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Nocino – Black Walnut Liqueur

It's time to make nocino — also known as black walnut liqueur. This dark, sticky drink comes from Italy, and so far, has been the easiest way I've found to use the abundance of black walnuts that grow all over eastern Nebraska. Shelling black walnuts for its meat is an intensive, messy process, so it's no wonder why it's so expensive to buy at the store.

The green and yellow outer layer turns black as soon as it's exposed to air, and it stains like nothing I've seen before. When working with black walnuts, wear gloves and clothes that you wouldn't mind sacrificing. Also process them outside, if possible, as any splattering might stain appliances and kitchen walls.

This recipe works best with young, smaller fruit of early summer, which are easier to split open. You can use older, bigger fruit, as shown in the photos, but they were a pain to crack open since the inner shell had too much time to mature and harden. I had to use a meat mallet, a cleaver and some…

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