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Homemade nocino: the recipe for making an excellent liqueur


How to make nocino: the ingredients and the recipe of the traditional Modena liqueur, ideal for serving at the end of a meal!

Nocino is a liqueur characterized by a rather intense taste and a dark colour . An essential ingredient for preparing nocino is the hull or the fleshy part of the walnuts known since ancient times for its coloring properties.

According to tradition, this liqueur is prepared with fresh walnuts picked during the day of San Giovanni , June 24, to then finish the preparation at the end of October. Here's the recipe!


Preparation of homemade walnut

  1. Wash the green walnuts well and dry them
  2. Then, with the help of a knife, cut the walnuts into four parts . Pour them into a glass jar, add the cinnamon stick, lemon zest and cloves.
  3. Cover with the alcohol, close tightly with the lid and leave to macerate in a sunny position for 45 days, shaking the jar from time to time.
  4. After the maceration time, prepare the syrup : pour the sugar into a saucepan with 900 ml of water.
  5. Put on the fire and cook over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool completely.
  6. Filter the alcohol from the walnuts with the help of a fine-mesh strainer and only when the water and sugar syrup is completely cold add it to the alcohol.
  7. Mix well and bottle the liqueur in dark glass bottles. Let stand for 4 months before serving.

Alternatively, you can prepare the walnut cake .


We recommend keeping the nocino for at least a few months before tasting it , better if you can resist it for about 1 year but according to tradition it should already be ready for Christmas (since it is to be prepared from June 24th). Be careful not to keep it in the pantry too much because it could create the fund (to be discarded).

The traditional recipe of the Nocino of the Modena Nocino Order

In Spilamberto, in the province of Modena, there is the "Ordine del Nocino Modenese" association, founded in 1978 with the aim of organizing, promoting and supporting initiatives and events aimed at protecting, enhancing and spreading the ancient tradition of the nocino. Originally, the Order was composed exclusively of women and still today, even with some concessions for equal rights, the majority of the Council is represented by women.

The recipe for nocino according to the Order is as follows:

  • 1 liter of alcohol at 95°
  • 1000-1200 g of sugar
  • 1-1.2 kg of green walnuts
  • It is possible to add flavorings to taste (cloves and cinnamon). “Little is already a lot”
  1. Once collected, the walnuts must be divided into four parts and placed in a glass container without rubber seals, together with the sugar.
  2. After storing them in the sun for 1-2 days and stirring occasionally, the nuts are ready to be mixed with the alcohol and, if necessary, with the desired flavourings.
  3. The product obtained must be placed in an area partially exposed to the sun, opened and mixed occasionally, and filtered no earlier than 60 days . It is advisable to bottle the nocino in dark glass containers and/or to refine the liqueur in small wooden barrels.

The recommendations of the Order are then: the possibility of using oak or chestnut wood to refine the liqueur , provided that the cask has been adequately treated before use. Furthermore, to fully appreciate all the organoleptic characteristics of this liqueur, it is advisable to keep the nocino in a cool place for at least 12 months .

The tradition of the nocino

Walnut in preparation
Walnut in preparation

As previously explained, the traditional recipe for homemade nocino is lost from generation to generation, so much so that there is no real date that marks the creation of this nectar. It is thought that the green walnuts, still with the soft hull that surrounds them during the ripening period, were (and sometimes are still) harvested in the night between June 23rd and 24th , during the feast of San Giovanni. June 24th is the shortest day of the year and brings with it particular legends and rituals, among these it was thought that witches declaimed spells around a walnut tree on this very night.

Always to follow the traditions, the recipe should be prepared with 24 unripe walnuts, not one more and not one less.

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