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In this article on how and why to soak nuts and seeds, we look at the enzymatic change that occurs in soaked nuts and why this change makes nuts more digestible and nutritious.
Soaking raw nuts and seeds (often overnight in salt water) is essential for good general health, if you plan to eat nuts as a regular part of your diet. Former cultures knew to ferment their grains. Modern trends toward the healthfulness of raw foods or even the benefits of a grain-free diet often miss this important step.
In other words, if you are a raw foodie, or on a grain-free diet such as Paleo, it is vital that you soak the nuts you consume. This includes almond butter. This step or method even works well with peanuts.
In this post, we’ll also look at how to sprout (or pre-digest) nuts and seeds to make “crispy nuts”, also called “awakened” nuts.
Why to soak nuts?
Phytic acid is the main storage form of phosphorous in plant tissues.
Phytic acid in grains, nuts and seeds needs to be neutralized; otherwise, it binds with minerals in the body, creating nutritional deficiencies. This really isn’t an optional step. We should soak all the nuts, seeds and grains we eat — to better access their nutrition but also to create a gentler digestive process.
Soaked refers to a soaking process in salted or acidulated water that creates an enzymatic change within nuts and seeds. Raw nuts are dormant (storing nutrients and protecting themselves from winter). In this state, nuts are indigestible.
A diet too heavy in raw or roasted nuts or seeds that haven’t been soaked or sprouted will deplete the body of its much-needed minerals. Digestive discomfort or allergic reactions after eating nuts can be the body’s way of telling us that the digestive mechanism is being overly taxed.
Conversely, when we soak nuts and seeds before eating them, our bodies can access their nutrition!
Tubers and beans
Even tubers and beans will benefit from a significant reduction in their phytic acid content. This is done through proper soaking and cooking methods. (In the case of beans, gas produced in the lower intestine is partially a result of improper preparation methods.)
If you are grain-free and legume-free, possibly also starch-free, you can see why our bodies have an easier time healing without these foods! They are high in phytic acid, hard to digest and rob the body of the nutrients it needs to get healthy!
While some ingestion of phytic acid is unavoidable and actually fine, we need to lower that amount; and for nuts, a long soaking in salted water is an easy method to accomplish that objective.
How to soak and sprout seeds
There are two seeds that are harder to soak. They are chia seeds and flax seeds.
Despite being tricky to pre-digest, these seeds are still high in phytic acid and should be eaten in moderation. Read about Which Seeds to Soak and How HERE, or soak them in a sourdough batter, or in kefir or yogurt overnight, to reduce antinutrients.
Conclusion on why to soak nuts
Un-sprouted granola and raw muesli aren’t healthy; dry cereal is deleterious to one’s health; whole grain breads that aren’t made from a traditional sourdough or from fermented grain are all likely to lead to the loss of essential nutrients and compromised health.
As you execute the following soaking technique, enjoy the connection you may feel with women and men who lived centuries and millennia ago, those who made their food from corn, acorns, rye, and wheat, cultures that soaked, pounded, strained, fermented and enjoyed a beneficial relationship with their food.
Soaked, Sprouted, Dehydrated “Crispy” Nuts Technique
How to soak and sprout nuts and most seeds
For every 4 cups of raw seeds or nuts, cover with room temperature, filtered water by two inches, and 2 tsp. sea salt. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Leave out overnight at room temperature to soak. Drain them in a colander; and rinse them well. If you suspect old nuts, or possible rancidity, or mold, such as with peanuts, add 1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder to the salted soaking water. This will kill any potential mold.
(As a side note, cashews have already been heated. Their shells are toxic and a heating process is used to eliminate the chemical poison and to free the nut from its lining. Therefore, no cashew we buy from the store is technically “raw.” Shorter soaking times for cashews are still beneficial; whereas longer soaking times will render them slimy. 2 hours to overnight is adequate for cashews and still helps to reduce phytic acid. Subsequent dehydrating and roasting are also beneficial, as with all nuts and seeds, although roasting can destroy beneficial enzymes.)
Dehydrating nuts and seeds
Use any soaked nut or seed that has been duly drained and rinsed. Toss with optional sea salt to taste and place in your dehydrator or low temperature-capable oven, 95-145 degrees. For some nuts, such as macadamia or hazelnut, this process of completely drying out the nut can take as long as 72 hours. For smaller seeds, 24 hours may still be necessary. To check your nuts’ doneness, let one or all cool to room temperature. Then eat one. It should be very dry and crispy, no softness or chewiness to the inside. With the exception of walnuts, (which should still be stored in the refrigerator or freezer because their oils go rancid more quickly), the nuts will have a good shelf life and may now be stored in a sealed container in your pantry.
Happily, sprouted nuts are the crispiest, most palatable way to eat nuts.
How to make sprouted nut flour and butter
Place “crispy nuts” into food processor. Blend to a flour consistency. If you desire nut butter or seed butter, just keep blending! Some nuts or seeds also benefit from a short roasting at 350 degrees Fahrenheit before making nut butter. This further reduces phytic acid, and it helps to release the nuts’ oils, which allows the butter to form.
Note: Do not use a blender to make nut or seed flour; it will make butter too quickly and unevenly chop the nuts.