Why Soak Nuts and Seeds

The Why and How of Soaking Nuts and Seeds

Soaking Nuts and Seeds

Soak nuts? I hear you say! Well yes, soaked and dried nuts and seeds have a truly delicious flavour along with the added benefit of an increase in the nutritional value. These are just two of the very simple and most basic reasons for soaking.

Regardless if you eat them by the handful, pack them in your lunch box for a healthy snack, blend them in your morning smoothie or turn them into that delicious nut butter, there is no denying that nuts and seeds are delicious. They are also touted as yet another super food and many of us add them to our diet regardless of what diet we follow.

However, what is often not realised is that nuts can cause problems if not prepared properly beforehand, especially with those of us that have digestive issues and/or require nutritionally dense foods.

Why Soak?

To cover the reasons in an easy to understand language without all the scientific lingo and to keep it brief here we go (although please go ahead and do your own research). I highly recommend the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon she covers this in great detail among other gems of traditional food preparation.

Well all seeds, nuts and grains contain some level of Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid helps protect seed, legume or nut until proper growing conditions are present. Enzyme inhibitors prevent the seed, nut or legume from sprouting prematurely. Unfortunately, although they are there to help protect the plant they can cause problems for us by binding to nutrients or minerals in the body and contributing to deficiencies as well as digestive irritation such as bloating, pain and wind.

You may be a surprise to find many traditional cultures soaked nuts and seeds, unfortunately it is not cost effective for large-scale manufacturers to do and with our desire for fast convenient food we have forgotten this knowledge over time. However, with a bit of forethought and planning soaking can be easily achieved with the minimum of fuss and become a part of your weekly routine.  

Soaking and drying takes time, yes, however the hand on component is really pretty small.

Soaking

The soaking part is pretty simple and much the same for all nuts and seeds with some time variations only. See the table below for suggested times for a list of the most common nuts and seeds. Basically, you soak the nuts or seeds in salty water in a glass container, the salt is necessary to help neutralise the enzymes. After the soaking time for the nut or seed has passed, drain them and rinse in preparation of drying.

Drying

There are a couple of ways to dry your nuts and seeds ideally and the easiest is to have a dehydrator. These can be expensive, however, I picked mine up very cheap on Gumtree. It is worth looking on line for second hand ones before handing over a large amount of money for a new one, it will help if you decide if you would like to buy a bigger or different type of dehydrator at a later time.

The second way is to dry them in the oven, this is the easiest to way when starting to dry as there is no dollar outlay and you will get the full benefits and get to taste the difference of nuts that have been soaked.  Most ovens do not go below 100° C or 200° F and nuts shouldn’t be dried above 65° C or 150° F to achieve this have the oven door open slightly (I have used a wooden spoon to keep it open) and keep them spread out with plenty of room around them and stir them occasionally to ensure even drying.

Be sure to dry your nuts completely through, taste test to make sure as they will become mouldy if not.  Correctly dried nuts and seeds not only become far more digestible and nutritious they also taste so much better. They become slightly crispy, have a nice texture and taste amazing you will notice this particularly with walnuts and almonds. After drying them store them in airtight containers in the fridge to prevent the oils becoming rancid and enjoy.

Nut/Seed VarietyTbsp of SaltSoaking TimeDrying Time
Almond17-24 hours12-24 hours
Cashew14-6 hours12-24 hours
Hazelnut skinless17-24 hours12-24 hours
Peacans27-24 hours12-24 hours
Pine Nuts17 hours12-24 hours
Pumpkin Seeds27 hours12 hours
Macadamia17-24 hours12-24 hours
Sunflower Seeds17 hours12 hours
Walnuts27-24 hours12-24 hours

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Creative wanderer