There are a couple of black walnut trees on the property of my principal workplace. I typically leave the nuts be, because they are so difficult to crack, requiring special equipment to do it correctly. This year, I made the decision not to let this bounty go to waste- I decided to make nocino, a traditional Italian liqueur made by steeping unripe walnuts in grain spirits, for the first time. This recipe (technically for a French liqueur de noix- same difference, da vero?) looked promising, so I went to work.
In a short period of time, I was able to pick a bag of unripe nuts, enough to make a nice batch of liqueur. Here's a picture of my nutsack:
The thick husks of the unripe walnuts have a lovely green color and a strong aroma reminiscent of citrus fruits. They look much like pears until you cut them open to reveal the characteristic shape of the developing walnut:
The nuts, cut into eighths, went into a jar with the requisite spices, and then I poured in the pure grain alcohol left over from my latest batch of limoncello (about half a cup) and some cheap vodka- David Lebovitz' quote on this matter is worth repeating: Use the absolute (not ‘Absolut’) cheapest vodka you can find. It’s lunacy to use something pricey when the least-expensive swill yields similar results. And believe me, French peasants ain’t cracking open bottles of Stoli to make this.
Now, the wait begins... from what I've read, it's madness to even consider opening the jar until two months have passed, and an actually enjoyable product should result by Christmastime. By that time, the walnut stains on my hand should be gone.