There are so many things to do this time of year.
I should be distilling elderflowers, or maybe making a folk champagne from them. St John's wort is blooming and the calendula too. Don't get me started about all the berries in the back yard that need to be picked at least once a day!
Another interesting thing to try is a liqueur made from unripe walnuts. It is dark, rich, and often sipped as an after dinner digestif. Here we are surrounded by black walnuts that have their own distinctive flavor, and they are just about ready, but as you can see, we're still on the last bottle of the 4 we made in 2013. Aged to perfection. I'll probably wait until next year, but you don't have to!
There are many recipes for "no-chee-no" and here are two.
20 immature green walnuts, quartered
zest of one orange
1 vanilla bean in 1" pieces
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 liter vodka
Combine the above in glass jar for 4 to 6 weeks.
After that has steeped, make the following simple syrup:
3/4 c water
2 c sugar
(can add a little water if needed to create syrup)
Strain vodka well. Combine with simple syrup.
Age at least another 6 weeks. Better to wait a year.
Using regular walnuts from Liquor.com
(In this case, all ingredients are combined at one time, cutting one of the waiting times.)
1 liter vodka
1 c maple syrup
1 c sugar
3 c toasted and crushed walnuts
zest of 2 oranges
6 cinnamon sticks
2 green cardamon pods, crushed
2 vanilla beans
4 star anises
Combine all ingredients in glass. Steep for a month. Strain well.
There's nothing quite as pleasant as a perfect evening spent on the deck weaving lavender wands and sipping a little nocino.