I can often be found in the kitchen brewing up an assortment of strange foraged concoctions such as milkweed or elderflower cordials, elderberry gin, blackberry syrup or various herb vinegars. Ed joined me recently, taking the lead on the latest libation: vin de noix, otherwise known as green walnut wine.
He was inspired by the main character in a detective novel. Bruno is chief of police in a small village in the south of France. He lives in a restored shepherd's cottage, shops at the local market, and makes his own vin de noix. What? Makes his own what?
Turns out vin de noix is a home decoction obtained by macerating green walnuts in wine and vodka for 40 days and then bottling it and waiting until December 1 to partake. Known since the sixteenth century for its therapeutic qualities, today it is consumed as an aperitif or digestif. Sounds like our cup of tea!
The one thing we have plenty of at Farm Dover is walnuts. We've planted a field of 100+ black walnut trees and there are hundreds (maybe thousands!) of native ones growing all over the farm. The walnuts for this recipe need to be picked while they are still green and milky with very tender kernals. In France, the green nuts are traditionally picked on the Fete de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, celebrated on June 24.
So Ed picked the green walnuts back in late June and set to making the liqueur. For the past 40 days, the inky black infusion has been stored in a dark cabinet in our laundry room. Every couple of days, we'd give it a stir.
Turns out versions of this drink are produced throughout Europe. Italy has a walnut liquor called nocino, made with alcohol, but no wine. And Jack's girlfriend Kasia sent me a secret recipe from her grandfather in Poland who makes a vodka-based version, that includes caramel. Next June we will put it to the taste test.
Back to our walnut wine experiment... Last week, Ed strained the walnuts out of the liquor and bottled it. Stay tuned for the uncorking on December 1. It is recommended that it be served ice cold with a mandelbrot, biscotti or buttery cookie. Especially nice in front of a crackling fire. Sounds tasty, doesn't it?