Do you feel like you could never possibly soak and dehydrate your own nuts and seeds? Do you wonder why it is even important? I want to tell you two things:
- You can do it!
- It is important!
First, soaking and dehydrating your own nuts and seeds requires almost no effort. It does require time, but much less than you think. The time required is not you-working-hard time. It is just a tiny bit of time to get the nuts/seeds soaking, transfer them to the dehydrator, and then put them in a jar when they’re dried out.
Second, soaking nuts is important to do because as-is, nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors. God made them this way. Enzymes are unstable and therefore, He locked them up in the seed until such time as they are needed. The time they are needed is at germination and forward into the growth of the new plant. So that’s what you mimic in your kitchen through soaking – a germination. The water tells the seed it is time to soften up and get ready to grow, and voila! The enzyme inhibitors go away and the enzymes are now available for our use. (Though not a scientific explanation for this process, it is a summary of the effect of what happens.)
Dehydrating the nuts is optional. If you do it, your nuts will be raw and rich with enzymes – as long as the dehydrator is kept below 115 degrees F – and the nuts will be returned to the crispy state that so many recipes require. Not to mention that they taste and feel great when they’re crunchy.
According to Dr. Edward Howell in Enzyme Nutrition, germinated, raw nuts and seeds are an excellent source of digestive enzymes. Most people do not consume enough digestive enzymes. This means their bodies must produce these enzymes, but the human body cannot supply a limitless supply of any kind of enzymes. The more digestive enzymes we have to make, the less metabolic enzymes we can make. The metabolic enzymes run all the systems of our bodies. So you can see that if our bodies must manufacture digestive enzymes (which we could get from food) instead of metabolic enzymes, we would lack the necessary metabolic enzymes to keep our bodies functioning well. Dr. Howell claims that this is one of the reasons we tend toward modern diseases.
How to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts and Seeds
- Put 4 cups of any raw, organic nut or seed in a half gallon mason jar. Add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Fill with water to the top of the jar. Swirl the water around to dissolve the salt. (The salt is for taste and has no effect on whether the enzymes become available or not.)
- Let the nuts/seeds sit in the jar sit overnight, or for at least 7 hours.
- Drain the nuts/seeds. Rinsing is optional. Using a sprout screen with metal band really makes this easy. Remove skins, if desired.
- Spread the nuts/seeds in a single layer on a dehydrator tray. (See Resources for sources of quality dehydrators.)
- Dry at 95 to 100 degrees F until crispy. Check by taste – are they crunchy and free of moisture? This usually takes about 24 hours, depending on dehydrator and other conditions, etc.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the sun during sunny months. Set out a tray full of soaked nuts/seeds in sunlight. Keep it covered with a light cloth to keep out dust and bugs. Using an oven above 115 degrees F is a second-choice solution because it will kill the enzymes present in the nuts/seeds. (However, you will have nuts/seeds free of enzyme inhibitors due to the soaking and the cooking.)
Uses for Soaked and Dehydrated Nuts and Seeds
Anywhere you would use nuts, use these!
- Use them chopped in all recipes that call for nuts – but remember that if it is a cooked recipe, you’ll lose the enzyme benefit from the heat of cooking.
- Grind them into nut and seed butters.
- Snack on them – mix them with dried fruits for a trail mix.
- Add them into raw nut and fruit snacks, such as Amy’s raw date truffles or my homemade enzyme-rich Larabars.
- Eating raw, soaked and dehydrated nuts/seeds with a meal provides digestive enzymes to help the body digest that meal: sprinkle them chopped on a salad; sprinkle on your morning (soaked) porridge; or eat a couple of whole nuts alongside any meal.
I keep quart size jars full of various nuts and seeds ready to go in my pantry cupboard.
Is a Dehydrator Really Necessary?
Yes, and no. You can always soak your nuts and use them that way. Being able to dehydrate them returns them to the crispy state that is called for in most recipes. So, a dehydrator of some sort is essential if you want your nuts/seeds crispy while keeping the enzyme benefits of raw, germinated nuts. (But remember if you use the raw, germinated nuts in a cooked recipe, the enzymes will perish from the heat of cooking.) You can get around having a dehydrator if you live in a sunny area where you can dry nuts/seeds outdoors year round or can build a solar dehydrator.
Unfortunately, a quality dehydrator costs more than loose change. It isn’t as expensive as you might think, though, and a dehydrator is one of those kitchen tools with many, many healthy applications. So if you don’t have one now, put it on your wish list and pray about it. I’m happy to say that I’m getting an Excalibur dehydrator (perhaps today, via UPS) as my birthday and Christmas gift. I’ve been nursing an el-cheapo dehydrator for some years. It has gotten me by and I’m thankful for what it has done for us! But still, I’m looking forward to not having to worry about whether el-cheapo is going to die mid-cycle.
What about you? How do you use raw nuts and seeds? If you haven’t already, are you willing to try soaking and dehydrating your nuts and seeds?
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, this week hosted by Cheeseslave.