The end of June is the time to collect unripe green walnuts. Sometimes they are blown down after a storm and we pick them off the ground, or they can also be picked early from the tree. The Italians make a delicious liquor ‘Nocino’ and some believe that the best day to harvest is June 24, St. Johns day, and that it should be made with exactly 24 nuts. French farmers have been making walnut wine for centuries. Their famous ‘vin de noix’ is deeply aromatic and flavourful.
Although a portion of the ingredients, (especially for the Nocino) are not locally grown in our region, which makes it a non-self sufficient, non-sustainable drink, we have to admit that we do like some exotic tastes in our lives on special days… For the required ‘eau de vie’, ‘moonshine’ or vodka, we use our own distilled fruit liqour ‘palinka’.
Be mindful while handling the walnuts; they stain everyting they touch!
Vin de Noix (French walnut wine)
20 – 30 green walnuts, 3 liters of red wine, 1 liter eau de vie (or vodka), 750 gr. Sugar
Chop the walnuts lengthwise in quarters. Put the walnuts in a glass container and add the alcohol. Let sit for 1 week, then add the wine. Let infuse for 45 days, then add the sugar. Stir well so all the sugar will disolve. Strain very well (cheesecloth works well). Now bottle and put in a cool dark place to mature (at least 1 month).
Nocino (Italian walnut liquor)
24 (-30) green walnuts, 2 cinnamon sticks, 5 whole cloves, 1-inch piece of vanilla bean, zest of 1 lemon, 500 grams of granulated sugar, 1 liter moonshine/eau de vie/vodka.
Mix all the ingredients in a glass container. Let sit for 6 weeks, stirring or shaking gently daily. Strain well (add more sugar to taste), bottle and let age. In the beginning it might taste a bit bitter but it gets more mellow over time. Best after 1 year.