vin de noix part I

by Sirje

(This entry is about gathering the nuts and knowing what to look for. For the actual recipe, click here to check out my post Vin de Noix Part II)

So there’s one patently awful setting on hipstamatic for iPhone, which I seem to have a knack for accidentally using. It makes me dizzy and it looks like everything was dipped in a strong black tea. Argh.

It was a gorgeous bright blue day today! I swear!

What I was TRYING to take photos of here was a beautiful farm a few valleys over, where the owners, whom we happen to know, breed deer (aka venison, aka Bambi) and maintain a gigantic swath of forest. The farmhouse is about 700 years old, and it’s just beautifully maintained. Old beams galore. But I’m a sucker for deer babies so there’s no house photo to share. Sorry.

You may notice a few blurry splotches of tan and black here in the middle ground. Those are deer, and deer babies, looking at me on high alert. They’re not really into people, so they keep their distance. The babies just pop out overnight, and by the next day they’re up and running. Mostly tan, a few black ones as well. Black deer!

The farm is also home to a number of happy chickens, bees, and fruit trees of every imaginable flavor, including, fortunately, walnuts!

I decided to try my hand at vin de noix, or walnut liqueur, this year. It’s the sort of thing that is awful store-bought, barely good enough for cleaning wounds, but heavenly when hand made. But to make it, you need to get your paws on plenty of fresh-picked green walnuts, picked just at the right time, and get immediately down to business. Our friends have several trees with delicious nuts, and they’ve just now (June 21) reached the stage where they are quite big– golf ball sized– but still soft enough to easily cut with a good knife.

So we picked up about 2 kilos this morning, and tonight we’ll be in Berlin where I’ll be concocting my walnut brew.

There are two recipes I’m going to try, but both are basically variations of green walnuts, vodka or everclear, wine, sugar or maple syrup, plus a few spices like vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, cloves, and finally an orange or lemon slice or two. You toss it all in a jar and leave it for several months, then filter it, leave it again, and by Christmas you have some really nice little tasty gifts to give away.