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    Richmond VA, USA
  1. A particular point raised on this forum piqued my curiosity - what are the differences between Nocino that is infused in the sun or in the dark, and with a sealed top or loose top? In 2010 I decided to find out with a very basic recipe: 30 quartered walnuts from a black walnut tree 2 bottles vodka (topped up with a little Everclear) Grade B maple syrup 4 quart mason jars I split the walnuts and alcohol between four mason jars. The walnuts were a bit hard, definitely past the pin-stuck stage, but not much. I put two jars in the basement in a dark cool place, one with a sealed lid and one with a loose lid. The other two I put on the deck out back with the same lid configuration. The deck gets full sun about half the day. The walnuts didn't soak for the prescribed 60 days - only 52. On filtering, I found that the jars with loose tops rendered about 3/4 cup less than the jars with sealed tops. No surprises there! On taking a spoonful, the jar with the loose top outside had a yellowy brown appearance, while the other three were varying colors of bright green. In the bottle they all are an opaque black, but the most opaque is the one that got the most air and sun. The one with the most sediment was the one kept in a cool, dark place with a loose top. The two with sealed tops had significantly less sediment. The walnuts left behind in the jar in the dark with a sealed top were still slightly green, as opposed to the blackness of the other walnuts. After filtering, I measured 1/4 the volume of alcohol and added that much Grade B maple syrup to each. They went into the basement to mature. Every year I have tasted each of the batches. They all started out incredibly bitter, and 2014 is the first year I have enjoyed any of them - The batch that was made in the sun with the loose top has mellowed nicely but the other ones are still wanting. It's still too tannic for me straight, but it is delightful with a bit of sweetener (I have a bitter honey from Portugal that is perfect), a dash in a brandy alexander instead of creme-de-cacao (or even just whole milk), or over ice cream. Next year I plan on catching the walnuts earlier, AND, if I'm really good, this winter I'm going to attempt to make black walnut syrup by tapping the same trees to sweeten it with!