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Table 4 Traditional Alcoholic Beverages (TAB) in upper Reno valley (AVR). Plants, preparations, recipes

From: Traditional alcoholic beverages and their value in the local culture of the Alta Valle del Reno, a mountain borderland between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (Italy)

Plant Recipe
Aloysia citriodora Palau - Lemon verbena liquor. Steep 67 Lippia leaves and lemon zest with 500 g sugar in 800 ml water and 500 ml alcohol for 21 days. Shake daily.
Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (100 herbs liquor) . Steep 5- 6 sage leaves, 5- 6 basil leaves, one teabag, pine buds, rosemary and wild mint in alcohol for 21 days, then filter and add a syrup made with 100 g sugar boiled in 100 g water.
- ‘Cento erbe’. Steep 3 laurel leaves, 3 lemon leaves, 3 juniper ‘berries’, 3 chamomile ‘flowers’, 3 tea leaves, 3 sage leaves, 3 rosemary leaves in a mixture of 350 g sugar boiled in 1 l water (then cooled) and 40 g 90 % alcohol.
Castanea sativa Miller - Chestnuts are used to make a distillate (‘grappa’).
Cinnamomum verum J. Presl Used for flavoring different liquors:
- ‘Nocino’ (see Juglans regia)
- ‘Corniolino’ (see Cornus mas)
- Juniper liquor (see Juniperus communis)
- ‘Vin brulé’ (mulled wine), prepared in winter to drink during the ‘veglie’ (evenings spent at home with friends). Heat the wine to boiling with lemon/orange zest (or with an apple quarter), cinnamon and cloves. Alternative: when boiling, set fire to the wine to remove alcohol.
Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f. - ‘Limoncino’. Steep 3-4 lemons in 1 l alcohol. Filter. Make a syrup with 1 kg sugar boiled in 1 l water, let cool and mix with the infusion .
- Lemon liquor. Steep 10 lemon leaves in alcohol.
Used also for flavoring different beverages:
- ‘Cento erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis)
- ‘Nocino’ (see Juglans regia)
- ‘Corniolino’ (see Cornus mas)
- Lemon verbena liquor (see Lippia triphylla)
- ‘Vin brulé’ (see Cinnamomum verum).
Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck - Used for flavoring ‘Vin brulé’ (see Cinnamomum verum).
Coffea arabica L. - Used for flavoring in an alternative receipt of ‘Nocino’ (see Juglans regia).
Cornus mas L. - ‘Corniolino’. Steep 1 kg of Cornus mas (cornelian cherry) fruits, 5 cloves, 1 pinch cinnamon and the zest of 1 lemon in 1 l alcohol for 40 days, then filter. Make a syrup with 625 g sugar boiled in 625 ml water, let cool and mix with infusion. Alternative: syrup made with 400 g sugar in 1 l water.
- ‘Corniole’ liquor. Made with water, alcohol, sugar and Cornus mas fruits.
- Steep Cornus mas fruits in grappa for 1 month, then filter.
- Put 1 kg Cornus mas fruits and 750 g sugar in glass jar, pour enough red wine to cover. Steep for 2-3 months, then filter. Add 300 g alcohol.
Fragaria vesca L. - Fill glass jar with wild strawberries, cover with sugar, close jar and expose to sunlight for 40 days. The lightly fermented syrup, filtered and bottled, is used as a drink, diluted with a double quantity of water.
Gentiana cfr. asclepiadea L. - ‘Criptamarol’ liquor. Prepared with alcohol and gentian roots by a priest (expert in botany) who offered the liquor to guests or used it for barter; nobody else knew the recipe.
- Gentian liquor (digestive, remedy for gastritis). Roots collected from wild plants, cleaned and steeped in grappa.
- Gentian-aromatized wine (digestive, remedy for gastritis). Roots collected from wild plants, cleaned and steeped in wine.
Gentianopsis ciliata (L.) Ma. (cfr.) - Gentian liquor (see Gentiana cfr. asclepiadea L.)
- Gentian-aromatized wine (see Gentiana cfr. asclepiadea L.)
Juglans regia L. - ‘Nocino’. The most popular traditional liquor in the area, usually offered as a digestive after meals, to warm up in cold weather, as a drink to visiting friends. According to some informants, the macerated fruits remaining after filtering are washed in alcohol to make a lighter liquor, drank also during snacks. The preparation of ‘Nocino’ often requires precise rituals: gathering of walnuts on Midsummer Day, ‘magical’ number of fruits, cross-shaped cutting of the fruits before preparation. According to one informant, the nuts should be stolen, walking barefoot. Walnuts are gathered unripe, when their hulls are still green. Spices and flavorings are often added. The liquor must ‘stand’ a long time before consumption.
Different recipes:
   . Steep 30 nuts, 750 g sugar, 2 g powdered cinnamon, 10 cloves and lemon zest in 1.5 l alcohol and 4 l water for 40 days in the dark, then filter.
   . Steep 21/22 nuts, 500 g sugar, 1.5 g cinnamon and 7 cloves in 1 l alcohol and 0.5 l water for 3 weeks, then filter.
   . Steep 19 nuts (broken in half) in 1 l 90 % alcohol for 40 days, then filter and add a syrup made with 400 g sugar boiled in 800 ml water. Let stand for 1 month before consuming.
   . Steep 33 nuts (pierced with a fork and cut into quarters) and 750 g sugar in 1.5 l alcohol and 0.5 l water. Use glass jar big enough to be half filled by the mixture. Close jar and expose to sunlight for 60 days, shaking it every 4-5 days, then filter.
   . Steep 28 nuts (broken in half), 900g sugar (dissolved in hot water), the zest of 1 lemon, 1 vanilla bean, 4 cloves, 1 pinch cinnamon in 1 l 95 % alcohol for 40 days.
   . Steep 1 kg nuts and 1 kg sugar in 1 l alcohol and 1 l water for at least 1 year (or 5-6 years; the longer the better), then filter.
   . Steep 2 kg of nuts (broken in small pieces) in 1 l alcohol, in the dark, for 7-8 days. The jar must be airtight. Filter, then add a syrup made with 1 kg sugar in 1 l water. Bottle and let stand (the longer the better).
   . Steep 15 nuts (cut into quarters), 0.5 kg sugar, juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp coffee in 0.5 l water and 0.5 l 90 % alcohol in glass jar. Expose to sunlight for one day, shake to dissolve sugar, let stand for 40 days, filter and bottle.
   . Steep 25 nuts with sugar in 1 l alcohol for 40 days, then filter.
   . Steep nuts with sugar, lemon and cloves in wine and alcohol (quantities are kept secret) for 40 days, exposing to sunlight. Filter and bottle.
   - ‘Nociato’. Take same nuts and same jar used to prepare ‘Nocino’. Cover fruits with vermouth or dry white wine, let stand for 1 week, filter. Keep in a cool place and serve as aperitif.
Juniperus communis L. - Juniper liquor (digestive). Different recipes:
   . Steep 1 small branch of juniper with ‘berries' in grappa for 40 days.
   . Steep 1 ‘giumella' (handful) of unripe and 1 of ripe juniper ‘berries', some cinnamon and 3 cloves in 1 l 90 % alcohol and a syrup made from 1 kg sugar dissolved in 1 l water. Keep in airtight jar for at least 40 days. Filter and bottle.
   . Steep juniper ‘berries' and sugar in alcohol or grappa.
- ‘Cento erbe' (see Camellia sinensis).
- The ‘berries' are also used to make grappa.
Laurus nobilis L. - Laurel liquor. Steep 20 laurel leaves with 600 g sugar in 700 g water and 1 l alcohol for 3 days. Boil for 5 minutes, let cool, filter and bottle.
- ‘Cento erbe' (see Camellia sinensis).
Malus domestica Borkh. - Apple seeds liquor. Steep 1 glassful of apple seeds (old cultivar) in 300 g 95 % alcohol for 10 days in closed jar. Shake jar daily. Make a syrup dissolving 400 g sugar in 400 ml water, heat until boiling then let cool. Add syrup to infusion and let stand for 40 days.
- Alternative version of ‘vin brulé’ (see Cinnamomum verum).
Malus sylvestris Miller - The same as Malus domestica.
Matricaria chamomilla L. - ‘Cento erbe' (see Camellia sinensis).
Mentha spicata L. (s.l.) - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
- ‘Mentarello’ liquor.
Ocimum basilicum L. - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
- Basil liquor (digestive). Steep a handful of basil leaves with 1 kg sugar and the zest of 1 lemon in 1 l alcohol for 40 days, then filter. Alternative: steep 150 basil leaves in 1 l alcohol for 3 days, then filter, add syrup made with 1 kg sugar in 1 l of water, bottle.
Pinus nigra J.F. Arnold (s.l.) - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
Prunus avium L. - Fill jar with pitted cherries, cover with sugar, close and expose to sunlight for 40 days. The result is preserved cherries and a fermented juice that can be used separately as a drink.
- Cherries in alcohol. Steep fruits (preferably the ‘duroni’ variety) in alcohol in glass jar, let stand. The result is preserved cherries and a cherry-flavored alcohol.
- Cherry liquor. Steep 1 kg cherries with 1 kg sugar in 1 l alcohol and 1 l water for 1 year (better 5-6 years). Filter and bottle, or leave the cherries in the liquor to eat.
Prunus cerasifera Ehrh. - ‘Wild plums’ are used to make grappa.
Prunus cerasus L. - ‘Marasche’ in sugar. Cut the fruit stalks leaving a 0.5 cm piece attached (alternative: half fruits with a piece of stalk left, half without). Fill jar with fruits and cover with sugar (1 kg fruits with 200 g, or 7-800 g, or 1 kg sugar). Expose to sunlight (alternative: close jar and turn upside down) until sugar is dissolved (for 20, 30, 40, 60 days or the whole summer). The result is preserved fruits in a more or less alcoholic juice, called 'Maraschino' or ‘Maraschino al sole’, that can be used as a drink (pure or diluted).
- ‘Marasche’ or ‘Amarene’ syrup. Press fruits and brew them for 48 hours, filter. Add 1 kg sugar for each l juice, boil for 2-3 minutes, let cool then bottle. Alternative: macerate fruits with sugar for some days, then filter and bottle. The result is a lightly alcoholic syrup, to be diluted with water and used as a drink.
- ‘Cherry’. Let steep 35 leaves in 1 l red wine for 4 days, then filter. Make a syrup with 400 g sugar boiled in 400 g water, let cool, mix with 200 g 90 % alcohol and add to infusion. Let stand for 1 month.
- Put fruits (leaving a piece of each stalk) in glass jar, add 4 tbsp sugar and cover with grappa. Filter after 40 days.
- ‘Marasche’ liquor. Macerate pulp of 1 kg fruits and 600 g sugar for 24 hours in glass jar. Boil for 8 minutes, let stand, add 200 g of alcohol.
- ‘Marasche’ pits liquor. Steep pits from 1 kg fruits in 300 g alcohol for 40 days (alternative: 40 g pits in alcohol). Make a syrup boiling 300 g sugar in 300 g water. Let cool, add to infusion, filter, let stand for 2 months.
- Put fruits (transversely incised and complete with stalks) in glass jar, cover with alcohol, water and sugar (approx. 500 g each), expose to sunlight for 2-3 months.
- ‘Maraschino con le foglie' or ‘Amarene’ syrup (lightly alcoholic beverage, usually diluted with water). Macerate 100 leaves (gathered in July/August) with 1 l red wine and sugar in closed jar exposed to sunlight, for 30 days. Alternative: 800 g sugar, boil for 20 minutes instead of exposing to sunlight.
Prunus domestica L. - Plums are distilled to make grappa.
- Fill jar with plums, cover with sugar, close and put on a window ledge for the whole summer. The result is preserved fruit and a lightly alcoholic juice.
Prunus laurocerasus L. - ‘Laurino’ (digestive). Steep 350 g fruits in 1 l 95 % alcohol. After 15 days remove, crush and put back one fifth of the fruits. Add syrup made with 500 g sugar in 500 g water, filter then bottle.
Prunus persica (L.) Batsch - Peach pits liquor. An after-meal drink, to be offered to visiting friends. Put 20-30 peach pits (washed with water) in glass jar, fill jar with 90 % alcohol, steep for 40 days, filter. Wash again pits with equal weight of water. Boil this water with equal weight of sugar to make a syrup. Let cool and mix with infusion.
Prunus spinosa L. - Fruits are used to make grappa.
- ‘Strozzighino’ or ‘strozzighi’ (Prunus spinosa fruits) liquor. Different recipes:
. Steep 1 kg ripe fruits (gathered in December, when most sweet) in 1 l alcohol for 40 days. Stir with wooden spoon and filter with towel, wringing vigorously. Make a syrup boiling 500 g sugar in 500 g water, let cool, add to mixture. Filter again, then bottle.
. Steep 1 kg fruits with 1 kg sugar in 1.5 l white wine and 1 l alcohol for 3 months, stirring from time to time. Filter and bottle.
- Macerate fruits with grappa.
- Put fruits in glass jar with some alcohol and sugar, macerate exposing to sunlight.
- Mix 1 kg fruits with 750 g sugar, cover with red wine. Macerate for 2-3 months, filter, add 300 g alcohol.
Pyrus communis L. - Pear wine. Macerate fruits gathered at the end of summer/beginning of fall (when dark brown) in wine vat for 4-5 days (alternative: 13 days).The result is a sparkling, sugary, cider-like beverage that should be consumed as soon as possible, preferably with roasted chestnuts.
Pyrus pyraster Burgsd. - Wild pear wine. See Pyrus communis (but remove seeds).
Robinia pseudoacacia L. - Brew flowers in water to make a sort of sparkling wine.
Rosa canina L. (s. l.) - Rose liquor. Fill one quarter of a bottle with dog-rose petals, add 1-2 tbsp sugar, fill with grappa. Let stand for 1 month, then filter.
Rosa cv. - ‘Rosolio’. Very sweet liquor, offered to guests in specific tiny glasses ('servito da rosolio'). Put rose petals and pounded sugar (in layers) in glass jar. Cover with towel and expose to sunlight. When sugar is dissolved, add water and alcohol, macerate for some time then filter.
- Grappa flavored with leaves of an ancient rose variety.
Rosmarinus officinalis L. - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
Rubus cv. - Hand-squeeze fruits, macerate in pot for 8 days. Filter with towel and add an equal weight of sugar. Used as cough-medicine (diluted with water).
Rubus hirtus W. et K. - See Rubus cv.
Rubus idaeus L. - ‘Lamponata’ or raspberry syrup. Used diluted with water 1:1 o 1:2 (‘to kill the water’). Different recipes:
. Wash fruits, put in bowl, squeeze by hand and brew for 20 days, stirring every morning. Filter with towel (or use vegetable mill), boil for 2-3 minutes with sugar (800 g for 1 kg mixture) and bottle.
. Macerate fruits with sugar for some days (alternative: two nights), filter and bottle (alternative: boil before bottling)..
. Leave fruits in bucket outside for 1 week, until mouldy (alternative: for 4-5 days, for 8 days). Filter with towel or squeeze by hand. Add 1 kg sugar for each l juice (alternative: no sugar added), put into jars (alternative: boil for 10-15 minutes before bottling), expose to sunlight for 30-40 days (alternative: boil for 30 minutes).
. Press fruits, let stand in bucket or pot for 5-6 days (alternative: 8 days), filter with towel (or use vegetable mill).
. Boil pressed fruits with some sugar, let stand until fermented. Heat juice, then filter.
- Fill jar (or bottle) with fruits, cover with sugar, close jar and expose to sunlight for 40 days. The result is preserved fruit and a lightly alcoholic juice, used as a drink (pure or diluted with water).
- Raspberry liquor. Macerate 1 kg fruits with 1 kg sugar in 1 l alcohol and 1 l water for 1 year (or 5-6 years). Filter, or leave the raspberries in the liquor to eat.
Rubus ulmifolius Schott - Blackberry syrup or 'Morino', used as a drink, pure or diluted with water. Different recipes:
. Macerate 1 kg fruits with 500 g sugar and some alcohol for 2 weeks. Filter to eliminate seeds.
. Boil pressed fruits with some sugar, let stand until fermented. Heat juice and filter.
. Leave fruits in bucket for 1 week (alternative: 4-5 days) until mouldy. Filter with towel or squeeze by hand. Add 1 kg sugar for each l juice (alternative : 1 kg sugar for each bucket), put into jars, expose to sunlight for 30-40 days (alternative: boil for 10-15 minutes then put into jars).
. Let stand fruits for 2 days in a bowl until fermented, filter with hemp cloth, add 1 kg sugar for each kg juice, boil for 5 minutes.
- Blackberry liquor. Macerate 1 kg fruits in 600 g alcohol for 40 days. Make a syrup boiling 600 g sugar in 500 g water, let cool and add to mixture. Filter, add strained fruits, filter again then bottle.
Ruta graveolens L. - Put a small branch in a bottle and fill with grappa.
Salvia officinalis L. - Granny's ‘Cent'erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
- ‘Cento erbe’ (see Camellia sinensis).
- Digestive liquor. Steep 55 leaves with 300 g sugar in 1 l grappa for 30 days, then filter.
Sambucus ebulus L. - Ripe fruits, called ‘ebbi’, are used to make grappa (characterized by the unpleasant smell left by fruits during distillation).
Sambucus nigra L. - Elder syrup, used as a drink (pure or diluted with water) and as a treatment for high blood pressure. Different recipes:
. Press fruits, boil with some sugar, let stand until fermented, heat then filter.
. Put ripe fruits in bucket or vat and cover with towel. Let stand for 4-5 days until mouldy. Squeeze by hand, add sugar (1 kg or 800 g sugar for each bucket). Boil juice with sugar for 10-15 minutes, bottle. Better with ageing.
. Put ripe fruits in jar and let stand until fermented, press then pass through vegetable mill.
- Macerate fruits in alcohol for 1 month.
Sorbus domestica L. - ‘Sorbole’ wine. Macerate fruits in closed vat for 4-5 days. The result is a sparkling, sugary, cider-like beverage that should be consumed as soon as possible, preferably with roasted chestnuts.
Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr.& L.M.Perry - Used for flavoring different liquors:
. ‘Nocino’ (see Juglans regia).
. ‘Corniolino’ (see Cornus mas).
. Juniper liquor (see Juniperus communis).
- Used for flavoring ‘Vin brulé’ (see Cinnamomum verum).
Vaccinium myrtillus L. - Blueberry syrup, used as a refreshing drink, pure or diluted with water 1:2; the pure syrup is also used as a cough-medicine. Different recipes:
. Press fruits, boil with some sugar, let stand until fermented. Heat the juice, then filter.
. Wash fruits, squeeze by hand, put in bowl and macerate for 20 days, stirring every morning. Filter with handkerchief, boil juice with sugar (800 g for each kg juice) for 2-3 minutes, let cool and bottle.
. Press fruits and let stand in bucket, covered with towel, for 5-6 days; squeeze with cloth or use vegetable mill, add sugar (500-600 g for each l of juice). Boil for a short while, then bottle (alternative: bottle without boiling and expose to sunlight for 40 days).
. Put ripe fruits in bucket or vat (or pot), cover with towel, let stand for 4-5 days (alternative: 8 days) until mouldy. Squeeze by hand or filter with towel. Add equal weight of sugar (alternative: 800-1000 g sugar for each bucket). Boil for 10-15 minutes, put in jars while still hot, close and put upside down.
. Boil fruits briefly in water, squeeze or pass through vegetable mill. Make a syrup boiling water with sugar, let cool and add to mixture. Filter with linen towel, bottle then boil 20 minutes to sterilize.
- Fill jar with fruits, cover with sugar, close and expose to sunlight for 40 days. The result is preserved fruit and a lightly alcoholic juice.
- Blueberry liquor or ‘Mirtillino’. Different recipes:
. Macerate 1 kg fruits with 1 kg sugar in 1 l alcohol and 1 l water for one year (or 5-6 years, the longer the better). Filter, or leave the blueberries in the liquor to eat.
. Fresh fruits mixed with equal weight of water and 3 times same weight of alcohol.
. Macerate fruits in alcohol for 40 days, then filter. Make a syrup boiling sugar in water, let cool then add to mixture, stir well and bottle.
Vanilla planifolia Andrews - Used for flavoring ‘Nocino’ (see Juglans regia).
Vitis labrusca L. - Steep 1 kg of Vitis labrusca (fox grape) fruits in 1 l alcohol, 1 l water and 1 kg sugar for at least 1 year (better 5-6 years). Filter and bottle, or leave the grapes in the liquor to eat.