This simple process of soaking nuts and seeds makes them much more digestible for our bodies. A simple switch with a big payoff!
I feel like the dehydrator is constantly running in my house... is that normal?
That buzz coming from a back room? Yeah, it's the food dehydrator. I don't have room for it in my kitchen so it's back there in the office. That's just how much I love it for making healthy food with available nutrients, like sprouted wheat or soaked nuts. It's also super handy for other things like dehydrating fruit, making fruit leather, jerky, kale chips... yeah. If you don't have one, I highly encourage you to get one!! (This one is very similar to mine and has great reviews!)
I really love nuts and seeds. There are so many tasty things to be made with them! Nut milks, seed milks, nut butters, seed butter, nut flours, granola, granola bars, cookies, muffins, trail mix. You can also use them as a topping on oatmeal, yogurt or a dessert!
Oh yeah, and they are just great on their own for snacking too! I love eating them with fruit and a little bit of cheese for a well-rounded, filling snack. But did you know that to access their full health benefits, you need to soak them first?
Let me explain.
Why Soak Nuts and Seeds?
I first heard about this through the Nourishing Traditions blog and book, which explores how traditional cultures prepared their food and challenges what is commonly taught as "healthy" (worth the read!). In the book, there is a recipe for what they call "crispy nuts", which is essentially the process that I'm going to explain to you here.
Raw nuts and seeds are packed full of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats. But there's something in them that's keeping some of these good things from you. It's an anti-nutrient called PHYTIC ACID!
Anti-nutrients, or enzyme inhibitors, are substances that block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals in your body. So you eat the nuts and seeds, but you don't get everything out of them!
What's worse is that it not only keeps the nutrients in the food you're eating, phytic acid binds itself to other nutrients from other food in your gut!! Plain old thievery, if you ask me.
Phytic acid is there for a reason, not just to torment us! It protects the nut or seed from releasing nutrients until it's in the best environment to germinate. So we just have to provide that environment so it'll let its guard down!
Soaking nuts and seeds in saltwater neutralizes the phytic acid so your body can absorb and utilize their full nutritional value. This also makes it easier on the digestive system, resulting in more regularity and fewer upset stomachs.
If you don't have time or the desire to soak your own nuts, you can purchase "activated" nuts (soaked and dehydrated) at health food stores or online.
What To Soak Nuts In
As mentioned, you need to use sea salt in warm water for soaking nuts and seeds. This is different from soaking grains which requires lemon juice, vinegar or buttermilk.
Salt is necessary to fully neutralize the phytic acid. There would likely be some benefit to soaking in just water, but we're going for FULL benefits, right? Like, I want ALL the nutrients, please!
Can You Soak Nuts Too Long?
Yes. Obviously, if you soak something for days it will spoil.
Most nuts require at least 7 hours of soaking. It's especially important to note the nuts and seeds that require less soaking time. These are softer nut varieties and smaller seeds. If they are oversoaked they will become mushy and develop a strange taste. Refer to my guide below for appropriate soaking times.
Can You Soak Nuts and Seeds Together?
Because of the different sizes and densities of nuts and seeds, they all (mostly) require different soaking times and it would therefore be unwise to soak them in the same container. Also, if you want to keep them separately after soaking and drying, you obviously don't want to soak them together. It would be a pain to separate them.
Always soak separately, in my opinion. It's just less confusing.
Should You Soak All Nuts and Seeds?
Most nuts and seeds can and should be soaked, but there are a few exceptions.
Flax seeds and chia seeds gel when mixed with water, so soaking and dehydrating don't work with them. If using a flax or chia egg in a recipe, you could make the egg a few hours ahead of time with a bit of kefir or probiotic yogurt so it can soak before going into the recipe. These seeds are high in phytic acid, but I don't use them regularly so I'm not as familiar with the ways of reducing their phytic acid content.
Hemp seeds are high in phytic acid when unhulled, but I only ever see them sold hulled, so I haven't concerned myself with those either. If you have unhulled hemp seeds, they are very small so soak them for a maximum of 3 hours in saltwater.
Tools You May Need
How to Soak Nuts and Seeds
- RAW Nuts or seeds
- Sea salt (½ teaspoon for every cup of water)
- Warm filtered water (I use the Berkey water filter- read my review here)
The first step is to put your nuts in the jar or container and only fill up to halfway (you'll need the rest of the room for water!).
For every cup of nuts or seeds you want to soak, use 2 cups of filtered water. If you don't use enough, the nuts will absorb it all and no longer be soaking in it!
Use ½ teaspoon sea salt for every cup of water. Mix sea salt into water before pouring it into your nut or seed container. Fill your container almost full with saltwater so the nuts or seeds have enough water to soak in.
How Long to Soak Nuts and Seeds
Because every type of nut and seed is different in size, shape and density, they require different soaking and dehydrating times. For nuts the size of almonds, most should be soaked for 8 hours or overnight, see my chart below for details.
Seeds, which are smaller, should be soaked for less time, again depending on the seed. See my guide below for exact times.
Once soaking is complete, rinse well and drain. Never keep or use the soak water for anything. Discard it!
|Nut/Seed||Soaking Time||Dehydrating Time|
|Almond||8-12 hours||24 hours|
|Walnut||8 hours||12-24 hours|
|Hazelnut||8 hours||12-24 hours|
|Cashew||4 hours||12-24 hours|
|Pecan||6 hours||12-24 hours|
|Peanut||8 hours||12-24 hours|
|Brazil||8 hours||12-24 hours|
|Macadamia||8 hours||12-24 hours|
|Sunflower Seed||4 hours||12 hours|
|Pumpkin Seed||4 hours||12 hours|
|Pine Nut||4 hours||12 hours|
How to Dry Soaked Nuts and Seeds
Drying the nuts and seeds can be done in the dehydrator or oven.
Dehydrator - I recommend using the dehydrator if you have one, as it can be set to a very low temperature. If the nuts and seeds are dried below 115°F, they will still be considered raw and retain all their active enzymes. Going above 115°F will destroy some or all of the good enzymes present.
Spread the nuts or seeds out on the dehydrator trays, preferably in a single layer with some room for airflow around the nuts. I used to lay each nut out one by one to ensure there was space around it and it took SO long. Back then I didn't have any kids and just listened to podcasts while I did it. HA! Now I just throw them on the dehydrator sheet "spread them out" for a few seconds and to be honest, they are all still touching each other and they still dry in the dehydrator. So don't stress too much about that!
The nuts and seeds will take between 12 and 24 hours to fully dry (raw almonds definitely take around 24 hours, whereas sunflower seeds only seem to take about 12 hours). It depends on the type of nuts or seeds, the environment, your machine and how much is dehydrating in the machine at the time. Make sure they are FULLY dry or they will spoil after about 5 days. The test is simple- take a bite! If they are dry and crunchy, they are done.
Oven - Set your oven to the lowest temperature, spread the nuts and seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake until nuts are dry and crunchy, with the door slightly ajar. Just eat one to test and make sure it's dry. This will not retain all of the beneficial enzymes but will be better than roasting at high heat. Expect this to take at least 6 hours.
How to Store Nuts and Seeds
You may choose not to dry your nuts and that is totally fine! They will just be soggy and not dry and crunchy. Still totally okay to eat that way, just not quite as enjoyable in my opinion. Rinse and drain them and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also make nut milk right away- get that recipe here.
If you choose to dehydrate the nuts and seeds and are sure they are thoroughly dry and crisp, allow them to cool fully before storing. Properly dehydrated nuts should last at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 month, but you can extend the shelf life to up to 6 months if stored in the fridge.
Did you try this method and love it? I would so appreciate it if you let me know in the comments below!
Craving More Traditional Skills?
Proper Nut Preparation
- HOW TO MAKE ALMOND MILK
- CINNAMON AND HONEY ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
- HONEY ROASTED CASHEWS
- CHOCOLATE ALMOND MILK
MOre Traditional Food Preparation
- 4 cups raw nuts or seeds
- 4 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 cups warm filtered water
- Put nuts or seeds in glass jar or container.
- Mix sea salt into water before pouring it into your nut or seed container. Fill your container almost full with saltwater so the nuts or seeds have enough water to soak in.
- Soak for 4-12 hours, depending on the type of nut or seed. See chart above.
- Rinse and drain, discard soak water.
- You may choose not to dry your nuts and that is totally fine! They will just be soggy and not dry and crunchy. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- TO DRY: Spread in a single layer on dehydrator trays or cookie sheets. Dry in dehydrator at 115°F for 12-24 hours, or in the oven at lowest possible temperature for 6 hours+. Check for doneness by biting into one. If it's dry and crispy, it's done!
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month or in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Using organic nuts, high-quality sea salt and filtered water will yield the best, healthiest results.