This recipe is inspired by fresh apple cider from BelleWood Acres. However, it also includes a beverage experiment I tried several years ago.
I was living in a cabin with a huge walnut tree just outside the door. Every year, I’d watch for the walnuts to ripen, but every year I’d awaken one morning to the sound of blue jays. That was the day the walnuts would all be gone. The jays were faster than me when the walnuts were ripe.
One year I read about an Italian liqueur called nocino, which is made from green walnuts steeped in vodka for a couple of months, sometimes with added herbs and spices. At last! I’d found a way to enjoy at least some of the walnuts before the jays ate them.
At first, the nocino I made tasted bitter, but everything I read said the flavor would get better with age (as in years). It did.
Normally cider would be spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, but those are not grown locally. I remembered that the taste of apple combines well with sage, so I decided to try that instead.
My daughter and I really enjoyed this warm toddy in front of a crackling wood fire. If you want to avoid alcohol, try heating just the cider and sage.
- 2 cups Honeycrisp apple cider (BelleWood Acres, Lynden)
- ½ tsp ground sage (home garden, Lummi Island)
- 1 Tbsp butter (homemade with cream from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Lynden)
- 1 tsp raw honey (Backyard Bees, Bellingham)
- 2 shots nocino (green walnut liqueur) (homemade)
- Put the cider and sage in a saucepan over medium-high heat. When the cider just begins to boil (bubbles around the edges), reduce the heat to low and add the liqueur, butter and honey. Continue to heat and stir until butter and honey are melted.
- Serve hot, and savor slowly. Top with a dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with sage, if you like.