Walnut Liqueur Recipe: Traditional Nocino from Italy
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Walnut Liqueur is called Nocino or Nocillo in Italy. Nocino is a traditional Italian liqueur made with green walnuts every June: quite easy to make but will take time. In this step by step guide, I’ll explain how to make your Italian-style walnut liqueur.
The nocillo is typical of Campania and is mainly served as a digestive: this is because the walnuts used are green (that’s why they are harvested in June!) and for this reason they are full of oils and vitamins, and these make them particularly suitable for the preparation of liqueurs.
Traditionally, the harvest took place on the day of San Giovanni (24th of June) but today with the change of temperatures and the rise of the same, the harvesting period has been slightly anticipated and as early as mid June the walnuts are often ready to be harvested.
The Neapolitan nocino recipe that I propose below is the traditional and classical one: it contains an incredible number of spices and aromas that make this liqueur one of the most tasty and incredible to cure stomach problems.
The alcohol that should be used must be pure for a simple reason: once opened, the nocillo must be stored in a cool place and if the alcohol is not pure tends to freeze. I remind you that the nocillo is well preserved up to 5 years, even if at 2 years it makes the best.
Under the recipe, you will find the various stages for the preparation of the nocino step by step to give you an idea of the whole process.
Ingredients for 2 bottles
- 1 liter of pure alcohol
- 25 green walnuts
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 8 cloves
- 10 raw coffee beans
- 10 toasted coffee beans
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 500 grams of sugar
- 150 ml of water
- Wash the walnuts and dry them immediately with a cotton cloth so that they do not get wet;
- Divide the walnuts into four parts, taking care not to let the husk out, a fundamental part in the preparation of the liqueur;
- Place the walnuts, the alcohol, the cinnamon, the slightly crushed nutmeg, the cloves and the two types of coffee beans inside a large jar (like this) and close it tightly. Leave everything to infuse for 40 days, preferably in a sunny and airy place, remembering to mix once a week without ever opening the jar;
- After 40 days, prepare the syrup by melting the sugar in lukewarm water;
- Strain the alcohol to remove the spices and pour into the syrup. Mix well with a tablespoon of steel until the sugar and alcohol are well blended;
- Transfer the nocillo into the bottles, close them and let them rest for a month at room temperature and away from the sun. After the month, the nocillo is almost ready to drink: the perfect waiting time, is still between 6 months and one year.
Preparation time: 6 months
Other tips for a perfect walnut liqueur
- Never use plastic or aluminum jars to macerate walnuts: glass is the only material allowed, because of its resistance to heat that prevents walnuts from oxidizing and changing taste;
- Never use plastic or wood utensils to mix the walnuts: aluminum and steel are allowed because they do not alter flavors and smells, as well as glass;
- According to the traditional recipe, the nocillo must be drunk a year after its production: at six months it starts to be more than excellent, which is why it is an excellent Christmas present;
- Unlike the limoncello or limoncello cream or chocolate liqueur, the walnut liqueur should not be served iced and therefore not stored in the freezer;
- You can add lemon peels to give your walnut a more distinctive flavor, reminding you to cut them quite thin and without absolutely including the white part that would make the liquor too acidic.