This Green Almond Liqueur recipe is a whole new kind of awesome with an aromatic but bittersweet flavor! I will show you how easy it is to prepare this Italian liqueur with unripe almonds.
I love experimenting with homemade liqueur recipes. And I found a really good almond flavoured liqueur recipe to play with, inspired by a trip. The whole story is down below. This is basically an Italian amaretto liqueur, or as close to an amaretto substitute as you can make at home. So let’s get started as I offer you a naughty recipe to wake up the bootlegger in you with a homemade Green Almond Liqueur recipe.
Update: May 22, 2017 – It has been 6 weeks and the amaretto flavor liqueur is now bottled.
Update: June 5, 2018 – A year has passed since I posted the digestivo recipe on the blog, the Green Almond Liqueur is ready for a tasting!
One evening in the summer of 2016, while on vacation in Austria, as I sat around the table with my Austrian family, my cousin pulled out a bottle of homemade liqueur. He offered me a glass and I fell in love at first sip. OMG this was the best thing ever! I asked what it was made with and he said green walnuts and gave me a brief idea of how it is made.
As soon as I made it back home I started researching this green walnut liqueur. This liqueur goes by the name of Nocino and is an Italian digestif. The recipe requires, no INSISTS, on green walnuts from the English walnut tree. One cannot use the Black Walnut green fruit as the shell is too hard, even when green. Well, either way, I have never seen any green walnut at any market. So what is this girl to do?
Have you ever seen green almonds before?
Then I remember my local Middle-Eastern grocery store has sometimes green almonds in spring! And guess what I found on their shelves last week? Lots of green almonds! So I immediately bought some as the season to find them in spring is short. The season is over a 6 week period, from April to June.
Left on the tree, this fluffy green exterior is what will become the shell. At this green stage, you can easily bite right into it and enjoy a green almond. The ‘shell’ part does have a bit of a bitter taste and the almond inside is smaller and a bit gelatinous. Green almonds fans eat them like snacks, either dipped in sugar or even salt. Or slice one up to toss into a salad.
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Pagan and Christian celebrations unite once again
Since I first posted this blog on Eater day, a day filled with Christian traditions, I wanted to share with a few more notes about the walnut liqueur…you know for educational purposes 😉 Sacred walnut trees had a strong presence in pagan belief and we know many religious days now coincide with Christian celebrations. Nocino was always made on the summer solstice, the day with the shortest night.
Through religious influence, the walnuts had to be picked on the night of St John the Baptist Day, June 24, another celebration of light’s battle over darkness. Now the best part: the walnuts had to be picked by barefoot virgins who only gathered an uneven number dew-laden green walnuts, usually 23 to 25 green walnuts. Back then, this liqueur batch would be ready to warm your shivering bodies by the time of the winter solstice, but absolutely not to be tasted before November 3rd. In reality, waiting a year is best so that the liqueur can mellow first.
As you can see, besides not even being able to source English green walnuts, there are several factors that dictate that I am not the right candidate to make this liquor…the barefoot part, as I am sure you had all properly guessed 😉
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Let’s make the Green Almond Liqueur recipe!
Come shopping with me in my neighborhood for some ingredients and let’s make the green almond liqueur, a homemade amaretto…
So could I make this Nocino liqueur with green almond? I don’ t see why not. Obviously, it will not be identical to the walnut liqueur but a green almond liqueur should be just as good, right? And I already have under belt a few successful and delicious nut and liqueur recipes, such as pistachio syrup and green tea liqueur.
According to the internet, only a few have tried with green almonds and were happy with the results. I am pretty sure this is also a typical Italian recipe as well, a form of amaretto alcohol. If you do know the name, please let me know in the comment box below.
Let’s give this Green Almond Liqueur recipe a try. I macerated my green almond liqueur for 6 weeks on a window sill. I did not get enough almonds the first time around (left pic above) as I had no idea what the almond equivalent was to 23 green walnuts.
But I later found a weight measurement so I doubled my almond quantity two days in (right pic above). Once the 6 weeks were up (left pic below) the liquid had gotten a lot darker. In the end, I achieved an amber color when I bottled the green almond liqueur (right pic below).
An experiment in patience
Update Part 2
The liqueur has now been bottled. I have prepared a video where I took clips and pics of the liqueur for a weekly update, I filmed the straining process and had a little first taste. In a year from now, I shall do a last follow up Part 3 with the final tasting. Hope you will follow along 🙂
TIP: Keep your original vodka bottle to store the green almond liqueur after it is strained.
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Update Part 3
OMG I did it, I waited a whole year and did not touch my resting booze. Look at how clear the liqueur has become, it is a gorgeous pale amber color. And as you can see on the very bottom of the bottle, any sediment still present has sunk to the bottom. No harm in drinking it but you could filter it out. It’s time to taste!
So let’s talk about the texture of the green almond liqueur recipe. We associate the best liqueurs as thick and viscous from all the sugar. Well, this liquid is very thin, like a hard alcohol. You definitely taste the sweetness when you take a sip but you also get the hard alcohol feel like a sip of grappa. Maybe not quite as potent, but close.
The original harshness is almost entirely gone but you still feel the green freshness of the unripe almonds. The liquid is smooth to taste, with that alcohol bite at the end. I will enjoy sipping away at the fruits of my one-year long labor, imagining myself a glass in hand on the shores of Lake Como.
Disaronno vs Amaretto
As I wrote my part 3 I decided to do a little bit more research into amaretto. What is amaretto liqueur anyway? In Italian, the word means a little bitter. Originally, amaretto was made with bitter almonds. Now they use different varieties of almonds for the amaretto ingredients and there are a few other ingredients in there as well as herbs and spices.
OK now here is a shocker. When we think of amaretto brands, the first one that comes to mind is the Disaronno alcohol. Well, guess what? There are no almonds in it at all. So what is Disaronno then? Turns out it is alcohol, a mix of herbs and fruits, sugar and apricot kernel oil. Similar methods are used for Galliano liqueur and Benedictine liqueur. Shocking right? The actual closest thing to real amaretto is Frangelico liqueur which is made with hazelnuts.
How to drink amaretto or your own green almond liqueur recipe
- Enjoy it on its own neat or on the rocks (ice)
- Try one of many amaretto cocktails out there
- One of the most popular ones is the best amaretto sour recipe
- Or you can even make an amaretto cake
Homemade Green Almond Liqueur
- 1.5 pounds green almonds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1- inch piece of vanilla bean
- zest of one citrus
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 liter cheap vodka
- Rinse and pat dry the almonds. Carefully cut each almond into quarters.
- Place the almonds in a 2 liter glass jar, along with the remaining ingredients. Close the lid tight and shake to mix well.
- Place the jar by a window sill and leave to macerate for 6 weeks. You must shake the jar daily, especially at the beginning so the sugar can dissolve. The liqueur will get darker over time.
- Strain the liqueur of all solid particles through several layers of cheesecloth. Bottle the liquid back into the original vodka bottles. Cork or seal tightly. Store in a cool, dry place for at least 4 months but preferably for 1 year so the bitter taste can mellow out.
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Ooh I’ve seen green almonds but not known what to do with them-now I do! Thanks Eve! 😀
Ha ha glad you found a GREAT use for them now Lorraine. Someone on facebook said they also slice them up for stir-fries.
In my father’s village we have two almond trees in our yard! I would love a sip of this liqueur!
Oh how I wish I could have picked my own almonds too for this recipe, not in my climate.
What a fun experiment. So glad you updated this post with an actual tasting. I don’t know if I could have waited that long before opening the bottle and having a tipple! Gotta give it time to age, of course, impatient though we might be. 🙂 Wonderful post — thanks.
Thank you so much John and I am sure you are maybe the only one who was waiting for this update lol. Well I had 1 liter so 3 cups went into the 1 yr bottle and 1 cup went into occasional tasting 😉 Did you know there are no almonds in Disaronno?
I’ve never seen green almonds before. What interesting looking little things. Green almond liquor? That’s a first. Some very, very interesting.
They are becoming more popular slowly I think. Can’t wait to try the ready liqueur 🙂
I had thought for a long time that green almonds were poisonous until they were processed in some way, but learned that the poisonous ones are a different variety entirely, and known as bitter almonds. So green almonds of the regular edible varieties are fine. I’d seen them on sale but never bought them because of that fear. Love the idea of using them in a liqueur!
Well thanks for the info! I remember as a kid being told an undried raw almond pit was poisonous. Hope you will buy some now and give them a taste 🙂
I’ve never heard of this! But I do love amaretto and trying something different!
I also had this in Spain, people store it in their backyards. I wonder if I can get greens almonds in Toronto…
Oh really they have it in Spain, cool! Hit a Middle Eastern grocery store first, they are in season now till mid-June.
Wow! This is new to me but what a cool thing. You’ve done it again!
Thanks, can’t wait to do part 2 when ready 🙂
I do not recall seeing green almonds before… I love almonds it has this amazing unique flavor and I bet this liqueur is amazing.
I cannot wait to try it. I only had the walnut but I am sure it will be good. And I have to be very patien to fins out beofre it has aged enough lol.
Wow! I’m impressed you’re making this, but even more impressed you found green almonds! I’d definitely love to sip on some green almond liqueur—wonder if I’ll ever get the chance???
Thank you Liz and I heard they are getting popular in farmer’s markets I think, perhaps you may see some soon 🙂
I’ve only tried this a couple of times but thanks for the recipe on how to make it Eve!! 😀 I’ll have to seek out some green almonds. I’ve seen raw pistachios but not almonds but I haven’t really been looking.
Raw pistachios??? OMG I would kill to try this with raw pistachios. Wish we were not so far apart I would mail you the almonds in exchange for the pistachios. Probably an illegal thing to mail as well to another country lol.
I’ve never made homemade liqueur. You’d think I would, with all the drinks we do! Anyway, I’ve heard of this, but never tasted it. Sounds SO enticing! I should try this. 🙂 Thanks!
What? John you have to start making your own liqueur lol! Oh so cool you have heard of it before. I hope you can find some green almonds or English green walnuts soon! 🙂
It shall be very original! I’m just a bit afraid of the bitter taste. I’m sure you will tell us about your experience later.
They have something similar in France called vin de noix. Bitter at first buit after 1 year of rest it mellows a lot 🙂
Oh ok, vin de noix is delicious. We wait for one year before drinking it in my family.
Yes, same here, to mellow the flavor 🙂 I am not a patient person lol.
I have never seen green almonds…this liqueur is so interesting…only you can come up with recipes like this…I would love to take a sip of it 🙂
Have a wonderful week ahead Evelyne!
I could not help make it after tasting the walnut version on my trip, anyone would do the same 🙂 Have a greatt week Juliana!
I’ve never seen green almonds other than on television. Hope you enjoy your liqueur.
They are getting popular in farmer’s markets I think, perhaps you may see some soon Tandy 🙂
Interesting, something different again! This is very clever and really sounds good! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Pam I am always on the lookout for the unusual 🙂
YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH the queen of the ODD RECIPES and I friggin’ LOVE IT and YOU!
Cheap Vodka – he he he he he he!
Gigi you know JUST what to say, that truly is the best compliment I like to get 😀
wow how cool is this! I didn’t even know there’s such a thing called green almonds! Thanks for sharing, Evelyne!
Thanks Angie and I hope you come across some green almonds soon, they are getting popular in farmer’s markets I think.