Nuts and seeds are enjoyed by many, no matter the type of diet you follow. They are great as toppings, trail mixes, or a light snack. They can also act as alternative ingredients in many raw vegan recipes.
To make every snacking session or nut-comprised recipe better, it’s always a great idea to soak them beforehand. Here’s why you should make this a habit and how to do it properly.
Benefits of soaking nuts and seeds
You’ll notice that there is always an overall improvement whenever you soak nuts. Soaking for even as few as 20 minutes can lead to immense results that can make your tastebuds run wild. 7-24 hours is ideal, rinsing the nuts or seeds under water every eight hours or so to prevent mold.
Nuts will come out smoother than they were before for a more luxurious texture and flavor. Many recipes will tell you to soak nuts in advance whether they are used for nut milk or simple additions to cookies, pies, and cakes.
The first and most obvious benefit is one concerning sanitation. Soaking nuts and seeds in water will remove all of the impurities, residue, dirt, and dust that may have settled on the shell.
Not everything comes off with a cleanse, and even when you wash them at home again, there may still be something left over. A thorough soak is the best way to get rid of it all.
Soaking nuts is also beneficial for your health as the outer shells contain toxins all over as a natural means of protection. Soaking helps reduce enzyme inhibitors, phytates and polyphenols like tannins.
Among these, enzyme inhibitors can start to clog active enzyme which can interrupt natural digestive mechanisms and harm organs during the digestive process.
Phytates, which are more commonly referred to as phytic acids can clash with minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper, blocking and distorting their absorption into the body. Too much consumption of phytates can also lead to mineral deficiencies.
Increased nutrient intake
Additional positives of soaking nuts and seeds before consumption is that they will increase your intake and absorption of vitamins, making nutrients more bioavailable for digestion and absorption.
Because soaking also breaks down phytates also known as phytic acid, it can make digesting nuts easier.
Make sure to always throw out the water that you used to soak the nuts. There is no nutritional value or alternative purpose to the liquid, so it’s just dirty water.
You’ll know that the nuts have been fully soaked once the water turns dark brown and the nuts appear smoother and lighter in color. Mind you, open-skinned nuts such as cashews, Brazil nuts, and macadamias won’t turn the water as brown, but they do benefit immensely from being soaked.
How to soak nuts and seeds
Soaking nuts and seeds isn’t hard but it is a planned process if you want the best results.
- First, you’ll want a glass container as using plastic isn’t recommended. With plastic, there is the possibility of it seeping into the water and finding its way into the nuts. This can infect the nuts and ruin the initial beneficial process.
- Fill the container with nuts a quarter of the way up. You don’t want to put too many nuts in one container as they won’t wash out properly and become saturated with dirty water.
- Fill the container more than half of the way up with water. This should be more than enough water to pull out the toxins and dirt. Remember, your nut to water ratio should be 1:3 all the time, no matter the type of nut.
- Using fresh water mixed with a bit of sea salt is an excellent place to start. This helps neutralize the toxin content while making vitamins more bioavailable.
- If you’re only doing this for using the nuts in a recipe and improved taste, then 20 minutes is more than enough time for ample results.
- If you’re soaking nuts for snacking purposes, then you can soak them for longer.
- The longer you leave it in, however, the more neutralized the toxins become and the smoother the nuts will turn out. You could even leave them in overnight.
- Just be mindful of changing the water occasionally since you don’t want the nuts to absorb all of the dirt and toxins floating in the water.
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Tips and tricks
If your aim is to purify the nuts from their natural toxins, then a little concoction may be required.
- You can add sea salt and soak the nuts and seeds to eliminate all toxins. Make sure to leave them in the mixture for at least 7 hours, or overnight, if you will, to properly pull everything out.
- To dry nuts and seeds for consumption or use in recipes, you will need to use a dehydrator or the oven. The lowest temperature is best, but this will take 24-48 hours to properly pull out all the moisture inside of the nuts and seeds.
- The dehydrating time will vary based on the size and density of the nut.
- The important thing here to remember is that the contents need to be completely dried or dehydrated. Any remaining moisture will cause the nuts and seeds to mold.
- To store dehydrated nuts, use an airtight container. When dried thoroughly, they will keep well for a number of weeks in the pantry. You can also extend the life of soaked and dehydrated nuts by putting them in the fridge.
Should you soak all nuts and seeds?
Not all nuts and seeds are easy to soak or recommended. For instance, chia and flaxseeds become a gelatinous goo when soaked and are very hard to work with. If you plan on using either as an egg substitute, then the gelling effect could be helpful but if you’re looking to use them in homemade granola, for instance, then this would not be suitable.
Cashews are another nut that improves with soaking yet must be soaked for a shorter duration as they are a softer nut. When compared to other nut varieties, cashews should only be soaked for up to between 4-6 hours and not any longer. If you plan on soaking them overnight, make sure to cover the container and put it in the fridge.
Oversoaking cashews can lead to bitterness, slimy water, and the flavor leaching.
The simple act of soaking nuts and seeds before you consume them can make such a difference on your health and enjoyment. You save yourself exposure to toxins and you get better tasting treats to eat. And the best part is that there is little to no effort required on your part, just some time and patience.
Remember that soaking raw nuts and seeds helps to activate the sprouting process and makes the minerals, vitamins, fats, and proteins (all the good stuff!) more available to us and better absorbed.
To get more ideas on how to maximize your nutrient intake or just expand your plant-based cooking expertise, check out the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program.
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