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Nocino - green walnut liqueur

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Last night I picked a green walnut from a tree around the block and remembered that I had been wanting to learn more about nocino. Googled it and found it is traditionally started on June 24th in honor of San Giovanni. As usual a day late..... Anyone made it? I've never tasted nocino so would appreciate detailed description of flavor, color, etc. before I raid the tree.

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  1. Nocino is hard to describe, delicious but hard to put into words how so. I've tried a couple different recipes and my favourite so far starts with vodka and aromatics (juniper, spices, etc.), which are later filtered out and a small ratio of red wine is added. This then sits for quite a while; between the green walnuts and the juniper you need to give it a while to mellow, like a year. Really, some recipes will say less time is needed but, if you taste it in six months and it's akin to lighter fluid, keep waiting. The transformation will come, and you'll have something very unique and hard to find done well in this country. Where do you live? Zuni in San Francisco has a nice one on their dessert wine list. Let me know if you need help finding a more exact recipe. I googled to find mine, and then came up with a combo recipe.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rabaja

      There seem to be (at least) two variations, one involving red wine, one not. And the spices vary considerably. Would you be willing to share your recipe? Well, I live in Napa so I can and will make the pilgrimage to Zuni, or JV.

      1. re: Junie D

        The stuff with red wine is the French version called vin de noix. The stuff made with grain alcohol and/or vodka is the Italian nocino.

        I made both this year. I think I prefer the vin de noix but the nocino from a year ago is starting to get good.

        1. re: rainey

          Yes, I'm finding the nocino is best after AT LEAST a year, maybe two.

    2. My recipe comes from a friend in a town near Parma's mother. I've made it seven or eight years. I published it in my newsletter The Curmudgeon's Home Companion in 1998. It adjusts for the fact that we can only get 50% alcohol (100 proof) and they are getting about 98% alcohol by reducing the amount of local fizzy wine. However I feel in California green walnuts at the end of May are closer to right because sometimes by June 24 the shell under the skin is aready hardening.

      Nocino della Nonna Emilia

      25 green walnuts, about the size of home-grown apricots, according to Nonna Emilia
      3 cloves
      1 stick cinnamon
      peel of 1 lemon (yellow part only; the white pith is too bitter)
      1.25 liter of vodka, 100 proof
      3 cups sugar
      1⁄4 liter of cheap sparkling wine (I used Tott’s)
      1. Soak the walnuts overnight to draw out any worms and other impurities.
      2. Quarter them and put them into a large jar with all other ingredients. Place in a sunny spot, sealed, for at least 40 days; 2 months is better. Shake every few days.
      3. Strain and bottle the liquid. Let it sit for another month or two, minimum. At that point it’s drinkable, but if you can, put a few bottles away to age. After two or three years it really becomes something special.
      Note: Thrifty Italians make a second, less potent liqueur by adding 2 cups of alcohol, a cup of sugar, and a bottle of cheap sparkling wine to the solids you filter out of the nocino. Let the mixture stand another couple of months, shaking occasionally. Drink unceremoniously.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Curmudgeon

        Many thanks. I missed the recipe as I have only been a subscriber/president of your fan club since 2000 or 2001. I think I have to try it because I can't wait till next May, can't resist Nonna Emilia, could cut through the shell of my experimental walnut easily with a paring knife. Plus I have a $5 bottle of drinkable cava in the fridge.

        1. re: Junie D

          Thanks, I'm waiting for my fans to reproduce themselves. I do know that some people put a juniper branch in the jar, but Nonna Emilia didn't. I like the flavor a lot, but sweet liquors are not too popular right now. When I moved I lost my easy access to green walnuts, but I think I have enough bottled to last me a long time. The best way to describe this is that it has the aroma of Christmas.

          1. re: Curmudgeon

            One child here - I'll have to work on other people's kids. Started the nocino last night. My fingertips are brown from cutting the walnuts and I am already shocked by the intense green of the liquid. The smell of the walnuts I would describe as 'green' like pine but much more subtle. They smelled good. So I can see why you say nocino has the aroma of Christmas, especially with the cinnamon, lemon and cloves.

            The sides of walnut quarters floating above the liquid are turning black. Inevitable? Also, will it grow mold sitting in the sun for weeks? I'm betting the alcohol will prevent that but there is a lot of sugar and I once made this moldy raspberry-infused liqueur....

            1. re: Junie D

              I am searching my Westchester, NY neighborhood for walnut trees. I really want to try making nocino.

              I wonder if the aging in the sun idea is necessary or even very good? Personally I would age it cool and dark, and let it age much longer to slowly develop the flavors.

              The reasoning is probably to provide warmth to so the alcohol extracts more flavor faster. BUT, in general, light and heat definitely deteriorate flavors, and colors can be bleached. I have seen and tasted bottles of vibrantly colored liqueurs that sat in the sun of a window display at a wine shop for one-two weeks be completely bleached pale or creamy white and get a nasty flavor. I assume this is from UV degradation and enzyme reactions.

              I did some recipe searches on nocino and there were just as many that said to age it in a dark place, and some said cool and others warm.

              Almost all the recipes I have ever seen for other liqueurs and cordials say to keep in a cool, dark place. Dark to prevent UV effects, and cool to slow down flavor absorption, because higher temps can cause off and bitter flavors.

              I wonder what the flavor difference would be if you split a batch in half and did one in a dark, room temp place vs. the warm, sunlit place? UV bleaching doesn't seem to be much of an issue since the liqueur is very dark, maybe it would have more color to it besides looking like used motor oil?

              I do know that commercial nocino makers age it in cool, dark, places in oak barrels for four to six months before filtering and then age it another six to eight months to slowly develop the flavors. After at least a total of one year aging it is then bottled.

              1. re: Junie D

                Sorry, I was working on the newsletter. The nocino will all turn a dark brown eventually. It sometimes gets yellower first. Seems like magic. Shake it up occasionally--like once a week. I really have come to love that smell of the green walnuts.
                No, I meant reproduce in terms of recruit more subscribers.
                BTW I have about 50 recipes from my grandparents 3 liqueur distilleries before WWII. So if you ever need a recipe for Enzian (Edelweiss Liqueur) or something very odd let me know. Most of them are 95% alcohol wich has aromatic roots or whatever sit in it for 24 hours.

                1. re: Curmudgeon

                  Hello,
                  I have an excess of 95% alcohol and free time. I would love to tryout some of your grandparents' recipes. Where were their distilleries located?
                  Thank you,
                  Shawn

          2. re: Curmudgeon

            That sparkling wine is pretty eccentric. Italian recipes usually include only walnuts, pure alcohol (Everclear), sugar, lemon zest, cloves, sometimes other spices, and water.

          3. David Lebovitz has a simple formula for nocino in his book Room for Dessert, as well as a great-sounding recipe for nocino custard.

            Sorry- too lazy to type it!

            1. There's a thread on Nocino at the Home Cooking board. It's probably too late for this year but Jim Haag at

              www.Walnuts.US

              sold me ten pounds of green walnuts which are steeping in 4.5 liters of 100-proof Smirnoff. They've been there for 5 weeks; come Friday I'll pour off the liquid and add flavorings. My recipe calls for cinnamon, 20 coffee beans (!), and 750 ml. of red wine reduced with sugar to make a syrup; the mixture gets another 3 weeks' aging after adding these. So in about 4 weeks I'll either have 5 liters (more or less) of yummy Nocino, or something I can use to kill trout in the Sacramento River... nah, just kidding.

              1. I'm in Seattle, and the nuts on our tree are small apricot sized, but I just cut into one, and the nut hasn't formed yet, just a clear liquid where the nut will be, and no hard shell forming yet. Should I wait until these are a little more mature to make the liqueur? What is the optimal stage of walnut development?

                Thanks.

                1 Reply
                1. re: babette feasts

                  Hm. The ones I got from Haag were about the size and color of limes and were firm all the way through. You could email him for information--I don't know about the actual growth process.

                2. June 24th approaches - anyone making nocino this year?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Junie D

                    I got my walnuts from Jim Haag 2 weeks ago and I have some nocino and vin de noix in process right now.

                    1. re: joshekg

                      Great! Willing to share your recipes?

                      1. re: Junie D

                        For the nocino far I just have 2.5 lbs of split green walnuts sitting with about 2 liters of everclear (153 proof - highest available in CA). At some point I will add in some spices; cloves, cinnamon and vanilla seem to be common additions, I am not sure how much/which I will add yet. I plan on adding some more everclear to the jars, I just happened to run out and haven't made it to the store to get more.

                        For the vin de noix I have 3 liters of red wine (was $5 a bottle at whole foods) mixed with 2.5 lbs of split green walnuts. I plan on adding another 4 liters of wine to this, I just didn't have a big enough jar when I first started. Again I will add some spices at a later point to this and will also fortify/sweeten it much later.

                        Sorry if the recipes are a bit vague at this point, but I haven't decided on the spicing for either yet.

                        1. re: joshekg

                          Thanks. Have you made these before and how did they turn out? I ask because I made nocino for the first time last year and am not sure I love it. It reminds me of Coca-Cola. But I haven't tried it in a few months, so we'll see.

                          If you want guidance on the nocino spicing, Curmudgeon's Nocino Della Nonna Emilia is above in this thread.

                  2. Just like to revive this thread every year. The walnuts are green. Is anyone making nocino? The stuff I made in 06 is now mellowed and pretty good, but only pretty good - I still think it tastes like Coke. The main draw for me is doing the same thing on the same day each year.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Junie D

                      Junie,

                      My first foray into Nocino was on Santa Cruz Island (Channel Is Natl Park) in 1995. A researcher from UCSB and his grad student were swapping a shot glass (sipping) and alternating with mint M&Ms (amazing combination). He has been making this recipe for decades and I tried my first batch with home-grown walnuts in LA back in '97.

                      This year, I finally ordered 5 lbs from Jim Haag (now live in NYC) and I got them macerating this past weekend.

                      Here is his recipe:
                      30 walnuts (quartered)
                      4.5 C 180-proof (I used 200-proof) grain alcohol
                      1 cinnamon stick
                      1 vanilla bean
                      3 cloves
                      zest of 1 lemon
                      rind (without pith) of 1 orange

                      -usual 30+ days of maceration, add simple syrup (3.5 C to 2 C H2O)
                      -steep another 15-30 d, decant, store in dark bottles

                      You can always try a different recipe each year on Festa di San Giovanni Battista

                      1. re: momoe

                        THANKS for posting your recipe and stories. How do you drink it - when you aren't drinking it with mint M&Ms?

                    2. It is that time of year again. Any nocino plans? My 2007 nocino just now tastes pretty good to me. Maybe it had to age that long.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Junie D

                        Hey Junie
                        You're not alone. This year a friend and I made limoncello as practice for Nocino. That was good practice for us and we've started our Nocino making.

                        (We're finding the late June walnuts are a little too far along, but we're still going ahead with our Nocino making plans.) Between the two of us we're trying three recipes, all using vodka as the base alcohol and ascribing to the "maceration it in the sun" school. More news in 40 days...

                        1. re: OllieG

                          Can Nocino be made using Black Walnuts (green ones), or must they be English Walnuts? Lots of Black Walnuts around here.

                          1. re: watercress

                            I don't know what's different about the walnuts or if Black walnuts can be used. What I find interesting is that the green walnuts turn black as ink within a day in the Nocino jar. If I were you I'd try it out and see what happens.

                        2. re: Junie D

                          I am making some in Pays Gex, in the French countryside just across from Geneva. We have tons of walnut trees growing wild here, so it was just a matter of going for a walk in the neighborhood. 55 walnuts, 3 liters of pure grain spirits, 2 lemon peels, 20grams cinnamon, 10 grams cloves, 10 grams juniper berries, 750 grams sugar, in a fermenting bottle. Looking good so far.

                          1. re: bouckap

                            Juniper berry! That's cool. Did you have a recipe using the berry or is that your own customization?
                            My main jar just has the alcohol and walnuts. The recipe I'm following for that one never has the walnuts in the jar at the same time as the spices and sugar.

                        3. Hello Green Walnut Lovers!

                          I have an idea which may interest some of you, especially those who find themselves in the middle of making the 2009 Green Walnut Wine, be it Vin de Noix, Ratafía or Nocino, the 3 most common traditions of making this aperitiv.

                          Here is what i have in mind:

                          The world and the process of making things is a world in itself. It has an inner life and an outer life. The inner one is the satisfaction of being creative. The outer one is simply the joy of sharing the idea or letting others enjoy the endproduct.

                          There is a special and subtle process currently starting all over the world. Some in the italian manner, some french style. It is the process of making green walnut wine, Vin de Noix or Nocino. The matter here is much less a decision in which direction to go, but the experience, the time taken and needed to see the results, as well as the joy of drinking it at the end for months unend... until the next June comes.

                          I wish to invite individuals from different parts of the world to join me in forming a small place, where some could place all they wish about their making of Green Walnut Wine, while others could drop by and read and see about what we are doing. The principal aspects of this project is sharing information, sharing pictures and sharing knowledge, perhaps even sharing joy in the end.

                          So herewith i invite you to join and post in my blog. Needless to say, this blog will connect to any participants blog, especially if they have some green walnut information themselves.

                          please drop by:
                          www.greenwalnut.wordpress.com

                          and if interested, please feel free to contact me.

                          cheers
                          Aristippos, the coffee dramatist

                          1. Yet another revival of this thread. I acquired 12 pounds of green walnuts this morning and am making both Nocino and Vin de Noir.

                            For the Nocino, I used four bottles of Everclear, two cups simple syrup, a small handful of star anise, two vanilla beans, and lemon zest.

                            I'm off to the store now for the Vin de Noir ingredients but I am planning on using cheap red wine, a bottle of brandy, cinnamon sticks, and orange rind.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              Yay - thanks for reviving this! I have my eye on a walnut tree down the street but given the cold, wet spring am going to wait a couple more weeks and start the nocino closer to June 24. My notes to myself over the last few years have been "when it comes to spices in the nocino, less is more."

                              1. re: Junie D

                                Junie - you might want to grab one of those and cut it open; last year, I waited and it ended up that the shells were starting to form. I literally had to put them in a large bag and hack them open with a hammer because cutting them was impossible. Better safe then sorry!

                            2. I just put up my first batch of Vin de Noix . . . I am soo excited! I used the William Rubel recipe and both recipes from Lucy's Kitchen Notebook. I'll report back on which was best. Anyone else making wine or nocino ths year?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: lissak2

                                Yes! me too. I've started a couple of batches of Nocino.
                                In San Francisco Alfieri (www.alfierifarms.com) is selling green walnuts at the Saturday and Tuesday Embarcadero farmer's market as well as Civic Center's Wednesday market.

                                In the recipe I follow, the walnuts macerate without any spices. (Filtering of the walnuts and addition of the spices occurs in August.) I also used vodka & sugar instead of everclear and simple syrup - I so hate that everclear smell. Though I hadn't made nocino previous to last year I'd say this worked fairly well for me. (Here's the recpe a friend was making that I followed: http://imacerate.wintersbite.com//blo...)

                                1. re: OllieG

                                  I got my walnuts from Alfieri as well. But, a word of warning, if you want to do this GET THERE EARLY. I had a call into them about the walnuts and they were really good about returning my call; sure enough, just minutes before I arrived at the Wednesday market (at about 9:00 a.m.!), someone came in and got a full 60 POUNDS! All that was left was one box which I bought all of.

                                  Also, most of the BevMos in town are running out of Everclear. So funny that they when I went to buy several bottles, they didn't know why there was a sudden run and most of the sales were to chefs or "little old ladies."
                                  :0)

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    60 pounds! Did they drive up with a truck!? That must have been who they confused me with when I went there to pick up my meager pre-ordered box. "Don't you want the rest?" they had asked me.

                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                      Notes to future self: Walnuts purchased at market today are very wet inside, frequently gushing a drop when cut with the cutting board overflowing before finishing a batch.

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        Carrie. last year I purchased my walnuts nearer the end of June. By the time August came around the proto-Nocino aroma was enticing. This year it doesn't seem inviting at all. As a fellow "early shopper" this year, do you think the proto-Nocino smells about right?

                                        1. re: OllieG

                                          My Everclear-based Nocino smells really strong and I have a feeling it is going to take longer to age. My schedule straining and bottling date is about two weeks from now and I'm wondering if I should let it macerate longer.

                                          My Vin de Noir (made with wine and brandy), on the other hand, smells quite smooth and accessible and I have a feeling it will be drinkable far sooner.

                                  2. I plan on starting my second batch of nocino sometime this month.

                                    Last year's batch is still aging in the cellar.
                                    I've been monitoring it's progress, but it is still overwhelmingly strong and bitter. I've read as time passes, the nocino mellows, but I haven't noticed much of a change over a year. I may need to go back and add more simple syrup and let it age further.
                                    For my first try, I used 30 walnuts, devil's springs 160 proof, 1 vanilla bean, one star anise, and half a cinnamon stick.

                                    With this years batch, I will macrate all the ingredients separately for more control.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: jerryc123

                                      Jerry, I'm really surprised you are still getting bitterness. Is it completely strained and bottled? Its not still macerating with the fruit, is it?

                                      1. re: jerryc123

                                        Hang in there, I think it takes 2 or 3 years for it to start tasting really mellow and good. I mean straining out the nuts/spices after 6 mo or so, then letting sit another year or two.

                                        1. re: Junie D

                                          If you can make heads or tails of molecular compounds this page states that 40% and 80% alcohols will extract different tastes from the walnuts

                                          http://blog.khymos.org/2009/05/13/noc...

                                          "The closest I came to some input regarding aroma was an article were 12 different phenolic compounds were analyzed in walnut extracts made with 40, 60 and 96% ethanol. Although the total phenolic content was highest when using 96% ethanol, they found that the concentration of some phenolics (protocatechuic, sinapic and p-coumaric acid) increased with the concentration of the ethanol used for extraction, whereas other phenolics (gallic, chlorogenic, vanillic and syringic acid, (+)-catechin, juglone) were best extracted with 40% ethanol. Polyphenolic compounds are normally bitter or astringent. The low molecular weight compounds are typically more bitter. With increasing molecular weight bitterness decreases whereas astringency generally increases. The solubility in water decreases with higher molecular weight. As I mentioned in a previous post on ethanol extractions this is the reason why 30-60% ethanol is most commonly used for infusions and extractions."

                                          1. re: OllieG

                                            Yes, Carrie, the nocino is strained.
                                            JunieD, thanks for re-assuring me that I can be more patient.

                                            OllieG: thanks for that helpful link - that will make interesting reading and a good base for further research. I wonder if I am making a mistake by using 160 proof. Perhaps that is extracting more 'bitter' compounds, and masking the flavor. Most people are probably using 80 - 100 proof vodka.

                                            1. re: jerryc123

                                              My only thought about Everclear vs vodka is that I used to make limoncello with Everclear and switched to vodka because I thought the Everclear limoncello was too harshly bitter. Whatever you like is the best choice!

                                        2. re: jerryc123

                                          Hi I am trying to start up my first batch of nocino and I was wondering about the size of the walnuts? A previous post says 'about the size of home grown apricots' but about how big is that? I live in Missouri so is the growing season different from that in CA for walnuts? I picked some today and the biggest are less than 1.5 inches long. Are they still useable? They are soft enough for me to cut them with my fingernails.

                                          1. re: Carmenhikes

                                            If you can cut them clean in half with a knife, then I would go ahead and use them. The ones we tend to get here in California might be a little larger; say 2" long, but if you wait too long, then you won't be able to cut them and the nut will start to form.

                                        3. I'm making Nocino tonight, starting with 1liter (plus) of vodka, about 20 green walnuts (halved) and adding zest of 1.5 Eureka Lemons, 1/2 a star anise, about 10 cloves. I'll add a cinnamon and a vanilla bean tomorrow when my stash is returned.

                                          My question is this - I'm thinking about adding either Black Cardamom (very smoky flavor) or Balinese Long Pepper (sort of a fruity/piney flavor). I thought they might add an interesting twist, but don't want to ruin my efforts. Any thoughts on either of these?

                                          I used a more traditional recipe with some coffee beans added a couple of years ago (2007?) based partially on this thread and it was a little rough/sweet/coffee flavored the first year, but this year its fantastic and has completely blended together. I guess patience, or forgetting it in the back of the pantry, is rewarded.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: mikelowie

                                            I say go for it! I love the idea of Cardamom...

                                            1. re: mikelowie

                                              You can always infuse the spices separately. When you strain out the walnuts in August, take a small mason jar of the proto nocino and add your spices. That will be your spice concentrate, and you can add it back to the rest after a month of infusing, to taste. I've been lazy with mine, and the cinnamon infusion is still in a separate jar a year later, but that seems to be how long it has taken for the main nocino to be drinkable enough that I can stomach repeated tastes as I add in the cinnamon infusion.

                                              1. re: SteveG

                                                I opened mine last night to sniff. The Nocino -- spiced with Star Anise, Lemon, and Vanilla is the more alcoholic and smells mostly of the Everclear; sharp but round with the vanilla. The Vin de Noir -- spiced with orange and cinnamon is very predominant of the orange and cinnamon. I think both are going to be unctuous, but the Nocino is going to require a lot more aging time, I think.

                                            2. Hi all,

                                              Would this work with fresh black walnuts? I live in hazelnut country, not walnut country, but I know there is one new upick farm around here that says they'll have black walnuts this fall.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Vetter

                                                I've never heard of anyone trying it. Why don't you do it and report back (although it will take a year to determine if it is a success, I suppose!)

                                                1. re: Vetter

                                                  YES! I just saw someone is selling black walnut liqueur for a lot of money. Fall will be too late, though; the walnuts have to be green, in other words no hard shell inside. This year, because it was so cool, they weren't at the right stage until mid-July. The shells have to be just barely starting to form.

                                                2. I'm gearing up to start on nocino & vin de noix tomorrow. I got my walnuts from Jim Haag as well.
                                                  Do we have to soak the nuts? Good lord, I didn't leave enough time for that!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: seejeneat

                                                    I've never soaked the nuts - just hack 'em up and add alcohol! Some recipes have the sugar/water added at the beginning and some have it added after the long maceration period.

                                                    1. re: seejeneat

                                                      I use Curmudgeon's recipe (above) which does call for soaking whole walnuts in water overnight before quartering them and putting in the vodka. Don't know if this is necessary, but it does clean off the dirt.

                                                      I LOVE how the nocino goes from neon yellow on day one, to chartreuse green on day two, to dark green to blackest black by about day six.

                                                    2. I had this delicious nocino and was startled to find that its made in California: Nocino della Cristina from Monteverdi Spirits. Smells like rum-soaked fruitcake.

                                                      http://www.nocino.com/nocino.shtml

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Yep, you can buy it at K&L locally. NoPa has one that I liked but it was a different producer.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          hello robert, this very product-N della Cristina- is the very reason I am reading this thread and wanting to try making some next yr,.though i will have to find an east coast (maybe PA) grower/vendor for the walnuts.That product is made in Napa and really amazing.but sooo expensive.

                                                        2. Actually, due to the late rain/snow in No. Cal., it's still not too late to get green walnuts, though the window is closing. I cut one of ours in half easily yesterday with a chef's knife. If someone wants any we have some -- not a lot, but some.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: lucykohi

                                                            Are they the English (Persian) Walnuts or the Black (American) Walnuts? If they are English I'd love to pick some up (if you'r near San Francisco).

                                                            1. re: peppino

                                                              They're the English/Persian type, a couple different varieties. It might be easier if I shipped them to you, rather than you coming here from SF which is about 2 hours. E-mail me off thread (as obviously anyone can do on this topic) at lucykohi05@gmail.com.

                                                            2. re: lucykohi

                                                              A neighbor here in the Delta ( east SF bay area) has beautiful green walnuts- still soft and easily split..... probably due to cooler temps this year. I put up a large jar a week ago and another jug tonight.

                                                            3. Yes. This season seems pretty late. I picked green walnuts in Hollister during July 4th weekend and worried that they weren't ripe enough.

                                                              The Nocino started this month seems to be macerating just fine. This year I didn't cut the walnuts, just put them in the jar of vodka cleaned and whole.

                                                              I'm also being careful to not get air bubbles into the vodka by shaking. Last years batch tastes like it went bad and I blame it on overzealous mixing. (Last year's Nocino turned a brown color that looked "wrong". This years is really the darkest green you can imagine.)

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: OllieG

                                                                Thanks for the advice about air bubbles. This is my first year making nocino, though we've lived here with these trees for nearly 11 yrs. If there's any other advice you haven't already posted on this thread, please let me know!

                                                                1. re: lucykohi

                                                                  I keep track of my Nocino making adventures here:
                                                                  http://imacerate.wintersbite.com///bl...

                                                                  Last year's isn't included as it wasn't palatable.

                                                                2. re: OllieG

                                                                  Nocino is supposed to be brown (almost black really). I use 151 grain alcohol here but in Italy they use 190 grain alcohol (illegal in CA). Maybe the vodka alcohol wasn't high enough and it went bad because of that?

                                                                  1. re: peppino

                                                                    "Nocino is supposed to be brown (almost black really)". Yeah. I know. Just not THIS brown.
                                                                    This guy shows how green the blackness should be, at least early on in the process.... http://blog.khymos.org/2009/05/13/noc...

                                                                    It'll turn the browser color as air participates in the reaction.

                                                                  2. re: OllieG

                                                                    There are plenty here, now- contact me at: beepatch@gmail.com if you want green walnuts for Nocino

                                                                     
                                                                     
                                                                  3. i want to thank all of you reliable posters on this thread. this is all so fascinating to me, and your generosity in sharing recipes and details- are so helpful!. I'm in boston and next yr can hopefully start my first batch. I'm curious> i may end up with more walnuts that i can use for nocino etc; have youall ever tried pickling them and what do they taste like, with what texture? Hagg Farms' site has a recipe but no description. thanks much!

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                      I found this thread after buying, on a whim, green walnut preserves from an ethnic store. Ingredients: green walnuts, sugar, citric acid, spices. I bet that if you end up with extra, you could try something similar: make a jam out of it.

                                                                      This seems similar:

                                                                      http://greekfood.about.com/od/traditi...

                                                                      1. re: lapelosa

                                                                        la, how thoughtful of you! i'm gonna do it! what are you liking your preserves with?

                                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                          Well, right now I'm very frustrated by the lid -- I've been trying to open the jar since yesterday, with no luck. So, to try the preserves, I'm going to have to wait until I can ask for help.

                                                                          That said, I'm a great lover of jam -- I was very tempted by the pistachio preserves and the orange blossom preserves on the same shelf, but made myself exercise self control and just buy one -- and I'm looking for other ways to eat jam other than just on toast. So I asked the store owner what's a good way to eat the green walnut preserves, and he said that you could just eat it with a spoon. Alternately, he suggested, you could eat it with feta -- the salty goes well with the sweet.

                                                                          I want to get this damn jar opened!

                                                                          1. re: lapelosa

                                                                            have you tried banging the lid edge on a brick/concrete/heavy iron surface? or run under hot water a while?

                                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                              Right after I made this comment, I finally ran hot water over the jar. Once it dried off and I could get a grip, voila, it popped right off. I felt silly.

                                                                              I got feta cheese today. Am eager to try it later combined with the green walnut preserves.

                                                                              1. re: lapelosa

                                                                                that sounds like such a good combination!

                                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                  Last night I finally had the green walnut preserves with fresh feta made by the woman I buy my milk from, and I can report that, indeed, the combination is absolutely fabulous! Mmm.

                                                                    2. It's that time of year again. Last year's batch has mellowed into deliciousness, and we're one week into infusion of this year's batch. Anyone else making another go at it this year?

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: quasistoic

                                                                        My batch from last year ended up way too extracted and alcoholic. I'm going to cut it with some simple syrup and continue aging in hopes of mellowing it and not bother with a batch this year.

                                                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                          I transferred my 2011 batch from the mismatched bottles I used to age them into nice 375mL bottles appropriate for gifting today, and I noticed something interesting: distinct differences between liquor that had aged in clear glass, and that aged in darker (green and black) glass.

                                                                          To the eye, anything aged in darker bottles was much more appealing, with greater clarify and more vibrant color, tending towards more reddish hues. The stuff from the clear bottles, by contrast, was a more drab, muddy brown, with apparently more suspended sediment.

                                                                          To the palette, however, the nocino aged in clear glass was indisputably superior, with greater body and depth of flavor. The beautiful red liquid from the dark glass? Almost sour, and entirely unlike its clear-aged brethren.

                                                                          Now, it's entirely possible that the difference was not entirely due to the color of the glass alone. I, for one, have a hard time believing it. Perhaps I just didn't clean my bottles equally, or the sugar had not fully dissolved when I initially split them into bottles for storage. It definitely deserves more investigation.

                                                                          I'm not sure I'll be the one to do that investigation, though. Depends how I feel in two months, when it's time to strain and bottle this year's batch. For now, I'm keeping it all in one big, clear glass carboy.

                                                                          1. re: quasistoic

                                                                            i do my infusing and aging in large clear glass containers, generally outside in sunlight sometimes in dark and without sugar added until the final stage. But I have one question - you said you use red wine? thats a different animal than the nocino made with everclear or vodka. I tried to make a bottle of that that one year (I think haags has a recipe for it called walnut wine or some such) and it became very sour and thin tasting.

                                                                            There does seem to be a difference between light/dark during extraction, though because I mixed my two batches the year I split it an experimented, I cant help explain. Last year, though, my light-extracted non sweetened version was not as dark as I had remembered from either of the methods and prior years, even after six months of steeping in the everclear. I will try to observe more closely this time.

                                                                        2. re: quasistoic

                                                                          i'm in boston; a friend and i co-ordered the walnuts and they just arrived. i'm starting tomorrow now that i have the jars and vodka! i am planning to eventually use cardamom and coffee beans plus more, but no juniper berries. and i think i'll try a compote/chutney/jam w/ the used-up walnuts.

                                                                        3. I'm trying to make Vin de Noix, and have not spent a lot of time doing things like sterilizing the jugs, bottles and other equipment. Talking to some guys at the local brewing and winemaking store, they were telling me it's very easy to accidentally get vinegar or some other contaminating bacterial growth happening, even at a 17% alcohol level (which is around what Vin de Noix usually is)

                                                                          Has anyone here had any problem, when making Vin de Noix, of contamination? What procedures have you taken to make sure it doesn't happen?

                                                                          - Tim

                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tbessie

                                                                            Gee - I've never bothered with sterilizing; just a good washing with hot water is all I've ever done. I've been doing it for almost 20 years and have never had a batch turn to vinegar or been contaminated.

                                                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                              Was this Nocino or Vin de Noix (i.e. 40%+ alcohol vs around 17%-20%)?

                                                                              - Tim

                                                                              1. re: tbessie

                                                                                Not sure how to do an accurate test - the Nocino was definitely more alcoholic than the Vin de Noix, but both needed more sugar added.

                                                                                1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                  Oh, I just meant, were you making one or the other (not the specific alcohol content); I wanted to make sure that you were saying you didn't have any contamination problems when making Vin de Noix (since this discussion is about both, wasn't sure which you were referring to).

                                                                                  So you've made both, and had no problems with either?

                                                                                  That would be encouraging, then.

                                                                                  As for sugar - most of the recipe's for Vin de Noix I've seen (and have been making - I'm trying 2 of them) have called for a lot more sugar than seems reasonable. But perhaps it mellows and blends in well with time. I'm making one recipe with the green nuts, and another one with the green leaves (no nuts); the leaf-one is an attempt by some French fellow to duplicate the taste of a popular brand of Vin de Noix you can buy in France... it starts with maceration of the shredded leaves in eau-de-vie and sugar (no wine) for a month, shaking daily, then adding the wine for the last few days, before straining. I tasted the sugar/leaf/brandy mixture, and it actually is pretty good after 3 weeks (though not as nutty as I'd like - shredding 800 grams of leaves to the degree required in the recipe would have taken a half a day with a knife, so I didn't cut them as fine as the recipe called for, and I'm guessing that's why).

                                                                                  - Tim

                                                                                  1. re: tbessie

                                                                                    Yes, I usually make a batch of each every year and I've never had a problem with contamination. With my Vin de Noix, I use wine and brandy - I know some use just one or the other...

                                                                                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                      All the recipes I've seen call for wine and any relatively neutral spirit for Vin de Noix - either eux-de-vie or vodka, whatever's cheapest. I'm doing 3 batches - 2 with one recipe, except one has vodka and one has plum brandy (Serbian slivovitz, since real French eux-de-vie is even more expensive here); the third is the leaf/plum-brandy mixture. It will be interesting to see how it all works out.

                                                                                      1. re: tbessie

                                                                                        Re the contamination issue, I started my first batch of vin de noix this year (in addition to a big batch of nocino) and have been wondering about that myself. The recipes for vin de noix seem to vary wildly. Some, like the one I used, call for 50/50 mixes of vodka and wine, which would make the result around 25-30% alcohol, but some call for much much less, like an 20/80 ratio of vodka and wine or even lower. This results in 20% or less of ethanol - once you get under 20% I would start to get concerned, though it's not clear to me how much of the risk is from actual spoilage due to microorganisms and how much is simply from oxidation of the wine (which might not be such a big deal if that flavor is overwhelmed by the nuts and the aromatics - I'm mainly just going from the rule of thumb that even fortified wines need to be consumed soon after opening for best flavor). Does the sugar help any in preservation?

                                                                                        1. re: bigwheel042

                                                                                          Interesting - I never saw a Vin de Noix recipe that called for 50/50; most I've seen get it to the usual 16-18% you see in France. I've bumped it up a bit so they're around 19-20% (since I like them a little stronger).

                                                                                          Also, I've seen recipes that call for adding all the ingredients at the same time and macerating, or macerating the walnuts in just the brandy for awhile, then adding the sugar and wine later, and ones that call for macerating the walnuts in brandy and sugar, and then just adding the wine. It would make the most sense *to me* to macerate the walnuts in brandy for some time, then add the wine and macerate longer, then filter, and only add the sugar shortly before bottling, since I'd think the sugar would reduce the alcohol's ability to absorb the flavors from the nuts and spices.

                                                                                          Anyway, I didn't sterilize anything, so I guess I'll only find out if it works out some months down the line. I plan on sterilizing the bottles before corking, so at least I'll have taken care of that. Hopefully the several months the ingredients have sat in the carboys will give any nasty organisms time to act, so I won't waste bottling it if it looks like it's going bad.

                                                                                          I'm not so worried about oxidation - I've heard that at these higher proofs, oxidation is much less of a worry.

                                                                                          Anyway, I'll see. :-)

                                                                                          - Tim

                                                                                          1. re: tbessie

                                                                                            Like Tim, I've never seen a Vin de Noix recipe that called for wine and vodka. I've always macerated everything together and (having made the stuff for over a decade), I've never sterilized either... Just washed all the bottles in hot water by hand before bottling.

                                                                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                              Carrie...

                                                                                              Oh no, I *have* seen recipes that called for wine and vodka. In fact, most of them I've seen that are mentioned in the USA or UK use Vodka as the fortifying agent (because it's cheaper on those places). Eaux de Vie is reasonably priced in France so people use that a lot too, though I've seen French recipes that call for Vodka as well.

                                                                                              What I hadn't seen were recipes that required a mixture of 50% spirit and 50% wine. That would be pretty darn strong. :-)

                                                                                              1. re: tbessie

                                                                                                Hmmm...now I'm having trouble finding which recipe I used. This page has a couple of eccentric recipes, with the "liqueur de noix" actually having more spirit than wine and the "vin de noix" having less spirit, but still more than the typical French ratio (which seems to be in the 5:1 or 4:1 wine/spirit range). http://kitchen-notebook.blogspot.com/...

                                                                                                Maybe I'll add some extra wine to mine once the infusion at 50:50 has been going a while. Nobody's had a batch at 16-20% turn on them?

                                                                                                Also, do people prefer red or white wine? I had figured red would be preferred but even some of the French recipes do call for white.

                                                                                                1. re: bigwheel042

                                                                                                  All the recipes I've seen have used red wine. I wonder how white wine would work out.

                                                                                                  Incidentally, these websites are really useful for alcohol calculations:

                                                                                                  http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/blen...

                                                                                                  http://vinoenology.com/calculators/bl...

                                                                                                  - Tim

                                                                                                  1. re: tbessie

                                                                                                    I used white wine for mine.
                                                                                                    http://seejeneat.jenromo.com/?p=156

                                                                                                    We also found a "nocinohattan" to be pretty tasty.
                                                                                                    http://seejeneat.jenromo.com/?s=nocin...

                                                                          2. This all reminds me of a delicious green walnut /honey liquour I had in Serbia. It was dark greenish black and thick from the farm honey. I don't think it was spiced. They extracted the walnuts in slivovica. I'm going to try this with everclear and honey and see what happens.
                                                                            I've been thinking about the bittering issues also, maybe diluting with simple syrup at the beginning helps reduce that.

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Anaso

                                                                              The honey sounds like an excellent flavor with the walnuts. Please post your recipe when you make it.

                                                                              1. re: Junie D

                                                                                I made it the next day. I cut green walnuts in half and filled a quart mason jar about half full. Added .5 cups Everclear. I heated about half a cup of water and diluted half a cup of honey in it. Added to the walnuts and Everclear. I wanted to avoid extracting the bad flavors by diluting the Everclear. Haven't tried it yet, might give it a go in a month.

                                                                                1. re: Anaso

                                                                                  I don't know about adding water, haven't ever done that and
                                                                                  wouldn't ever dilute the everclear as it is the preservative.
                                                                                  Time seems to take care of the bitterness, in my experience.
                                                                                  Patience being the most difficult ingredient- at least 1 year and
                                                                                  the longer you let it rest the better it gets..... you will be rewarded.
                                                                                  I use honey to sweeten as I am a beekeeper, very nice choice.

                                                                                  1. re: cecig

                                                                                    its really the equivalent of using vodka rather than everclear, which some folks recommend...there is still plelty of alcohol to preserve.

                                                                            2. Incidentally, my attempt at Nocino seems to have gone a little awry, insomuch as the recipe I used called for lemon peel, and now, despite the vanilla, cloves and cinnamon that are also in it, the lemon is dominating. After some months or years aging, perhaps it will blend nicely, but the raw liquor is just far too lemony, and I didn't use a ton. So, users of lemon beware! :-)

                                                                              - Tim

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: tbessie

                                                                                Does anyone have a suggestion about whether I can successfully use black walnuts that have fallen from my tree--the tree is too tall to harvest young nuts, and I have to wait for the wind to blow them off. I'm in the mid-Atlantic and can pick somewhat green nuts from the ground. I'd love to try one of these recipes, but wonder if using a harder nut will give the same flavor. Thank you for any guidance!

                                                                                1. re: cosmochick

                                                                                  The harder nut will NOT work. I tried it a few years ago - using a hand-drill to get to the fleshy green part before the nut was fully developed.

                                                                                  Huge waste of time on my part. Must use only green, soft walnuts.

                                                                                2. re: tbessie

                                                                                  I have dialed back on the peel and spices in the recipe. I also think that if the peel is not just the thin yellow outermost layer it contributes significant bitterness. these flavors will mellow over time and with the addition of the sugar syrup. You cant really judge nocino at this point - we usually give it a year before starting to drink, tho obviously you can start sooner.

                                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                    Thanks Jen! Yeah, next year I'll try to make some, informed by this experience. :-)

                                                                                    I *did* use some lemon peel with a slight bit of the white under the peel, due to my inaccurate cutting skills (tho' I did my best). I think no lemon at all, or only a thumb-sized piece, would be all I really should be using next time.

                                                                                    - Tim

                                                                                3. I made some two years ago using vodka as my base and this year I am trying it with Everclear (750ml) because I understand the aromatics infuse better in the higher alcohol. I season with 1 split vanilla bean, 12 cloves, 1 meyer lemon rind, 2 sticks cinnamon and I throw in a few coffee beans as well. This year I am infusing for 40 days, then straining and adding simple syrup (3 c. sugar : 4 c. water) for another 40 days before bottling. This is supposed to reduce cloudiness. My original batch really came into its' own with flavor and smoothness after 1 year in the bottle. It was drinkable before then, just a bit "bright" tasting. Tradition dictates that an odd number of green walnuts be used 27, 29. San Giovanni would have wanted it that way.

                                                                                  1. Does anyone know how sugar content changes flavor as the brew ages?

                                                                                    In making my Vin de Noix (I'm less concerned about my Nocino attempt), there is a definite strong bitter edge to the drink. I added more sugar to try to cut that down, and it definitely sweetened it, but the bitter edge was still there in the background, and was more concentrated and marked than I would like.

                                                                                    I was wondering if I should add YET MORE sugar (and risk the end-result being too cloyingly sweet), or if aging in the bottle will reduce the bitterness, in general, and make it blend more nicely, and perhaps also reduce any cloyingness of the added sugar. I think I already added a bit too much sugar (I started conservatively, but after straining, ended up adding another 0.5 - 0.8 kilos of sugar per batch, which hasn't made it taste TOO sweet, but for all I know WILL have done so, once it has aged).

                                                                                    So - anyone know how sugar content and bitterness effect flavor after months to years in the bottle?

                                                                                    Also, finally, I noticed that the stuff I bottled already has become clear, though there is sediment on the bottom (due to my lack of interest in spending a small fortune on a serious filtering pump). I can always decant the end-product when I open a bottle, but it would be nice to have it completely clear. Has anyone found a way of getting rid of all sediment without serious filtering gear?

                                                                                    - Tim

                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: tbessie

                                                                                      How old is the vin de noix? I've noticed that the bitterness mellowed incredibly as it got closer to the one year mark. I would suggest leaving it alone for a while and if it's still bitter after a year, add some more sugar. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take any away.

                                                                                      Another thing to consider would be to play around with the addition of salt to the vin de noix. Salt will neutralize the bitterness without imparting a significant salty flavor if you add only a little. You could try taking a sample out and salting it so that you don't ruin the whole batch. I have never tried this in vin de noix, but I know salt can be used to tame the bitterness in tonic water, limes, coffee, and grapefruit, so I imagine it might work here too.

                                                                                      1. re: robhandel

                                                                                        Hi Rob...

                                                                                        Well, the Vin de Noix is very new - made it this June, and I'd just bottled it, I think, around the time I asked the question above. So adding more sugar would be an impossibility at this point. Do you tend to leave your concoctions in carboys for a year before bottling them? Unfortunately I have no place to keep them except in my kitchen, so that's not really an option for me (and I wonder how it is on the taste - most recipe's call for bottling after a few months).

                                                                                        If the bitterness mellows as much as you say, then I'm bound to have several batches that are VERY sweet. Next year I'll try a few that contain a lot less sugar (maybe half as much, or at least as much as I'd put in the original recipe before adding more), and trust to fate that it will mellow in a year or more. :-)

                                                                                        Never tried salt - interesting idea. For sure I want to experiment some more with spices and such... the Nocino I made, I used various sweet spices. The Vin de Noix, just some orange and orange peel, as I wanted to keep it very basic for my first try.

                                                                                        - Tim

                                                                                        1. re: tbessie

                                                                                          Why do you think adding sugar at this point is an impossibility? I've certainly added more sugars to my nocinos and vin de noixs a year or so later...

                                                                                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                            Carrie - well, everything's bottled. The idea of opening up the 50 bottles I've put aside, adding sugar, and bottling them again is a little daunting. :-)

                                                                                            Why? Have you opened bottles, added sugar, and rebottled? Maybe you've made fewer bottles than I have, or have a lot more space than I've got (it's my tiny apartment kitchen I'm using).

                                                                                            - Tim

                                                                                            1. re: tbessie

                                                                                              Tim - I was also in a one-bedroom apartment, but I only had about forty bottles...

                                                                                              And, yes, after a one-year tasting, I re-opened all, re-filtered, re-sweetened, and then re-bottled...

                                                                                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                                Well Carrie, to each their own. That would feel hellish to me - you have more fortitude than I do. :-) Once it's bottled, it stays bottled until it's time to drink. But if the bitterness decreases as much as said above, I will have learned my lesson and next year's batch will be better.

                                                                                                1. re: tbessie

                                                                                                  Yeah - I had to re-sweeten mine after a TWO YEAR sit. I've had some that was mellow and ready to drink after six months, but I figured after two years, it was the only way to save it as the bitterness was not going to go away.

                                                                                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                                    That's dedication for you! :-)

                                                                                                    - Tim

                                                                                          2. re: tbessie

                                                                                            In the future, if you can find the space to bulk age it at all you should consider trying it. Spirits tend to age better in larger quantities, so keeping all the vin de noix together until it's mellowed out is preferable. If you just use the walnuts, wine and aromatics, and hold off on adding any sugar until it's done you'll have less liquid to store.

                                                                                            In any case, should this years vin de noix end up too sweet you should definitely try to find room enough to save it for next year. You can always try blending it with your next batch to sweeten the new batch.

                                                                                            1. re: robhandel

                                                                                              Thanks for the suggestions, Rob! I wish I had a workshop where I could do all this stuff without getting my kitchen floor covered in sticky, sweet-smelling goo! :-)

                                                                                              I always wondered if aging WITH sugar effects HOW a liquor ages, as compared to aging without it. Do you know if there's any articles about that? Anyone experiment with that?

                                                                                              - Tim

                                                                                              1. re: tbessie

                                                                                                No problem Tim, I hope it turns out well for you. I don't know anything about how sugar affects the spirits in the case of something like nocino or vin de noix. I know that you want sugar present if you're doing fruit infusions, because the sugar helps draw out the fruit juice and flavor, but I don't know if walnuts are juicy enough for it to make a difference.

                                                                                                1. re: robhandel

                                                                                                  The green (june) walnuts I use are so juicy they splatter all over me and the area I am cutting them in so I think your point about the interaction of sugar is well taken and applicable to green walnuts as well.... at least worth exploring.

                                                                                                  1. re: cecig

                                                                                                    Interesting, cecig - I got my walnuts just a little bit too late (end of June, which is late for California, so I'm told); I could cut through most with a knife, but I wouldn't call them juicy. Some juice was released, but no real splattering.

                                                                                                    Where do you get your walnuts from? I'm looking for different sources for next year, so I could try different cultivars of walnut. This year the ones I got were Chandlers (which I think are some of the most common out here), but would like to try kinds that were closer to whatever most people in France use.

                                                                                                    - Tim

                                                                                      2. OK Chowhound Nocino fanatics - I am having an odd result with my nocino - I did my typical recipe of steeping 25 or so green walnuts in vodka with the usual array of spices; and the liquor just never turned its typical black color - I've kept it steeping for about 3 months now and its still a light pale green brown color. It smells like Nocino, but the flavor (at least with the vodka - i haven't added the simple syrup yet) is a little light as well. I am going to follow through with the rest of the process now, but if there's something I haven't done but can do, I'd like to know.

                                                                                        Anyone ever experience this or have any suggestions?
                                                                                        Thanks!

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: mikelowie

                                                                                          It sounds like the walnuts didn't oxidize properly for some reason. Perhaps they were either too ripe or not ripe enough? I believe some recipes call for leaving the quartered walnuts uncovered and exposed to air for a day or so to encourage more oxidation, you could try that in the future.

                                                                                          1. re: robhandel

                                                                                            That could be it - not sure if it affects taste which is my main concern.

                                                                                            1. re: robhandel

                                                                                              the recipes I have dont call for the exposure/oxidation step - which, it seems to me would dry out the cut surface - and I always put the walnuts directly into the alcohol. It seemed to me that my nocino was not as dark this year as in the past,but I have tried so many methods - in the closet, in the sun, sugar or no, that its hard to say what it should be. My nocino steeped for 3 months this summer, it is now resting with the spices and simple syrup prior to bottling..

                                                                                            2. re: mikelowie

                                                                                              So three months ago means you started this in late July? Where did the walnuts come from?

                                                                                              1. re: Junie D

                                                                                                I started in mid - July - the shells were very slighlty formed but i've used the walnuts from the same trees in approximately the same conditions before without this result.

                                                                                                1. re: mikelowie

                                                                                                  July doesn't make a difference except in how hard the shell is, I have even done it when they were fully formed and had to be chopped with a large, very sharp cleaver (not fun and messy).
                                                                                                  One thing that I noted in your method was that you use few walnuts. I have always used a lot - it is very dark within 2 or 3 days. Try increasing the amount of walnuts you use.

                                                                                                  1. re: cecig

                                                                                                    I'll add my own observation, that the smaller the pieces the walnuts are cut into, the greater the amount of surface area exposed, so more of the walnut juices will get into the liquid. Also, after a couple of months in wine/alcohol, I noticed that the liquid had not penetrated all the way through most of the walnuts I'd only quartered, so I knew that cutting them into 6ths or 8ths would let the liquid penetrate more deeply (and, again, extract more flavor I'd bet).

                                                                                                    1. re: tbessie

                                                                                                      maybe I'll try this and steep them for a little bit longer - i filtered the liquor the other night and the walnuts are just sitting in the empty jar now - does anyone know if there's a problem steeping for too long? one of my work friends said his got too bitter that way.

                                                                                                    2. re: cecig

                                                                                                      Thanks for the tip - I've had the same experience that it doesn't matter if the shells are formed - they were oh so slightly formed this year, and they really had the aromatics when i quartered them. I did use about 25 walnuts for maybe a liter and a half of liquor, which is what I've used in the past with good results, so I'm not sure its a lack of walnuts.

                                                                                                2. re: mikelowie

                                                                                                  My 2012 batch had this happen. I admittedly have not tasted it yet to see if the flavor is light like what you're describing (I let the infusions go for a very long time to compensate for the relatively low 40% alcohol of the vodka, since many recipes call for 50% alcohol vodka or Everclear).

                                                                                                  However, my working hypothesis is that the lack of a color change has little to do with the quality of infusion. Even a little juglone should be infusing and it should turn color, even if the concentration is low. So my theory is that something simpler happened: if you chop the nuts and throw them in the booze within a few minutes, then seal up the jar promptly after that, sometimes - especially if there is little headroom for air - there simply is not enough opportunity for ambient oxygen to oxidize the juice.

                                                                                                  Future work with the infusion (adding spices, sugar, whatever) requires you to open the jar again, and on subsequent openings ours eventually did go brown, after staying green for months in the tightly closed jar.