Yield: 14 cupsa restaurant batch. Feel free to cut this in half.
Keyword: Black Walnuts, Nocino
3lbsunripe, green black walnuts soft enough that they can be easily cut with a knife
1.75litre (7.4 cups) 190 proof everclearor substitute vodka and thin it with less water and syrup (see note)
10whole clovesor a combination of allspice or spicebush berries and cloves. You could also omit these and add 1/4 cup of good coffee beans instead.
Recommended Optional Additions
Small handful of Galium triflorum leaves or sweet woodruff Optional, but highly recommended
1cupchopped angelica stem or root Optional
2-3cupsmaple syrup or to taste, (see note)
3.5cups water (see note)
Wearing gloves, cut the walnuts in half.
Combine all the ingredients for the maceration (walnuts, alcohol, spices, and other optional additions) in a glass jar or other non-reactive container and allow to infuse for a month in a cool dark place.
After the one month maceration, strain the liquid, discard the solids. Strain the liquid through the finest strainer you have. There will be gunk in the bottom and lots of black-mucky looking material. You may need to wash the strainer during the process if it gets gunked up.
Thinning and sweetening
Add the maple syrup and water until it tastes good to you. I suggest starting by adding 3 cups of water, and 3 cups of maple syrup, and adjusting from there.
You may not want all of the syrup. It should be quite strong as this is served in small amounts, but the exact sweetness is up to you. Some people prefer it candy sweet, I like mine less-so. Do not be put off by the strong, tannic taste of the nocino at this point, it will take months for the tannins to soften.
Aging to soften the tannins
Store the nocino in air tight containers, such as mason jars and allow to mature for at least 6 months. Taste it occasionally and you will notice how the tannins soften over time. I often keep it in the freezer and enjoy it chilled.
On SweeteningInstead of the water and maple, you can use 5 cups each white sugar and water, or just sweeten it to your taste. This is definitely on the sweet side, as I dilute it with other things most of the time. Feel free to make it as sweet as you like. If you want to add less sweetener, just add a little more water. Using vodkaIf you use vodka, cut the amount of water in half.