Green Walnuts in Syrup
Although I’ve eaten my way through Greece and Turkey and have seen many, many types of preserves, this one took me by surprise. Walnuts picked before they are ripe, in their green state where there’s only a soft covering and not a hard shell, are peeled, soaked, boiled, reboiled, and simmered in sugar syrup to produce this beautiful gem, which deceivingly looks a bit like an olive from the outside…
This preserve is a tradition (as I implied) of Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Romania, the Republic of Armenia, and, I’m sure, other European destinations. Fruits and nuts are preserved throughout these countries, and, much like green walnuts are gathered early in the season (spring/summer) to make nocino, or walnut liquor, these little green guys are soaked and make a beautiful preserve where the syrup is almost as tasty as the nut itself.
And, yes, I know they don’t look green anymore! The preserving process turns them dark and removes almost all of the bitterness a young walnut can have. They take on a maple-like quality. I would liken them to candied chestnuts – a bit firm but with a honeyed and nutty bite. Their texture is a bit dense and has a softened version of that crunch of a walnut.
My go-to would be vanilla ice cream drizzled with the syrup and dotted with quarters of this gorgeous confection. Obviously, a cheese plate now requires these little guys; I can only imagine these paired with Bayley Hazen Blue. And although I think baked in a muffin or bread would be another great option, these preserves are so stunning that I would always opt for them in their most natural state – showing off their unique texture and flavor….