Homemade Nocino: Green walnuts & boozy infusions


Usually when I think about infusing booze with something, it’s fruit. Take last year’s rumtopf experiment for example. But this year my husband convinced me to try something different – a green walnut infusion, known by Italians as nocino.

I’ve had nocino before (from a batch my husband made) and wasn’t too impressed. The flavor was interesting, full of spices and citrus notes, but it was served straight up it and burned like firewater. I like things boozy but I can’t handle things that are that strong. I found out later it was made from Everclear — no wonder!

This time around my husband wanted to make it with vodka instead which was much more appealing to me. He also said he wanted to play around with the finished liqueur, so instead of serving it up we could mix it into ice cream bases or cocktails. Mentioning boozy ice cream is pretty much the way to my heart so it was an easy sell.

A hundred and one green walnuts later, we got to work:

We settled on this recipe from David Lebovitz, altering it only slightly by using orange zest instead of lemon.

To begin the project we had to quarter all of the nuts:

Green Walnut

Green Walnuts

Next we added all of our spices to the vodka along with some sugar:

Making Nocino

Making Nocino

Cinnamon, cloves, vanilla beans and lots of walnuts!

Making Nocino

Sugar, vodka, orange zest and spices

Then came the nuts:

Making Nocino

Then a good stirring:

Making Nocino

Making Nocino

If you’re won over by the vibrant green color as much as I was — don’t get too attached! All it takes is 24 hours before the liquor inside becomes squid-ink black. And in the 6 months it needs to infuse, it will only get murkier.

Let’s just hope it tastes delicious!

Homemade Nocino!

Homemade Nocino!

** I started this post in June and because summer got away from me, I’m only finishing it up today. So you’ve probably missed your chance to start your own batch of nocino. But this winter, when we crack ours open, I’ll let you know if it’s worth it. (My guess is yes!) **


10 thoughts on “Homemade Nocino: Green walnuts & boozy infusions

  1. all over the homemade spirits! Am picking crabapples from a neighbor’s tree so I can make round two of crabapple liqueur 🙂 Liking your idea of ice cream stir-in or pour-over. Dreamy 🙂

  2. Oh, wonderful—can’t wait to hear how this turns out! I adore the vin de noix you get as an aperitif in SW France. Are these green English walnuts? I’m not sure I could find those here. We have black walnuts growing on our property in abundance, but I fear they’re too hard even in their unripe stage to cut.

    • You know I’m not sure on the varietal. My husband got them from a local farm but besides that I’m clueless. I got the job of splitting them while my husband went jar shopping and let me tell you — after 75, my hands were hurting from the knife. But I’m excited — I love a good project!

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