Nocino – Nectar born in the night of San Giovanni Battista
Little nut, this is the translation of the dark brown liquor that adorns the dessert tables in local restaurants around Modena. Italians can make after dinner liquors from just about anything. Grappa is aged with everything from rosemary to cinnamon. Lemons or lemon leaves are combined with pure alcohol to become limoncello, a favorite among Americans. Anice and Artichokes become digestives. Nocino is made from walnuts before they mature. Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on the 24th of June. This is the traditional nights where families in Emilia Romagna will gather the young walnuts to make Nocino.
The recipe is simple. Nocino is made of 1 liter of pure alcohol (the family recipe indicates that it must be of good quality), 900 grams of sugar, 1 kg of walnuts (33-35 nuts – again the recipes indicates that is must be an odd number of nuts and never sprayed or treated with chemicals). To verify the appropriate age of the nuts they should be cut in half with a knife. They should like the one in photograph.
Nocino is prepared by cutting the walnuts into four pieces. They are then placed, along with the sugar, in a large jar with a cap and let to sit in the sun for 1 or 2 days.
The alcohol and in some family recipes cinnamon or cloves are added to mixture in the jar. The jar is now moved to a semi shaded area (3 or 4 hours of sunlight a day) and let sit for 60 days. Once a week the mixture should be gently stirred.
At the end of the 60 day flavoring period the liquor should then be strained and enclosed in dark colored jars for at least 12 months. The Nocino should be stored in a cool dark place during the 12 month period. If you have an oak barrel, appropriated cured, the Nocino can be aged in the barrel.
Nocino is found here in the US. It is usually served with after dinner biscotti or coffee. A good Nocino will have a bit of a kick but will be relatively smooth. If anyone wants to attempt to make Nocino, perhaps a pecan version, I will be more than happy to talk with you.
Tags: Digestive Modena Liquor Emilia Romagna Sommelier Food and Wine Travel Italy