Soaking Nuts


If I wasn’t convinced by the opinions of researchers like Sally Fallon about the benefits of soaking grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds, my own experience would have soon convinced me. This is especially true in regard to nuts and seeds. I have often noticed that raw nuts have bothered my stomach slightly, and that I could not eat very many of them without getting an aversion to them. But once I started soaking and dehydrating them, I found, to my delight, that I could handle them very well. Not only that, but I found that they had a much better texture and flavor. There have been several times when I have gotten pumpkin seeds, for example, and tasted them unsoaked and thought they didn’t taste very good. But after soaking them in salt water overnight and dehydrating them, they tasted great. I was hooked.

I would like to introduce you to the concept of why you should soak you nuts and how to do it.

Why Should I Soak Nuts?

Unlike grains, nuts contain smaller amounts of phytic acid. Their real issue for us is having high amounts of enzyme inhibitors. These enzymes are useful to seeds and nuts because it prevents them from sprouting prematurely. But they can really strain your digestive system (which is probably why my body was reacting to them raw).

Soaking your nuts in warm water will neutralize these enzyme inhibitors, and also help encourage the production of beneficial enzymes. These enzymes, in turn, increase many vitamins, especially B vitamins. It also makes these nuts much easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed. And, yes, this is a traditional method of preparation. For example the Aztecs would soak pumpkin or squash seeds in salty water and then, sun dry them. 1

For those of you who soak your grains already, I was curious as to why you used salt instead of a cultured or acidic addition. Sally Fallon answered here.

“Q. When soaking nuts, why is the salt needed?

A. The salt helps activate enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors. For grains, we soak in an acidic solution to get rid of phytic acid. Nuts do not contain much phytic acid but do contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors. The method imitates the way the native peoples in Central America treated their nuts and seeds–by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them.”

(So nuts are prepared slightly differently because they don’t have as much phytic acid, but do have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors.)

Like I said before, if the research didn’t convince me, or if I didn’t care a hoot about what traditional societies did, I would still be convinced by my own experience. I do so much better with soaked nuts, and I like them all the more for their improved taste. I would even prepare them this way solely for the culinary improvement!

The How

While the basic method is the same with all nuts and seeds (soaking in a brine and drying afterwards) there are some slight variations so I will be listing nuts separately. I, once again, owe Sally Fallon the credit for this research. Thank you, Sally Fallon!

The basic method is as follows: Dissolve salt in water, pour over nuts or seeds , using enough water to cover. Leave in a warm place for specified time. Then drain in a colander and spread on a stainless steel pan. Place in a warm oven (no warmer than 150 degrees) for specified time, turning occasionally, until thoroughly dry and crisp. Really make sure they are all the way dry! If not, they could mold and won’t have that crispy wonderful texture. I have found the longer I soak a seed or nut, the longer it takes to dehydrate them.

I use a food dehydrator instead of an oven. It works so well, and keeps my oven free. However, if you don’t have that option, most of us with newer stoves can’t set our ovens at the required 150 degrees Fahrenheit. While I have not personally experimented with this, I have heard of others who leave their ovens cracked to keep the temperature lower or who occasionally open up the oven to also keep the temperature lower. You could put in an oven thermometer to keep track of the temperature. While this would not be the most energy efficient method, it could work. If worse comes to worse, while doing it at 200 degrees (the lowest temperature many stoves will go to) will destroy all those good enzymes and won’t be optimal, I would rather have soaked and slightly toasted nuts then unsoaked nuts.

Pumpkin seeds-Pepitas

4 cups of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
filtered water

Soaking Time: At least 7 hours, or overnight
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until dry and crisp

Pecans or Walnuts

4 cups of nuts
2 teaspoons sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: 7 or more hours (can do overnight)
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp.

Pecans can be stored in an airtight container, but walnuts are more susceptible to become rancid so should always be stores in the refrigerator.

Peanuts (skinless), Pine nuts, or Hazelnuts (skinless)

4 cups of raw nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: at least 7 hours or overnight
Dehydrating time:12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp

Store in an airtight container

Almonds

4 cups almonds, preferably skinless- SF notes “Skinless almonds will still sprout, indicating that the process of removing their skins has not destroyed the enzymes….[they] are easier to digest and more satisfactory in many recipes. However, you may also use almonds with the skins on. “
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: At least 7 hours, or overnight
Dehydrating Time:12 -24 hours, until completely dry and crisp

* You can also use almond slivers

Cashews

4 cups of “raw” cashews
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

“Some care must be taken in preparing cashews. They will become slimy and develop a disagreeable taste if allowed to soak too long or dry out too slowly, perhaps because they come to us not truly raw but having already undergone two separate heatings. You may dry them in a 200 to 250 degree oven-the enzymes have already been destroyed during processing. “

Soaking time: 6 hours, no longer
Dehydrate at 200 degrees F: 12-24 hours
Store in an airtight container

Macadamia nuts

4 cups of raw macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt
filtered water

Soaking time: At least 7 hours or overnight
Dehydrating time: 12-24 hours, until dry and crisp.

1 Nourishing Traditions, 2nd edition, pg 452-453, 512, 513-517

This post is part of Kitchen Tip Tuesday!

KimiHarris

I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Comments

  1. Bruyere says

    I love pecans and have been buying organic ones from my local health food store. I always soak them & then dehydrate them in my oven to increase their digestibility.
    Due to the high price of the organic ones, I was wondering if, by soaking non-organically grown nuts in salted water overnight, am I decreasing their pesticide residue to any appreciable degree? Overall, are nuts (pecans specifically), which are grown commercially, high in pesticide residue? Is it worth it to pay the extra price for organic ones?

    • FUji says

      Soaking nuts and seeds does not rinse off or decrease pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide residue. The plant actually sucks up these ‘cides along with nutrient for the plant having making these a part of its DNA and depositing that into the fruit or nuts. Always by organic or even better Truganic because of the harm to soil, surrounding areas, and ultimately yourself.

      • Dennis Koyle says

        Is there any science to this opinion, or is it just paranoia? It is possible that a crop could be treated while the fruit/nut is on but most chemical is applied in early stages of production and little or no chemical is applied to the produce/fruit/nut. At any rate, there is so minimal amount of chemical to be not mentionable. Organic production is a process of certification that eliminates competition and produces government revenue. With the seldom exception of mishandling or mistaken applications, food produced in the US will never introduce enough chemical that your body can’t handle it. But hey, if your money means nothing to you, go ahead and pay three times as much to help fund the certification procedure.

        • K says

          From Monsanto’s mouth to your ears.

          Dennis, your statement is all propaganda and is full of misrepresentations and deception. There isn’t space to refute all you said, but I have to defend against your attack on the free market. Anyone who abides by the organic standards can qualify their products as organic. To say organic production works to eliminate competition is complete a deception. Organic certification allows people to know whether their food has been bathed in poison or is genetically modified. Consumers, armed with this information, can then decide whether that criteria is worth paying the premium (for them). That, sir, is the how a free market is designed to work. Informed consumers voting their priorities with their dollars.

          I do not understand why so many who trash organic certification want to kill the free market.

          • Alison says

            K your statement “Organic certification allows people to know whether their food has been bathed in poison or is genetically modified.” Is incorrect. Organic does not mean that the food is not GMO, to date there is nothing to keep someone from growing GMO plants under the Organic standard and no labeling system to tell us that they are.

          • Dennis Koyle says

            Where do I project propaganda and what is my motive? All food is organic. Organic certification is built on the premise that non-organic certified foods are laced with poison, your writings are filled with suggestions and statements of such. Organic certification does not make better food it is a sells gimmick trap that ignorant people fall into. The criteria for admittance into the elite three to six times the price club is membership paid to the government. It’s not that they don’t use chemicals, they just use different chemicals and often times more of it.

        • Fitjarald says

          Wolff, while DNA does not technically absorb anything, different chemicals can affect the DNA’s role in gene expression, so that the cells contained within the plant are not properly formed. In the body, improper expression is called cancer, and is, as you know, very harmful. Thus the importance of eating a proper, well balanced diet, filled with good food that has been grown properly!

  2. Tonie says

    Is it necessary to soak in salt. I assume the nuts would then have a salty taste, and as I use nuts in so many things other than just eating, I don’t think I would want that extra salty flavor.

    • says

      the salt rinses off completely and they don’t taste salty :) then you make whatever culinary creation sparks your mind and body at the moment!! MAKE CASHEW CHEESE, SUPER YUMMERS AND HEALTHY!!

  3. Mindy says

    Hi! Thanks for your post! I bought raw, organic macadamia nuts, soaked overnight with salt and dehydrated them at 150 degrees for almost 20 hours. They never got crisp, so I am curious if I should just keep going with the dehydrator or if that’s how they are supposed to turn out?

    Also, do you store them in the fridge and if so, will that make them mushy?

    Can you make milk out of them at this point or should I skip the dehydrator for milk and just soak overnight?

    Any tips would be very much appreciated!

    • Catherine says

      Macadamia nuts are such high fat nuts that shouldn’t be soaked for long at all in fact 6 hours is MAX. That would have been the problem.

  4. Carolyn B says

    I just soaked a batch of raw pine nuts and they smell foul…so foul my kids ran and hid from the room. Would this suggest that they were rancid to begin with? Or did I possible do something wrong?

    • KimiHarris says

      Ewwww…something went wrong there. It is possible that you soaked them too long? How long did you soak them? If too long (especially in warm weather) they can start growing bacteria that can cause off smells. It has never happened to me while soaking nuts however it has when I forgot about some soaking grains.

      • FUji says

        Yes! THey can get slimy, mold, look out for bubbles in the water which is a sign of cultivating bacteria. Every nut or seed has a soaking time.

    • Dennis Koyle says

      Nuts need to be washed several times during the soaking cycle to keep them from developing bacteria growth. High enough salt levels might prevent that. I wash almonds without salt several times per day to keep the bacteria from growing.

  5. Ilze says

    Soaking and Sprouting Seeds, Nuts and Grains

    Raw seeds, grains and nuts should be soaked before using. Raw nuts and seeds have enzyme inhibitors on their surface that protect them while they grow. Soaking releases the inhibitors and significantly boosts the nutrition and digestibility of nuts and seeds. Your tummy will feel better after eating them soaked than after eating them unsoaked.

    Some people like to add a little salt to the water before soaking to help speed up the process. After soaking, be sure to rinse seeds and nuts thoroughly with fresh pure water until it runs clear to remove the enzyme inhibitors that have been released into the water. It is also recommended to rinse soaking seeds and nuts 2-3 times during the soak.

    After soaking, you can dehydrate at 105 degrees until the nuts/seeds are completely dry. Store in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh. Use within 3 days.

    The following chart gives a good guideline for soaking and sprouting times of the most common seeds, nuts and grains.

    Soaking and Sprouting Chart

    Seed, Nut or Grain
    Soak Time
    Sprout Time

    Adzuki
    12 hours
    3-5 days

    Alfalfa
    8 hours
    2-5 days

    Almonds
    8-12 hours
    12 hours

    Barley
    6-8 hours
    2 days

    Brazil Nuts
    Do not soak
    N/A

    Broccoli
    8 hours
    3-6 days

    Buckwheat
    6 hours
    2 days

    Cabbage
    4-6 hours
    4-5 days

    Cashews
    2-2 ½ hours
    N/A

    Chickpeas
    12 hours
    12 hours

    Clover
    4-6 hours
    4-5 days

    Corn
    12 hours
    2-3 days

    Cow Peas
    12 hours
    3-6 days

    Fenugreek
    8 hours
    3-5 days

    Flax
    8 hours
    N/A

    Green Peas
    12 hours
    2-3 days

    Hemp Seeds
    Do not soak
    N/A

    Kamut
    7 hours
    2-3 days

    Lentils
    8 hours
    12 hours

    Macadamia Nuts
    Do not soak
    N/A

    Millet
    8 hours
    2-3 days

    Mung Beans
    1 day
    2-5 days

    Mustard
    8 hours
    2-7 days

    Nuts (all others)
    6 hours
    N/A

    Oat Groats
    6 hours
    2 days

    Pecans
    4-6 hours
    N/A

    Pine Nuts
    Do not soak
    N/A

    Pistachio Nuts
    Do not soak
    N/A

    Pumpkin Seeds (hulled)
    8 hours
    1 day

    Quinoa
    2 hours
    1 day

    Radish
    8 hours
    2-4 days

    Red Clover
    8 hours
    2-5 days

    Rye
    8 hours
    3 days

    Sesame Seeds
    8 hours
    1-2 days

    Spelt
    7 hours
    2 days

    Sunflower Seeds (hulled)
    2 hours
    2-3 days

    Triticale
    12 hours
    2-3 days

    Walnuts
    4 hours
    N/A

    Watercress
    4-6 hours
    4-5 days

    Wheatberries
    7 hours
    2-2½ days

    Wild rice
    9 hours
    3-5 days

    *Almonds are the only nuts that can easily sprout and are in their most nutritious state when they are sprouted

    • Amy says

      I don’t get the flax seeds. I soaked them but couldn’t rinse them. I am dehydrating them to see what happens but they gelled (duh, what was I thinking would happen when mixing with water?). I tried draining in a mesh strainer, and the liquid dripped briefly, but not really much before it just sat there. Any suggestions?

  6. Ilze says

    My comments were left off of my first post. I wanted to say that this
    list says that pine, macadamia and Brazil nuts do NOT need to be soaked. Hazel nuts also do not need to be soaked.

  7. David says

    I use chia, hemp flax and pumpkin seeds in my nutra bullet to make my smoothie. do I need to soak if I am emulsifing or milling the seeds in the drink?

    • Gary says

      Hi David, i just found this site, saw your post & wanted to share. I’ve been doing that for years & seems to be working ok for me. I grind it all up in a bean grinder along with raw oats (hemp & flax) and that’s my morning protein shake, along with wild berries. I use ground hemp as a my protein powder instead of whey or soy supplements. I’m 51 and still lifting heavy weights at the gym. So to answer your question, i’d say you got it going on.

  8. Jan Rogers says

    There are problems soaking cashews and I am so surprised that even the so-called experts don’t know why. First of all, from my personal experience flavor does not improve by soaking cashews. There is NO flavor in a soaked cashew. Doesn’t anyone know that a cashew is not a nut? Ever seen a cashew in the shell? You never will. Ever seen a cashew sprout? A cashew “nut” is a little appendage that grows on the end of a cashew apple, which grows in the tropics. Reportedly the apples aren’t any good but are grown only for the “nut”. They have a skin, NOT a shell and the skin is extremely poisonous. So if you use a knife or a fingernail to peel it off, it will contaminate the cashew “nut”. Therefore, they are boiled and the skins lift off and rise to the top. So there is no such thing as a raw cashew. So the only reason I can see to soak them is that maybe they expand and recipes are written with that in mind and if you don’t do it, it may not turn out because the measurement won’t be right. Does anyone know about this?

    • says

      I understand that “Cashew nut” is a misnomer. It’s just an edible dingle-dangle that’s attached to a fruit/nut that is not edible. I’m guessing that the curly white cashew dingle-dangle that we eat is not viable (ie not the seed), so it has no enzyme inhibitor, which would be found in the actual cashew seed which is inside the cashew apple, which is not edible anyway. Have I got it right? :) Just guessing.

      • lylah says

        Hi,
        so from your comments Tomas and Ron, we do not need to soak cashews b/c they are not nuts, correct? I sure hope so bc the soaking and drying process seems very long and not doable for me right now. :-( And I love cashews!

    • eks says

      Actually the cashew fruit can be eaten; indeed, it is sold as such and eaten in many countries. You just have to ensure that it is well ripened before eating it. The fruit is very juicy and has an unique taste that is very enjoyable. Most definitely worth trying if you can get hold of some.

      Also, you wrote, “They have a skin, NOT a shell…” In the context, “they” appears wrongly to refer to the fruit, but should refer to the cashed “nut” itself.

    • eks says

      Actually the cashew fruit can be eaten; indeed, it is sold as such and eaten in many countries. You just have to ensure that it is well ripened before eating it. The fruit is very juicy and has an unique taste that is very enjoyable. Most definitely worth trying if you can get hold of some.

      Also, just to clarify: you wrote, “They have a skin, NOT a shell…” In the context, “they” appears wrongly to refer to the fruit, but should rightly refer to the cashew “nut”.

  9. earthmama says

    Hi I am wondering if, while dehydrating in the oven (mine only goes as low as 180 degrees), I could add some organic maple syrup on hazelnuts to give them that flavor and sweetness? Yes I know sugar isnt healthy. At what point would one add the maple syrup?
    Thanks

  10. Craig says

    Ok…. I should soak the almonds. Can I skip the drying process, and simply eat the now soaked almonds? There by perhaps putting a small amount of nuts into some water overnight, each night, and consuming them the next day? I’ve just been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, and am trying to slow down the cell growth by changing to the paleo diet.

    • Craig says

      okok….. I missed reading above. Sprouting! I see that sprouting the almonds is possible and nutritionally better. I’ll look into how to do that.

      • Linda says

        eat plenty of turmeric, 4 T suggest for people dealing with cancers, suppose to shrink tumors and read some have disappeared.

  11. Stan says

    Kimberly, Thank you, thank you, for the list of drying times for nuts and others.

    I have avoided legumes and was shocked to learn that it was nuts that were my worst enemy. I love to snack on nuts, thinking they were more helpful.

    Is salt used heavy or light? or is it needed at all?
    Stan

  12. Sharon says

    I’ve recently learned about the importance of soaking grains, beans and nuts. I am searching for the best way to soak and dry nuts. I noticed this article says that nuts are lower in phytic acid than grains. However on the Weston Price website, I quote: “In general, nuts contain levels of phytic acid equal to or higher than those of grains. Therefore those consuming peanut butter, nut butters or nut flours, will take in phytate levels similar to those in unsoaked grains.” They also provide a list of foods in order of how many mg of phytic acid are found in various foods,

    http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

  13. says

    I’ve got a question along the lines of what Tomas said before. If the cashew isn’t raw, then any enzyme inhibitors or phytic acid in it have already been destroyed, so I don’t understand why it is still meant to be beneficial to soak and dry them. Can anyone answer this please??
    Thanks!

  14. fiona de boom boom says

    thanks for this information!
    i am curious: i have read that pecans and walnuts (and other hard-shell nuts) contain less enzyme inhibitors because the hard shells protected them. i have also experienced that these nuts don’t cause me a large reaction when un-soaked.
    that said, i trust you and sally fallon, and i have pretty terrible digestion overall so i’d like to cover all my bases.
    what i am wondering is whether i can soak walnuts, pecans, or even almonds and then freeze rather than dehydrating. i don’t have a dehydrator and my oven doesn’t go so low, so i wondered whether this would be another way i could have them ready to go without being as freshly soaked. i also think it might make a kind of nice summer snack, but curious if anyone has tried it and how it worked?
    thanks,
    f

  15. Susan says

    What if I put in squeezed lemon instead of sea salt for the cashew soak? Is that ok? Did I ruin something?

    Last time I oversoaked (for too long) the cashews, and they did not taste good.

  16. C. Brecht says

    The newest research, conveyed by Chris Kresser, is that nuts have far more phytates than grains. Just another reason not to skip the soaking!

  17. Vicki says

    I have a question about soaking the cashews. In the article it said to soak them no longer than 6 hours but above in one of the comments it says to soak them 2-2 1/2 hrs. That is a big difference. The first batch I fixed, I soaked them for exactly 6 hrs. and there were purple spots on some of them (mold maybe?) Was wondering if the 6 hrs. was too long? Also wanted to know if I could use my dehydrator because I don’t like leaving my oven on while I sleep. It only goes up to 160 degrees. Is that hot enough?

  18. Anna says

    Hi, I’m very new to activating nuts & seeds, so still trying to get my head around it!
    I’ve been placing my nuts and seeds that I plan to eat the following morning on my breakfast in salted water overnight, I then rinse, drain and eat immediately.
    Is this ok? Or do I HAVE to dehydrate to complete the process?
    I haven’t got a dehydrator yet, but will hopefully buy one soon.
    Until then, is it ok to just activate small amounts each night and eat first thing the next morning??

    Thank you

    • M Z says

      Yes, in fact it’s better to eat them without dehydrating, as dehydrating destroys some nutrients in the process of making the nuts crunchy. It’s the soaking that inactivates the enzyme inhibitors, etc. Cooking also destroys some antinutrients (and nutrients).

  19. says

    One of the comments posted above said this:

    “After soaking, you can dehydrate at 105 degrees until the nuts/seeds are completely dry. Store in the refrigerator or freezer to keep them fresh. Use within 3 days.”

    Can anyone verify that this is true? Why must they be used within 3 days if they have been dehydrated?

    -Adam

  20. Terri S says

    Until today I have never heard about needing to soak my nuts or grains. I eat a lot of nuts, particularly raw almonds and walnuts and I never have stomach problems. Are the other benefits worth the effort?

  21. Sarah says

    Nourishing Traditions calls for hulled pumpkin seeds. Do I really have to hull every seed? It seems incredibly time-consuming to hull each tiny seed! Will soaking still remove the bad enzymes if the hull is still on?

  22. being says

    Thank you for sharing the information. Soaking nuts and seeds has, in my experience, helped make them easier for digestion at least. Just be sure to fully dehydrate the nuts/seeds to avoid them getting mouldy. And keep the temperature low enough to keep from cooking the nuts/seeds if you wish to keep them raw. I buy organice, raw, non-gmo wholefood from iherb.com, a natural products superstore with really great price and one of the best international shipping rate at $4 flat (free within US with minimum purchase). There’s also $10 discount for purchase over $40 given to new customers when you use discount coupon code EJE156 :D

  23. Passerby says

    Hello, is it ok if i soaked only the amount I would like to consume and then just dry it on a paper towel and eat them straight away ?

    • Dee says

      This is exactly what I did this morning. I soaked for 7 hours overnight, rinsed thoroughly, dried with a paper towel, them set in the refrigerator until my steel cut oats were cooked. I used walnuts, and they still had a crunch even after just having been soaked.

  24. Kim says

    Do you know if it matters to use tap water or is it better to use distilled or bottled water? I don’t know if any chlorine or chemicals from city water would alter outcomes.

  25. Kim says

    Do you know if it matters if I use city water which may have chlorine in it? Or should I use bottled water or distilled?

  26. Alice says

    Hi there,

    Instead of dehydrating/drying the nuts – can the nuts after finishing their soaking time – be used straight away in a recipe?

    Thanks

Trackbacks

  1. [...] fish), raw whole milk, raw cheeses,dark green veggies, soaked and cooked legumes, nuts and seeds (soaked and dehydrated), high nutrient grains, like quinoa, grass fed butter (read my post on a few brands I like), and [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>