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!

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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!

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for posting this. It’s so essential and yet so many people don’t do this. Thanks also for the portions and amount of water/salt ratios as well.

    • Bob says

      Thanks for the tip.
      My son lives in an area that has a lot of walnut trees.
      I picked up a sackfull. I removed the husk of cource.
      Now, what do i do with them. I always remember my aunt cracking them in the winter when there was nothing else to do. Should i put them in the fridg now, or the freezer or them them dry first.
      Thanks, Bob

  2. Cheryl says

    If I buy dry roasted nuts, should I soak them, My husband has developed a rash, and we think it might be due to the fact he eats a lot!! of nuts, and fruit

    • Liberty says

      Roasting the nuts makes the nut’s fat rancid and creates free radicals, so you will want to get raw nuts and soak them.

  3. says

    Thank you! I checked your site first, but couldn’t find this information, looked all over the web, and then finally found it just by browsing. I haven’t found any other site that explains this subject better.

  4. Teri Ensslin says

    In NT, the Crispy Almonds recipe has us soak them “7 hours or overnight.” But the recipe in the Sprouted Grains, Nuts & Seeds chapter (115) says we can sprout them for three days. How beneficial, if at all, might those extra 2.5 days be? I find the almonds to taste much more digestible overnight, but if the extra time takes out significantly more antinutrients, then it’s well worth it, right?

  5. Bonnie says

    I usually buy pecan and walnut ‘pieces’, not whole nuts. Should they still be soaked? I assume they should since the goal is not to sprout them but to remove the enzyme inhibitors. Does anyone have any info on this?

      • stomachisalwaysupset says

        I dry my nuts on the counter and experience no mold whatsoever. HOWEVER, I live in a 10-15% humidity climate, Reno, NV. From experience, I believe you will be ok with counter drying if your region’s climate is very, very, dry, like it is here.

        • Ann says

          If you leave your soaked nuts out to dry on the counter that’s probably why your “stomach is always upset”. That’s a very dangerous practice and never, ever recommended. Drying in an oven, dehydrator or the sun are the only reasonable options.

    • Kim says

      I leave the oven open a crack and it stays at just above 150. Purchase a oven thermometer and check see what your own oven responds.

      • Claire says

        Peanuts may have “anti-nutrients,” but they also have many nutrients. See below from Wikipedia:

        Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
        Energy 2,385 kJ (570 kcal)
        Carbohydrates 21 g
        - Sugars 0.0 g
        - Dietary fiber 9 g
        Fat 48 g
        - saturated 7 g
        - monounsaturated 24 g
        - polyunsaturated 16 g
        Protein 25 g
        - Tryptophan 0.2445 g
        - Threonine 0.859 g
        - Isoleucine 0.882 g
        - Leucine 1.627 g
        - Lysine 0.901 g
        - Methionine 0.308 g
        - Cystine 0.322 g
        - Phenylalanine 1.300 g
        - Tyrosine 1.020 g
        - Valine 1.052 g
        - Arginine 3.001 g
        - Histidine 0.634 g
        - Alanine 0.997 g
        - Aspartic acid 3.060 g
        - Glutamic acid 5.243 g
        - Glycine 1.512 g
        - Proline 1.107 g
        - Serine 1.236 g
        Water 4.26 g
        Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.6 mg (52%)
        Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.3 mg (25%)
        Niacin (vit. B3) 12.9 mg (86%)
        Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.8 mg (36%)
        Vitamin B6 0.3 mg (23%)
        Folate (vit. B9) 246 μg (62%)
        Vitamin C 0.0 mg (0%)
        Calcium 62 mg (6%)
        Iron 2 mg (15%)
        Magnesium 184 mg (52%)
        Phosphorus 336 mg (48%)
        Potassium 332 mg (7%)
        Zinc 3.3 mg (35%)

  6. Lori says

    Hi,
    I’ve read in some places that you need to change the water every 3 to 4 hours when soaking almonds. Is this true and if so, do you add salt every time?

    I’m very new to soaking/sprouting. Thanks for your help.

  7. Becca says

    OK I’ve soaked my almonds and they appear to be moldy (strange small white clumps in water)! Should I still dry them and eat them? I hate to lose $15 worth of nuts but I don’t want to eat something that’s bad for me. These are organic but not explicitly “raw” almonds (first mistake ;) purchased from the bulk section. Do you buy your almonds from outside of the US to get them raw?

  8. Lori says

    Love this site, GREAT info! Thank you.
    Here are a few question.
    1.If you don’t want grain temps to rise above 117 while grinding, why is it ok to dehydrate nuts and seeds at 150 degrees?
    2.Some coultures roast their grains/seeds, are there no nutritional benefits to it?
    3.Why do you recommend hulless seeds and skinless peanuts? I assumed the hulls were a good fiber source and read spanish peanut skins were very nutritous?

  9. says

    I just finished soaking and drying cashews but I feel as though something went wrong. I used raw cashews, soaked in salted water for about 5 hours, rinsed, and placed on 2 cookies sheets lined with foil in my toaster oven on 200 degrees for about 13 hours. I stirred about 3 to 4 times throughout. They are wonderfully crispy and don’t smell bad to me, but they seems to have roasted. When you bite it in half the inside is brownish color and the outside has a gray brown type color. Did I over cook? What are they suppose to look like? Are cashews this sensitive? I’m feeling like I should throw them out. My husband is concerned. He thinks we heated them up too much/high and now the oils inside the nuts are rancid and unhealthy (inflammatory). Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

    • Stevie Bee says

      Cashews don’t have to be soaked, but can be and will be creamier and quite soft by comparison. However, you should try the truly raw cashews, not the so-called ‘raw’, which have been heated to remove the skin. The truly raw cashews are sweet and creamy and far superior to the so-called ‘raw’. My tip is if you are soaking cashews, soak them 3-4 hours, rinse and then use in your next meal. There’s really no need to dehydrate unless you’re storing them up for future meals or snacks, in which case they should keep for up to say 3 days in the fridge. By the way, if you’ve hit 200°F, you’ve cooked them! Aim for 118°F (47°C).
      Useful sites: http://www.raw-food-living.com/soaking-nuts.html , http://www.living-foods.com/articles/sprouting.html

      • Ann says

        Where do you buy your really raw cashews? I’m hoping I can find a reasonable price, so far the price on the one company I’ve found is @ $17 a lb!

  10. Julie H says

    I don’t have a dehydrator or the oven option. Do you think it would work to soak them and not dry them if I put them directly into a smoothie? I normally grind pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder. Could I grind them and then soak the powder? Any thoughts would be appreciated. :-)

    • Ann says

      A lot of recipes say you can soak cashews and eat them directly after without drying. I’m not sure about soaking the powder seems like it’d be touch to strain.

  11. Wendi says

    Do I use this same process for walnuts and sunflower seeds Or is there something else/different that I need to do?

  12. says

    since becoming a weston price foundation fan, i always soak and roast nuts. i am now interested in having a back stock of food for emergency purposes. how long do you think
    the nuts will last if they are sealed in a jar or even vacumn sealed in a jar?

  13. says

    Chia seeds: what is the protocol for these? I saw them being prepared by soaking, but the water they soaked in was consumed because it makes a beneficial gel… is this safe to eat or high in enzyme inhibitors or phytic acid ?

  14. amy says

    I tried this with organic raw (but not skinless) peanuts and almonds as well as organic shelled sunflower and pumpkin seeds. The seeds dehydrated for about 12 hours and are “ok” but not as salty as we would like. The peanuts and almonds still taste “raw” and are not cruncy and tasty like other roasted nuts that we are used to. They are very bland. I really want this to work so I can offer healthy snacks to my family. PLEASE HELP, do yours turn out cruncy with improved flavor or are they still raw tasting and bland following the NT recipe? Do you think the nuts were not dehydrated long enough? I am thinking about setting them back in for another 6-12 hours to see if the raw taste disapears. THANKS

    • Ann says

      Nuts.com has some pre-soaked nuts that have been flavored. Healthy nuts are actually rather bland but it’s not healthy to eat them any other way but raw and soaked. I would do some searches on the net for recipes too.

  15. RawDanny says

    Thank you for this article, but I have one question.
    How long should I soak and dehydrate sunflowerseeds?
    Thanks again
    ~Danny

    • kateS says

      I have the same question. I find that if I soak them too long (overnight or a little longer), they seem to have less substance to them once I’ve dried them. It is as though they lose nutrition in the long soaking.

  16. Julie B. says

    I soaked a large amount of macadamia nuts for too long…it ended up being about 3-4 days until I got to them. They developed the slimy coating and “bad” flavor that you mentioned. Just wondered if there was some other way to use them up or should I just throw them all out? Will they make me sick to eat them now?

  17. says

    Came across this site as I was exploring tree-nut cheeses; I’m a little eerie about mold formations and soaking nuts for prolong periods- but, I might give it a try.
    Thanks for the information, take care-

  18. says

    Hi,
    I am in the midst of my first attempt at sprouting and drying almonds, which I discoverd in our local health food store. I soaked them overnight, rinsed them, blanched for 1 minute and removed the thin brown “skin”. They were very crunchy at this point. I put them in my gas oven with the pilot light on which is a temp of 95-100 degree F. After 1 day they had softened and lost their wonderful crunch. I increased the temp to 110 overnight, but still no crunch. The sprouted almonds I bought in the store were brown, which makes me wonder if they were roasted, as my almonds retain the characteristic ivory color. The store-bought were very crunchy, the same kind of crunch that mine had before they went into the oven. Can you tell me if I have made an error somehow in my technique? All the websites that talk about dried sprouted almonds tote the crunch.
    Thanks for your assistance!

  19. Rosemary says

    There don’t seem to be any scientific studies supporting the benefits of soaking nuts. Most of a nut is fat, therefore not water soluble. Would love if you knew of more credible scientific evidence.

    • Nicole says

      Did you try the science experiment yourself? Sometimes the experience can give you the knowing and you do not have to rely on outside “expert opinions”. Did it change your digestion with soaking versus not soaking?

  20. Elizabeth says

    Hi, I’m wanting to soak nuts to make them more easily digestible for me to use in a (cooked) wheatfree nut bar. Given that I’ll be cooking them in the bars anyway, do they need to be dehydrated for so long? (I”ll be using an oven to dehydrate). Having an oven on for so long will use so much power :(

  21. Jam says

    So….. hold on. I’m not saying this preparation is wrong or anything…. but WOW. 12-24 hours to DRY in the OVEN?!?! That’s absurd! Holy crap….. you know how much energy that would take? I assume A LOT for only a few damn nuts. Plus you have to tend to it by stirring it once in a while. WOW. So impractical for today’s society. Just wanted to vent that.

        • Naomi says

          Or you could always just pay the ridiculous prices for sprouted or activated nuts in the health food stores! Loving this site as it gives us the option to do it ourselves – I suspect you would still be saving money using the oven for that long as opposed to forking out $8.95 for 200g of activated almonds (here in Australia). Just sayin…

  22. Euge says

    Hello!
    I am new in this (soaking and dehydrating)…
    I’m trying a doctor’s recipe: seeds and cereals (ground Flaxseeds, amarantah, barley, millet, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, etc), add boiling water and stay overnight, next morning add fruit and taste!… Shall I soak and dehydrate the seeds and grains first?
    Second question… They taste too ‘grass’, do you think that I have to cooked them before following the recipe?
    Thanks a lot!

  23. Lars says

    Why is the roasting nessecary? Why Do You have to roast them for such a long time? Why not roast them quicker?

  24. Frank Rizzo says

    First off. Thanks for the article. Why the different salinities for different kinds of nuts. Is this from your experimentation or from another source? Thanks again.

  25. Charlotte Travis says

    So good to find this website. I’ve been soaking nuts for many years and either baking at 200F. or dehydrating at about 105 degrees(lately at 115F to speed up the process a bit), and I keep them in for 16-24 hours to get them really crispy. I didn’t realize you needed to add salt to the soak water, so I’m glad you gave the amounts to use. I eat a lot of pumpkin seeds that I dry roast and then add olive oil and sea salt to, but I hadn’t soaked them first, but now that I’ve learned about adding salt before soaking I think they will be just as good, and better digested.

  26. says

    You can soak almonds, or you can sprout almonds. Soaking, to answer one comment, does make a difference because the almond (RAW almond only!) is a living organism. It reacts to water like a seed should: it absorbs water, enzymes get active, they get rid of the inhibitors that protected the almond until now, and prepares to discard the peel. Given more time, soaking leads to sprouting. That’s how almond trees happen. Circle of life.
    Soaked almonds are more digestible and if you want, you can peel them after soaking just 3 or 4 hours. DO NOT BLANCH! Heat destroys the precious enzymes that are so crucial to your health. DO change the water every 6 to 8 hours. Stagnant water goes bad. In nature, water is usually moving: rain, streams, etc. I usually just soak overnight, rinse a couple of times in a colander, then peel the almonds. No dehydration is necessary – just leave out on a kitchen towel for a couple of hours, then store in the fridge. With the RASAP (Raw Almonds, Soaked And Peeled) I make almond milk, bread, puddings, cookies, add to salads or to smoothies. Although some of those are cooked, most of the uses leave the almonds raw, which preserves the enzymes.

  27. Katrina says

    Help! Do I need to soak sunflower seeds? I am assuming so since other seeds and nuts need it… but I can’t find the soaking/dehydrating times in NT or above… I saw stuff in NT about sprouting them but prefer to soak. Please advise so we aren’t loaded w/ phytic acid and such :)

  28. Pamela says

    hello. I am new to the soaking and dehydrating world. I tried two batches of raw unpasteurized almonds imported from Italy. The first batch I put in the dehydrator at 115 degrees for 12 hours, but they ended up being overly dry and not crispy. The second batch I dehydrated at 100 degrees for 9.5 hours with the same result. Do I need to dehydrate for even less time, or is that I am actually not letting it dehydrate enough (in other words, that it needs more like 12-24 hours to get crispy even though they are fully dry already)?

    Thanks for your guidance!

  29. lucy says

    Can you soak pumpkin seeds straight from the pumpkin? As in, after you’ve gutted a pumpkin to cook, can you soak the seeds that were inside? Or are additional preparations needed?

  30. Mike says

    I soaked my pecans 4 cups in 1/3 cup of Ice cream salt and 1 tbs worcestershire for 3 hours. Drained and washed. Roasted in toaster oven for 35 min at 175. Stired and roasted for 35 min more. Great crisp. Much better than roasting in butter or peanut oil.

  31. Paul Minett says

    Thanks for the interesting info about soaking nuts. I created the following table based on your information:
    Type of nut Quantity of nuts Quantity of salt Soaking time Drying time
    Pumpkin seed 4 cups 2 tablespoons 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Pecans 4 cups 2 teaspoons 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Walnuts 4 cups 2 teaspoons 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Peanuts 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Pine nuts 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Hazelnuts 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Almonds 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Cashews 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours
    Macadamia 4 cups 1 tablespoon 7 hours or overnight 12 – 24 hours

    • Nikki says

      Paul, regarding your table. Cashews should be soaked for no longer than 6 hours NOT 7 – overnight. This is important as “raw” cashews are not truly raw and therefore need to be treated differently from those that are.

  32. Craig says

    I just dried some almonds overnight in the oven. A good bit of them have black spots on them. Do you know what would cause this? Is that mold? The almonds were purchased from a local health food store. They are supposed to be raw but likely are pasteurized.

  33. Nikki says

    Paul, regarding your table. All good but cashews should be soaked for no longer than 6 hours NOT 7 – overnight. This is important as “raw” cashews are not truly raw and therefore need to be treated differently from those that are.

  34. says

    Thanks so much for this great article.
    I just soaked almonds and they turned out great.
    I used them for a new GF recipe i developed, (Cocoa-Date Nut Bars), and linked to this blog post for my readers to learn how too!

    robin

  35. David Dee says

    Thank you so much!
    I soaked my nuts last night and when my girlfriend popped them in her mouth, she absolutely loved them. The flavor was literally bursting into her mouth.

    • Sean says

      Indeed! My wife also seems to like the milk I make from my nuts. Nothing like home made nut milk. The recipe is super easy too!

  36. Brian says

    I’ll soak nuts and seeds overnight, drain in the morning and store in an air-tight container in the fridge. I eat them within two or three days max. Drying is way too much effort. Didn’t know about adding sea salt to the water. Thanks for the tip!

  37. Chad says

    How much phytic acid does a grown plant, or sprouted seed have, of which has fruit and vegetables growing from it?
    And if the answer I’m looking for is “not much” does this mean we should just be eating fruit, vegetables or sprouted grains? Also it appears that phytic acid has a role in Iron depletion as in this article http://www.livestrong.com/article/32697-foods-block-iron-absorption/
    I do love soaked nuts though!
    Thanks for the interesting read.

  38. says

    Thanks for all the great info. Who knew! If I’m going to make my own nut butter, which is the one nut that is the easiest and best to use? I read that its impossible to buy real raw almonds now, unless i mail order them in (too much hassle), and you said that cashews have already been heat processed twice, so the fats have already probably gone rancid? So, if I shop at my local Whole Foods, what is the best, safest and easiest option of nut to get to soak?

    thanks

  39. Lexie says

    Great post, thanks. I have been soaking nuts off and on…and just started to again. My oven is crappy, thus good for drying soaked nuts (stays warm in there all the time)… recently I am getting black spots on my almonds when they are drying… it does not smell or taste bad (yes, I have tried a few and feel fine) but I am wondering if the black spots are mold. Thanks!

  40. Ben says

    I would also like to know about pecan and walnut halves. Do these benefit from soaking? How long for? or do they have to be whole pecans / walnuts?

    Thanks

  41. says

    Interesting that you are unaware that grains do indeed contain phytic acid – it is in all “seeds” whether they be grain, peas, beans, nuts.

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