Strain ingredients and rebottle the liquid.