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Picking them green now that they are still in abundance

Yesterday’s summer solstice rang in a week of joyful traditions at Les Pierres, where we start brewing our nut liqueurs. We want them to be ready to be savoured around winter solstice, so what better day to pick to start the process. Also since the nuts are still tender and green, it’s much easier to cut them up.

Later this week I will focus my attention on our Vin de Noix, traditionally made from walnuts picked from the end of June until July 22. I have been making this delicacy for years, inspired by our friend Ian who kindly shared his recipe. Last year’s batch, of greater proportion than usual, turned out to be a bit of a disappointment because I used an antique tin barrel, which resulted in a rather pale taste in the end. Won’t be making that mistake again.

Although Ian prefers to start brewing his supply in July, I generally start our Vin de Noix on June 24th (Saint John’s day) , mainly because it precedes the walnut moth caterpillar beginning it’s lifecycle and feasting on the soft kernels and husks. But I might also been triggered to do so after hearing the whimsical myth about the Italian Nocino liqueur, which best version requires barefoot virgins gathering at night on Saint John’s day, picking an uneven number (21 or 23) of soft, green, dew-laden walnuts. I mean, it’s a powerful image.

This year I am ever so excited about our hazelnuts, becoming lush and fat rather early because of all the rain we’ve had to endure so far. Until now, we have never been able to make a favourable deal with the squirrels and the nut weevil, a medium-sized beetle with an especially elongated snout. It’s larvae develops inside ripening hazelnuts and is a serious pest. Waiting for the nuts to ripen on the tree has proved to be fatuous.

Picking them green now that they are still in abundance and let them infuse in spirit is my plan of action this year. We have many a hazelnut shrub, so I think our small friends will understand.

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