Delicately nutty and subtly spiced, nocino is an Italian liqueur made with green, unripe walnuts. Making nocino is a simple way to preserve summer’s earliest harvest.
To make nocino, undeveloped walnuts are traditionally collected in Italy just after the summer solstice, specifically on June 24 and 25, when they’re still smooth, small, and not yet hard.
Like other liqueurs, nocino is easy to make, but calls for patience when giving it time to improve with age.
2 pounds green walnuts (approximately 30 count)
750 mL 80-proof vodka
3 cups sugar
Zest of 1 orange, removed in large strips with a vegetable peeler
2 sticks cinnamon
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Optional: 1 heaping teaspoon whole dark-roast coffee beans
Quarter the walnuts and place in a 1-gallon wide-mouthed glass jar.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cover the jar and let it steep for 40–60 days.
Once every few days, agitate the jar to encourage extraction. Taste the liqueur and add additional aromatics at any point.
When ready, strain the contents of the jar through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, and pour the liqueur into a clean bottle.
Store in a cool, dark place for several months. It will be ready to enjoy just in time for holiday celebrations.
Once ready, sip the nocino after dinner, or use it to flavor desserts. It’s delicious poured over vanilla ice cream and also makes for a great holiday gift for friends and family. The liqueur will keep indefinitely without refrigeration.