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Jim Dixon

Nocino (Green Walnut Liqueur) & Vin de Noix

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Wow - I think you came up with even more than I did! My first batch was picked from the tree across the street from my house on June 12 (which is pretty late for around here). I ended up with about 16 lbs of walnuts in 5 1/2 1.75 liter bottles of vodka. A week later, I picked another 5 lbs or so from a couple of other trees in the neighborhood that always ripen later. (I think the early tree is an English walnut and the two late ones are black walnuts, but that's an uneducated guess on my part.) They're all soaking away as of now.

My aim for this batch is to let it age for at least a year after straining out the nuts. I've had some indications that extending the aging period will be good for it. I'm thinking of aging some of it in unsealed containers to promote some oxidation. I guess we'll see what happens...

After a week for egullet.jpg

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I'm making six batches of Nocino this year, and I've just taken the walnuts out after a two month soak. Five of the batches look and smell great. One was yellowish instead of motor oil brown, and smelled pretty off, so I dumped it. Does anyone know why this happened?

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I've never had mine come out anything but dark brown/black, so I don't know what could have happened to your yellow batch. Were all of the batches from the same walnuts?

I strained mine off the nuts a couple of weeks ago. Interestingly, the batch that came from the tree that ripens earlier was black, but clear in the sense that it wasn't cloudy. The smaller batch (from two trees that ripen a few weeks later every year) was black but cloudy. It looked like it contained a lot of suspended gunk. It doesn't taste bad, so I figure it'll settle out sooner or later. Both batches are in the basement in their non-sealed containers. They've had a good dose of syrup added but further adjustments are expected in that department.

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Giving this thread a bump, as I'm going out for a midsummer's romp in the woods and returning with elder blow, nettles, and plenty of green walnuts! Yeah June! :biggrin:


Torren O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

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I'm passing on this year's harvest, but I poured some of the 2010 vintage for some friends on Sunday night. It's tasting very good right now.

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peebs   

I was walking along a city park yesterday and came across a tree that looked like a pecan tree, as far as its leaves went, but had these beautiful big green balls instead of green pecans.  Wahoooo!!  I've been looking for a walnut tree in my town, for the precise reason that I've been wanting to make a proper nocino.  I live in Austin, TX so pecans are in abundance but walnuts are not nearly as prevalent.  I'm assuming this is a black walnut, as I believe they are more common in the South.  

 

Anyway, I wanted to resurrect this great thread, because I came home after my find and was looking around on the internet for more information on nocino, came across this thread, and read it cover to cover.  This thread has completely opened my eyes to nocino, and something i'd never even heard of before, vin de noix!  I made a nocino a couple of years ago with green pecans, but I had no idea what I was doing.  I macerated for what was probably waaay too long, like 8 months.  It was tar-like, sediment-y, and oh-so-bitter by then, and I didn't think that could be right, so I threw it out, aaagggh!  Had I read this thread before I did that I never would have thrown it out.  I would have just packed it away in the back of my larder and forgotten about it.  Then maybe brought it out again a year or two later to discover a beautiful, nutty elixir.  It kills me because I really don't mind waiting - when it comes to making liqueurs it's so easy to just forget all about it.  It pops into your head every few months, and one thinks, "Ah, I bet my ___ liqueur will be ready soon." I like how it occurs to me without impatience (and I am not a particularly patient person).  Makes me think this uncharacteristic patience would translate well into other aged food items - cheese and cured meats, if I could ever get around to trying my hand at them!

 

Headed out now to gather the green walnuts.  I think I'll try a pecan one too and compare them.  Going to just put them up in some vodka because I happen to have quite a bit and don't really drink it.  I think I'll just macerate the walnuts themselves at first, and add spices later, because I don't want to overdo it on the spice.  I think I'll incorporate the maple syrup and a vanilla bean.  We shall see!

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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!

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haresfur   

Mid-December is green walnut time here in Victoria Oz so Chris Taylor and I decided to try our hand at nocino and green walnut pickles. I found a local grower who was willing to pick a couple of kilos for us. Our first problem was that Dan Murphy's had pulled their Polish neutral spirits from the shelves for a potential quality problem. Vodka above 40% isn't available here, probably to protect us from ourselves or some weird tax reason but we usually can get 95%, if you are willing to pay.  So, after much discussion we decided to do a small batch in my remaining spirits, a batch in Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, and what the heck, a small batch in 40% reposado tequila. We put one clove one allspice berry and a bit of star anise in each batch.

 

I think we may have packed the jars too tightly but Chris pointed out we can always dilute later.

 

The nuts for the pickles were pierced with a fork (we ignored the one recipe that specified a silver fork) and are getting their first brine soak.  Apparently hurry up and wait is the theme for using the green nuts.

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Our first problem was that Dan Murphy's had pulled their Polish neutral spirits from the shelves for a potential quality problem. Vodka above 40% isn't available here, probably to protect us from ourselves or some weird tax reason but we usually can get 95%, if you are willing to pay.

 

you guys need to start distilling your own. or just buying cheap stuff and re-distilling it to get what you want. if you ever want to give it a go, I'll be glad to answer any questions you can come up with.


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I just found the bottle of nocino I made  when I joined Egullet. So I thought I would bump the thread  even though it must be too late for green walnuts most places ….I found my bottle as I said and was excited to share my bliss! 

 

( I have caches of things all over when I die my kids are going to have a feast I swear ..I know I am not alone I bet a lot of folks here have caches of things they put by and forgot about ) 

 

I was looking for something completely different and found a whole bin of boozy based  treasures… 2 different quarts of nicely aged vanilla , 2 different batches of  nocino and a gallon of black cake fruit I forgot  ..a bottle of  cassis. a gallon of elderberry wine  and something else I can not ID yet but it smells amazing! 

 

I do not really drink, I like cooking with alcohol not drinking it ..but I am going to start ..my liver has been preserved for retirement and I plan on using it now with reckless abandon 

 

talk about hitting the lotto!

 

this evening I will go down to the beach and just sit with the old man and taste it properly 

 

 

cheers now and have a good evening 

 

I am excited! 


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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the unidentified bottle is …are you ready ..jack pot! FALERNUM!!!!! oh my freaking goodness how did I "forget" THISS??????? ok just sharing because I know someone here will understand my bliss ..and my headache today ..wtf was I thinking 

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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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lesliec   

For the second year running since I determined to make some nocino, I feared I would again be possessed of ample alcohol but lacking nuts.  Stop sniggering up the back there, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

 

But no:

Walnuts.png

 

Thanks to some kind friends in Palmerston North I'm at last able to give it a try.  And just in the nick of time, too; unfortunately I had to discard quite a few of the walnuts as they'd already formed shells.  But enough were fine that I should end up with somewhere north of three litres of finished nocino, which is not to be sneezed at.

 

So it's on the way:

Nocino_start.png

 

It now has to sit by the window until March, at which point it gets filtered and sweetened.  Further reports will follow.  Wish me luck!

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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lesliec   

After two 40-day periods - the first with just solids and alcohol (75%) the second after straining and sweetening - I have a result:

 

Nocino_finished.png

 

Just a shade under five litres of product, and not bad, either.  I can certainly taste the cinnamon in the recipe, but I don't think it's as dominant as it was a month ago.  I'll be very interested to follow it as it ages, if my friends and colleagues don't drink it all first (and of course make some more in another eight months - I think I've now spotted two walnut trees closer to home).

 

At the sweetening stage I varied the recipe - it called for far more simple syrup than my tastebuds deemed desirable, so I stopped adding it with a litre or more left over.  As a result, the end result was around 49% alcohol by volume - great mouthfeel, but really a bit much for this kind of drink (and just over three litres, which possibly wouldn't last long).  By adding another 1.8 litres of water I've got the alcohol down to 30%, which seems more reasonable but still feels pretty good in the mouth, and the bonus is I now have nearly ten 500ml bottles rather than six and a bit.

 

If you've got acess to green walnuts and like an after-dinner liqueur from time to time, I recommend this.  It doesn't take much effort beyound the initial cutting up of the walnuts, and the end result is very pleasant.  Or 'rather nice', as it says on the label. 

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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lesliec   
2 hours ago, jamesglu said:

Looks very good, Colonel! Perhaps a blind taste test when you're next in Oamaru is in order!

 

I believe you may be right.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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lesliec   

'Tis the season, at least in this hemisphere, to make nocino again.

 

I managed this year to find a source of walnuts that enabled me to pick them straight from the tree at a time closely corresponding to what would be St John's Day above the equator.  And they were beauties:

 

Nuts1.png

 

It occurred to me that I have never before in my life picked walnuts, so that's something.

 

They were perfect inside.  Not a trace of shell and plenty of juice:

Nuts2.png

 

I was surprised to note how 'salty' they smelled when cut - almost like seaweed. This is not something I've ever read about.

 

But something most of the recipes do mention is that one should wear gloves while cutting these things up.  Maybe ...

Nuts3.png

 

It's not that bad.  A few hours later it's a little darker, but unless you hold your walnuts in a very odd way when you cut them up, nobody's going to mistake you for a heavy smoker.

 

I'm trying a different recipe this year.  I wasn't entirely happy with last year's batch - it's pleasant, but I thought the cinnamon was a little too dominant.  So this year I'm using this one from Epicurious.  I liked the addition of the coffee beans.  They strike me as a very complementary flavour to the nuts themselves.  And I had sufficient walnuts to more than triple the recipe!

 

So it's now all set to spend several weeks in a sunny spot.  This is pre-strirring, hence the heap of orange/lemon peels at the top:

Nuts4.png

 

The only problem I had is noted here.  Ahem.

 

I have quite a good feeling about this batch.  The next significant step isn't until 6 February, when I bottle it, but I'll report on progress over the next few weeks leading up to that. 

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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lesliec   

Three or four days in, this batch is moving nicely through the 'evil witches' brew green' phase towards the 'black as your heart' stage:

Nuts 31_12.png

 

Only another 36-odd days to go ...

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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I don't think I have ever seen a walnut when it was still that green!

 

Apparently I have led a sheltered life.

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lesliec   

Indeed, you may have to accept that this is the case!

 

The idea is to get them before the shell forms, which is determined by being able to insert a pin or needle with minimal resistance.  The ones above certainly qualified.

 

A week or two further on, most of the sugar has now dissolved and the brew, while looking suitably vile, smells great.  The saltiness seems to have gone, which I have to say is a relief.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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lesliec   

I forgot myself and left everything soaking for an extra week, but I can't imagine that having any effect on the final product.

 

Straining the solids out (may disturb young or nervous viewers):

Used nuts.png

 

Not a pretty sight.The lumpy things are of course walnuts, and the strips are orange or lemon peel; the whole stained black by six weeks or so stewing in their own juice, as it were.

 

I started with some 2.6 litres of 40% spirit and the final yield was 4.3l, which means the alcohol level is around 24%.  I'm a little worried about the taste, which starts well but finishes very bitter and astringent, but with luck the empyreumatic (lovely word!) process by which things like absinthe mellow and lose their initial 'dried herb' character over time will also help make this drinkable in a few months.

 

If not, in the immortal words of Winnie-the-Pooh: 'Oh help AND bother.'  But for now, we wait and hope:

Bottled nuts.png

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Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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haresfur   
3 hours ago, lesliec said:

I forgot myself and left everything soaking for an extra week, but I can't imagine that having any effect on the final product.

 

I started with some 2.6 litres of 40% spirit and the final yield was 4.3l, which means the alcohol level is around 24%.  I'm a little worried about the taste, which starts well but finishes very bitter and astringent, but with luck the empyreumatic (lovely word!) process by which things like absinthe mellow and lose their initial 'dried herb' character over time will also help make this drinkable in a few months.

 

If not, in the immortal words of Winnie-the-Pooh: 'Oh help AND bother.'  But for now, we wait and hope:

 

De nada. I let my last batch go for close to an extra year. Actually I think the jar where I used tequila might still be going. Better check on it, I suppose. The main issue with the extra time was that the spices came out too much. But still quite drinkable.


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