Nocino is a typical Italian liqueur made from unripe green walnuts dipped and let macerate for months in a syrup of alcohol and sugar.
Traditionally, it is customary to prepare Nocino Italian Walnut Liqueur in early summer, with the walnuts collected on the night between June 23 and 24 – for this reason Nocino is also called “San Giovanni Liqueur”.
In Italy, it’s not possible to talk about the Nocino Liqueur without talking about the Summer Solstice celebrations.
It is a popular belief that the previous night, June 23rd, is considered a magical night, in which anything can happen; it is the shortest night of the year and a symbol of light that overcomes the hidden forces of nature and casts out the evil eye.
Story goes that precisely at midnight on this night, in ancient times women went out barefoot to go and collect the walnuts that they would have used to produce the Nocino.
You would wonder why do walnuts collect for San Giovanni. That’s because at this stage walnuts are still soft, the shell is still soft and surrounded by the green pulp that will dry out shortly thereafter.
Nocino is a liqueur with an ancient recipe, and making it home-made is very easy!
I would like to be able to describe with words the intensity of the perfume and the flavors melted and confused inside this so simple and so ancient liqueur. But to better understand what I mean, you have to taste it!
Moreover, making the Nocino at home is also very cheap compared to the expensive purchase that can be made in a store. Even cheaper if you or a friend are lucky enough to have a walnut tree in the garden!
All you need is time and patience. Once prepared, in fact, Nocino must rest for at least 3 or 4 months in a dark place, so that it will be ready in winter.
A tip to know if or when the walnuts are ready to make Nocino: just sink the tip of a knife into the green walnut. If the knife comes in and touches the hard shell, the nut is too old to be used. If the knife well enters and the inside is soft and firm, the walnut is at the perfect point.
Still a superstitious secret: Walnuts must be absolutely in odd numbers to bring good luck to those who prepare this liqueur!!
Nocino has an intense and full-bodied taste and aroma, is an ideal liqueur for the winter months and is a valid digestive for the presence of tannins in the husk will warm up the nights ahead and a crackling fireplace.
It should be served at temperature or cold, as a digestive or to even to flavor cakes, custards and ice creams.
- 30 green walnuts (not dried) with their husk
- 1 lt. alcohol at 90 ° or higher
- 800 gr. of sugar
- 5 cloves
- 1 stick (or 1 tbsp) of cinnamon
- 3 untreated lemon zest
- 400 ml. water
Clean the walnuts without washing them, rubbing them with a cloth and cut them into four parts.
Put the walnuts in an airtight jar (at least 2 lt. Capacity) with the cloves and the lemon zest.
Cover with alcohol, close tightly and let macerate for 40 days, gently shaking the container 3 times a week.
As time goes by you will notice that the mixture starts to become dark, almost brown, the typical color of the nocino.
After 40 days, filter the infusion with a very thick strainer and remove the walnuts, cloves and lemon.
Prepare a syrup by dissolving the sugar in 400 ml of hot water. Cool the syrup and then mix with the infusion in the jar. Close the jar and leave to macerate for 20 days in the dark, mixing twice a week.
Filter the nocino again with a cloth or a colander.
Bottle and close the bottles tightly.
If you enjoyed this recipe and want to learn how to make other typical Italian liqueurs at home, also try our recipe for Limoncello or Cherry Liqueur.
You will wonder at how easy and tasty it is to prepare these syrups with your own hands!
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