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!
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.
4 cups of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
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
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
Soaking time: at least 7 hours or overnight
Dehydrating time:12-24 hours, until completely dry and crisp
Store in an airtight container
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
Soaking time: At least 7 hours, or overnight
Dehydrating Time:12 -24 hours, until completely dry and crisp
* You can also use almond slivers
4 cups of “raw” cashews
1 tablespoon sea salt
“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
4 cups of raw macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon sea salt
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 just tried activating almonds yesterday, I did half plain and mixed the other with chilli and honey. Do those ones still need to be really crispy or is it ok for them to still have a little bit of stickiness from the honey/chilli?
This is such a great article! I am working on typing a recipe for a gluten-free/ dairy-free artichoke and salmon quiche that I plan to serve this weekend at a bridal shower I am hosting for my girlfriend because my girlfriends mother is going to help me make some of the quiche (we need to make at least 4!) Anyway, I am using cashew cream instead of dairy cream for the quiche and although I normally soak my cashews for about 2 hours I didn’t know what the maximum time was. So glad I stumbled on your article–I am going to share the link with our Clean Cuisine audience on Facebook now 😉
Dennis- you are a fool. As the old table goes – “the irony of food based nutrition is that it requires no scientific verification (unlike traditional medicine). It just works..”
The catch is,, is the seed alive. Many things now days are radiated to kill bacteria and such within the fruit, nut, vegetable or whatever. The problem with that is if its a live food, the radiation then kills the food. So sticking something in water that is dead,,well it then starts to rot/smell and get rancid, as whatever bacteria is around will start to eat it. Sticking a live seed or whatever in water, usually will not rot, but will come to life, and start to grow. Its the growing process as a seed is in water that starts the enzyme creation and makes the nutrients in such available for the body. Just thought I would mention that as its a major issue with the whole process.
As Steve mentioned above that soaking something that was already dead in essence and just soaking it seems like a easy recipe for botchalisum….just kidding ,kinda. So I am wondering if this method is just for better taste and texture ? Or is this sprouting technique one in the same or something else entirely? I thought that since the almond or whatever nut one would choose will start sprout and grow and that is where they become so nutrient dense compared to just raw nuts or toasted nuts. Also where have you found the best quality nuts to sprout? I feel like using just any would be a big waste of time even if it says organic or not I am wondering if there really is a trusted company that I can either purchase from a supermarket or online ? So soaking is different than sprouting ??? So Steve,or does anyone please have any suggestions for a option for sprouting and for soaking ? And what are the best methods and what is the difference. I should be going to do research now and probably prior to asking for advice via pintrest so thank you for your time and advice.
I know this is an old thread, but seeing as I’m reading it now, others may be, too, and benefit from my comment. I understand you were mostly joking, but for those who don’t know, botulinim toxin (botulism) only grows in an environment with NO oxygen. Oxygen touches the water covering anything you soak, so no botulism can result.
yes, also, salt acts as a preservative
For almonds, you can pass on the irradiated U.S. almonds and instead purchase Spanish or European almonds. And, they taste so good!
I would like to know if “dehydrating time” is in an oven at 150F or with a dehydrator.
I dehydrated my Almond nuts in my convection oven at 40 degC (it’s the only lowest setting available) for 17 hours and notice my almonds look like it has shrunk although it felt feel like it is still moist. I split open in half and notice water in the almonds. Prior to 17 hours, at 15 hours, I assume the almonds are still not yet dry because I feel like it is still moist and the middle of the almonds are still very white in colour, (I read somewhere if you split the almonds in half after dehydrating, to know that it was successfully dehydrated, the almonds shouldn’t be very white in color) and so I continue another additional 2 hours. That’s when at 17 hours I notice some of the almonds shrunk although still feel like it is moist. I wonder where I go wrong. Am I suppose to dehydrate till it is 24 hours ? Will that not shrunk the almonds further ?
My suggestion is to use your oven on the regular oven setting, the convection setting. It sounds as though the convection action dried the exterior, but it happened way more quickly than anything happened in the interior of the almond. I have also successfully dried nuts on my glass-enclosed balcony in very warm/hot weather, so the balcony was 85-105 degrees (Fahrenheit). This is further proof that the convection setting is too strong to dry the nut evenly. Hope your next batch works out fine!
I mistyped the first sentence up there. I meant to say, do NOT use your oven on the convection setting; use it on the regular setting.
I am allergic to tree nuts and I was wondering if you know if the soaking will remove the allergin?
No! I wouldn’t eat soaked nuts if you are allergic, for sure.
It will help if the allergy is simply that walnuts bother your tongue, for example. But for full-on allergies, it probably will NOT help, or at least, you don’t want to experiment to find out!
I regularly soak my nuts, I like to use quite warm water so as to maintain the plump outer casing without causing the unsightly shrivel that too cold water can cause- not to mention shrinkage.
I don’t worry about sticking them in the oven though- my wife just pops them in her mouth and eats them as they are.
Good to know! It is winter now in my locale and I have my nuts soaking on the radiator.
What happens if you don’t dry/dehydrate the nuts after soaking them? Will we miss out on certain benefits?
Hi, I soaked some walnuts and almonds overnight, then dried them, and they gave us gas. Did I soak them too long perhaps?
I soak walnuts in a Nalgene bottle, should I screw the top on, or leave it uncovered?
Also, are there drawbacks to not dehydrating the nuts afterwards and simply eating them after rinsing?
Help! Everytime I go to soak almonds, they always float to the top of the water so they are submersed. I am using raw skin-on almonds from whole foods and water filtered from berkey. Some of the blogs say if they are floating then they are rancid, but that means that all of mine are rancid. What am I doing wrong.
Unfortunately, they probably ARE rancid. It’s not easy finding good quality nuts , especially almonds and peanuts. The best looking nuts are usually the nuts sold whole but many are still rancid. Just imagine the nuts you get when you purchase almond flour or any nut butter! Yuck! Good luck finding some nice fresh almonds. I would go directly to the source if you are able. That’s were you’ll get the freshest nuts/veggies/anything. Preaching to the choir here 🙂
how long do you soak pistasio nuts?
Hi there – I have just soaked my almonds over night ready to make almond milk this morning but at least half have floated to the top – this is an indication they are rancid – I should take them back to the store where they were purchased? – it is my understanding rancid or bad nuts can do a lot of harm as can rancid oil????
The only thing I don’t like about soaking almonds or cashews in salt is that when making nut milk, the milk goes bad SO much quicker than when I just soak the nuts in filtered water.
Can I rinse the nuts after soaking in salt so there is less sodium? Do they absorb much sodium during soaking? And can the “warm place” be outside in the sun, like sun tea?
can I soak almonds,walnuts,pecan.hazelnut together.
I ran out of one kind of sea salt and mixed two types of sea salt to soak nuts. Is this this ok. I used Redmond sea salt and a little Celtic. Thanks!
Sorry guys but actual scientific research proves that soaking the nuts makes no difference to the phytate or nutrient levels in nuts…
This research supports previous results suggesting nuts, including different forms, are an acceptable food. They are also well tolerated gastrointestinally, but soaking does not improve gastrointestinal tolerance or acceptance as claimed in the lay literature.
The study you cited did not explain how and for how long the almonds were soaked/sprouted. The study only mentions phytic acid, but not what is actually being reduced with soaking which are the lectins and enzyme sprouting inhibitors that for some cause gastrointestinal stress.
I’ve got a squirrel in my back yard that eats pecans all day long and he looks very healthy.
I read this article but there was no reference to how long to soak Brazil Nuts and do they have to be dryed before eating? Please let me know because I love Brazil Nuts because of their heartiness! Thank You.. 🙂
Lol. I always soak my cashew nuts 36hrs Of course but you have to replace the water regularly and starting to lower time intervals as they approach the 20hrs mark.