L’Eau de Noix de Saint Jean
Makes about 1 quart
St. John the Baptist’s Day coincides with the Summer Solstice, and this makes June 24th an important date. There are village fêtes everywhere and traditionally large bonfires are kept lit through the night. Farmers have always been careful to observe crucial dates in the annual passage of the sun and moon, as is reflected in this recipe. The green walnuts needed for the digestif and the following recipe for an aperitif wine must be picked on the Feast Day itself when the walnuts can be pierced with a wooden match-stick.
4 1/3 cups (1 l) l’eau-de-vie
12 green walnuts – shelled and crushed
1 stick of cinnamon – broken into pieces
grated nutmeg to taste
1 level cup (180 g) granulated sugar
Wear rubber or plastic gloves to protect against stains, then crack the walnut shells and crush the meat.
Place the nuts, cloves, cinnamon and grated nutmeg in a 2 quart (2 l) stone crock or lidded glass jar. Add the l’eau-de-vie, stir gently, and let macerate for 40 days in a temperate place.
Gently shake the crock several times a week.
Strain the contents of the crock through a non-metallic strainer and discard the un-strained solids. Slowly filter the remaining liquid l’eau-de-vie through a paper filter or fine muslin.
Add the sugar to the liquid and let it dissolve slowly for about 7 days.
Filter again and pour into carefully washed wine bottles and cork.
If bottles are unavailable use sterilized mason jars. Age for at least 3 – 4 months.