8. Nocillo:the tradition of San Giovanni in a liqueur!

The Nocillo tradition

Tradition has it that to prepare a nocillo well done nuts must be caught there St. John's night, The June 24th, period in which the walnuts are at their best ripening moment.

It is said that on the night of Saint John the women disappeared into the countryside equipped with ladders and baskets, but it was only the most expert who climbed under the walnut tree and carefully chose the best fruits to delicately place in the basket. The night continued around the lit fires to work with the walnuts which, cut into four parts, were placed in glass jars, in which they were left to macerate in alcohol for 40 or 60 days.

Even today, even though we no longer spend the night climbing trees, we prefer them nuts still green because they are at their best with the scents deriving from the greater presence of sap, oils and vitamins.

Once washed and cut into four parts they are left to macerate together with a large group of spices. So be careful not to let this period pass because overripe nuts are no longer useful for preparing the liqueur!

It's about a recipe which is handed down from generation to generation for one of the typical Neapolitan liqueurs. Optimal digestive used after meals, can sometimes be used as remedy for heaviness stomach, in fact it is not unusual to hear it called in the Vesuvian area up to the Sorrento Peninsula, “merecina” (medicine), for its digestive properties due to the spices and oils contained in the husk.

They will then have to move on from preparation in June 40 days before the nocillo is ready, but patience will be rewarded with an excellent liqueur much appreciated in the winter period.


The traditional recipe

21 nuts
1 liter of alcohol
Aromas: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cinchona

Method: cut the walnuts into four parts, after cleaning them, and place them in the alcohol together with the spices, close the jar and leave to rest for 40 days. During this period, shake the jar occasionally to mix the aromas.

On August 4th prepare it syrup with: 400 ml of water and 300 g of sugar; combine the syrup with the alcohol, filter with a tight cloth and bottle.

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