You know that nuts and seeds are a great addition to a balanced diet. And they taste great too. On the downside, you’ve probably noticed that nuts can sometimes be a bit of a bear to digest, and if you have a sensitive stomach, you might have to avoid them.
But there’s an easy way to make nuts more digestible, easier on your stomach, and even more nutritious. You just add water!
Why Do You Need to Soak Nuts?
Nuts are full of good things, especially the B vitamins and minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. They are crammed full of nutrients your body needs for optimum functioning. But raw nuts are practically impossible to digest.
Nuts and seeds are designed by Nature to be future plants and trees. As well as minerals and vitamins, they are protected by defense mechanisms like enzyme inhibitors, tannic acid, and phytic acid to keep them safe long enough to germinate. Out in Nature, the signal for these protective elements to stand down and release the nutrients for growth is water.
As far as humans go, the main problem for digestion is the high level of phytic acid, an antioxidant that locks in the nuts’ nutrients. It can even suck out the minerals you already have in your body, leading to mineral deficiencies as well as an irritated stomach. The nut does not want to be digested, it wants to sprout and grow into a plant in the right environment. The phytic acid is what stops digestion and why you might have noticed seeds and nuts sometimes go straight through your digestive system.
As well as phytic acid, nuts also contain goitrogens and enzyme inhibitors that compromise your body’s ability to digest. This can deplete your gut biome leading to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, heartburn, and bloating.
Soaking helps to neutralize the nuts’ natural defense mechanism and break down the phytic acid, allowing the nuts’ abundant nutrients to be released and absorbed by your body.
You’ll notice that soaked nuts taste different. There’s none of the bitterness that can be present, especially in high-fat nuts like walnuts.
How Should You Properly Soak Nuts?
Soaking nuts for greater digestibility is easy! Basically, you just need water and time.
Put the nuts in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover with warm water. Then add a little sea salt, one teaspoon of salt per cup of water works well. You can also choose to add an acid like lemon juice or vinegar to speed up the process—half a teaspoon for every cup of water is recommended.
Cover the glass or bowl with a clean cloth and soak for as long as the recipe calls for, usually between seven and 24 hours. It’s fine to leave the soaking nuts out on the counter or table at room temperature. They should not be put in the refrigerator.
Once you’ve soaked them for the allotted amount of time, drain and rinse off the salty water. They are now ready to use. Soaking also makes nuts and seeds ready for sprouting.
You can return the nuts to crispiness by putting them in a dehydrator or baking them in the oven on the lowest setting until they are completely dry.
The most popular nuts to soak include almonds, macadamias, pine nuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, and walnuts. As a general rule, the harder the nut, the longer they need to soak.
Nuts with the highest level of fat have the shortest soak times. For example, cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts need only 2 to 4 hours soak time.
Pecan, walnuts, and Brazil nuts should soak for around 6 to 8 hours.
Almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts are the hardest nuts and need at least 8 hours soaking time.
Cooking with Soaked Nuts
You can eat soaked and dried nuts straight away as a nutritious snack or part of a homemade trail mix. Dried soaked nuts can also be added to breads and cookies, or crushed to make crusts, coatings, or flours.
Rinsed nuts left undried, are ready to be made into homemade nut milks and butters, or added to your smoothies, desserts, soups, or stews. Because they are fully hydrated, they are easy to blend and add a silky, creamy texture to your drinks and dishes. Soaked nuts are also easier on your blender or food processor.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Soaking Nuts?
The only real disadvantage to soaking nuts is having to plan ahead. In terms of digestibility and nutrition, most nuts and seeds can only benefit from soaking. Chia and flax seeds quickly release a gel if soaked and should be consumed straight away.
You should be aware that if you or a friend or family member has an allergy to nuts, soaking will not make them safe.
Including soaked nuts in your diet will increase your nutrient intake and make eating them even tastier and healthier.
My family loves nuts that have been soaked and dehydrated into crispy deliciousness! We buy a lot of nuts for this reason. Our favorite place to stock up is Thrive Market, they have a large selection and the best prices! Check out their selection (and save $$) HERE. We also bulk buy from Azure Standard.
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