How and Why to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts and Seeds

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How and Why to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts and Seeds | 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: 1) You can do it! and 2) It is important! | GNOWFGLINS.com

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:

  1. You can do it!
  2. 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.

Read more about this in Dr. Howell’s book; and in these posts: here, here, and here. Also see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell.

soaked-pumpkin-seeds

How to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts and Seeds

  1. 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.)
  2. Let the nuts/seeds sit in the jar sit overnight, or for at least 7 hours.
  3. Drain the nuts/seeds. Rinsing is optional. Using a sprout screen with metal band really makes this easy. Remove skins, if desired.
  4. Spread the nuts/seeds in a single layer on a dehydrator tray. (See Resources for sources of quality dehydrators.)
  5. 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.)
date-truffles

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?

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Comments

  1. says

    My first attempts at soaking nuts a couple of years ago were a failure, so I gave it up – I didn’t have a dehydrator and the lowest setting on my oven was 200 degrees, so they ended up overdone. Yuck! I couldn’t understand why people said the ‘crispy nuts’ in NT were so good. Then a year later, I decided to try again. By that time, I had aquired my Excalibur (LOVE it!) and now it’s a totally different experience. So quick and easy!

    The kids noticed that the nuts are tastier when soaked and dried – it takes away a bitter taste that nuts have (which I never noticed until eating them prepared properly).

    I routinely soak all of our nuts – last week I did twelve cups of almonds, this week I did twelve cups of cashews (with nine kids, I have to prepare large amounts :)). We use them to bake and cook with, as well as to snack on.

    Btw, Wardee, I bought my Excalibur on ebay – it was a reconditioned unit with a ten year warranty, shipping included, for $150. Reconditioned doesn’t mean it was used – it wasn’t. (I posted about it when I got it last October – http://oceansofjoy.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/my-newest-kitchen-appliance/) It doesn’t have the timer, but that’s worked out fine for us. Now I use this for so many things that I can’t imagine not having it!
    .-= Avivah @ Oceans of Joy´s last blog post… Mock Larabars (grain free) =-.

  2. says

    Diana – I hope you get one! You need a dehydrator and I need a garden. ;) Then we’d both be set.

    Avivah – That is a great deal! I did get a deal on mine, but not quite as good as yours. Mine was a brand-new customer return and it was discounted quite a bit (and included the warranty). You have 9 kids! I agree that the crispy nuts taste so much better than raw.

  3. says

    I regularly snack on raw nuts to help with my blood sugar, so this is a very interesting post. My oven *seems* to run at 100 degrees, although I’d like to confirm that’s really what it’s doing by getting an oven thermometer. It’s just warm to the touch though – seems like a good sign! I’ll have to try this out. :)
    .-= sara kay´s last blog post… Thankful =-.

    • says

      Sara Kay – That’s great that your oven may hold such a low temp. If only every oven did this – but then again, how could we bake if we were always using our ovens as dehydrators? ;)

  4. says

    I love this very simple and effective explanation about the why behind the how. I think that is so important – educating others is really how to make a change.

    Kitchen appliances – I just got a VitaMix and LOVE it. They had them at Costco for a significant discount so my husband put it in the cart. :)
    The food dehydrator is on the list. Hopefully next. I’ve been talking about it forever so maybe I’ll get it for my upcoming b-day. I have to giggle at your el-cheapo. I understand how important having quality kitchen appliances is – even if it means you have to wait and save up. Needless to say, I can’t wait to dehydrate my own nuts and seeds.

    Thanks for linking to my truffles, too.

  5. Faith says

    Yum! Ever since I tried nuts soaked with sea salt and dehydrated, I’ve been hooked. They are so delicious. The taste alone makes me want to eat nuts this way, but thanks for reminding me of all the nutritional benefits too.

    Right now I’m making chili lime flavored almonds in the dehydrator and soaking almonds for a maple sugar recipe that will also be dehydrated (we just got 50 lbs of raw organic almonds so we are going all out on almond recipes!). I also love making raw vanilla cream from cashews soaked in unsalted water and not dehydrated.

    I’ve been very happy using a dehydrator I got for about $30, it’s lasted me for about 5 years and still going strong. I’m only limited a bit in presentation of what I make, not quality. Mine is donut shaped so I can’t do large pizza crusts or “meat”loafs. But it still tastes great in smaller portions. I think the most important thing is to find a dehydrator with a temp control that goes as low as you want, mine goes down to 90 degrees.

  6. says

    This is a great post Wardee! I haven’t been a very good soaker of nuts and seeds, we normally eat them raw, but it’s a good reminder of why I SHOULD start doing so! Maybe I can borrow my mom’s dehydrator . . . :)

    Best,
    Sarah
    .-= Sarah´s last blog post… Coconut Macaroons =-.

  7. tina says

    I asked this before at Nourishing Gourmet but I wanted to know where everyone gets their nuts. Almonds are pastuerized unless you get them directly from the farm via mail. Even the almonds that say raw aren’t raw.

    I thought I’d get nuts in their shell (they can’t be pastuerized in their shells, can they?) But then I thought after I got all the nuts from their shells I’d still have the skins on them. Do you all soak nuts with skins on them?

    I’ve conquered a lot with the Nourishing Traditions but for the love of God, I cannot crack the nut thing.

  8. Martha Bisharat says

    Would you mind listing the various nuts which soak and dehydrate well? On hand I have raw almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts and pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds? Will each of these do well? I know there are many other nuts though. Great post, Wardee, and comments.

    • says

      Mom (Martha) – In Nourishing Traditions, these are the nuts/seeds that have “recipes” for making them crispy (soaking/dehydrating): pumpkin seeds, pecans, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, filberts (hazelnuts) and walnuts. Cashews are also mentioned, but they’re a special case. We can’t get raw cashews, so there’s no enzymes to save anyway. They shouldn’t be soaked longer than 6 hours or they’ll get slimy. Sally Fallon Morell recommends soaking them in salt water and then lightly toasting them.

      And one other thing: storage. Almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts and peanuts are pretty stable, and once soaked and dehydrated may be stored at room temp in an airtight container. Walnuts are more susceptible to rancidity and should be stored in the fridge or freezer.

      Sara B – I haven’t make those raw flax crackers, but was just eyeing a recipe yesterday. I was wondering how to soak the flax seeds first because they get so gelatinous. I’d love to hear what you recipe asks you to do. With the Excalibur, the directions say to do crackers on the Paraflexx sheets (or parchment paper) and “flip” them halfway through the dehydrating. This is when the crackers peel off easily, not when they’re still sticking to the parchment paper/plastic sheet.

  9. Sara B says

    I now have my mom’s old style dehydrator, so I should give this a try! I would love to have an Excalibur, but a Vitamix is on my list first.

    Speaking of dehydrators, has anyone had success with making those raw flax crackers in their older dehydrators? I have the solid piece that you insert for fruit leathers etc… Would I use that?

  10. Cindy says

    Does anyone know if the raw brazil nuts you get at the health food store can be sprouted and dehydrated? Love brazil nuts, they’re supposed to be one of the richest sources of selenium. Also once a nut has been shelled (we buy them shelled) how do they sprout since they’re not a whole nut anymore (thinking of pecans, walnuts in particular).

  11. Faith says

    Cindy- It’s quite difficult to actually sprout any nut besides almonds from what I’ve heard. I have not tried it. But they can be soaked to activate germination. I love brazil nuts particularly in a nut milk drink and you are right, they are so nutritious.

    They are one of the things I am very happy to buy non-local as they are one of the only Amazon crops which must be grown wild in the rainforest, thus you are helping to preserve the rainforest when you support brazil nut harvesters!

  12. says

    Susan – that’s a great question. I hope someone will answer. I’m asking your question on facebook and twitter – hope we’ll get a response from someone who’s done this.

  13. says

    I’m wondering why the convection would make a big difference — I have the option for convection on my oven, but it still won’t set below 180º, and in my experience convection runs a little hotter than conventional settings (so the lowest temp on my oven probably runs closer to 200º).

    It would be great to know if there were a way to make it work without killing enzymes, though — I’m still dehydrator-free!

  14. says

    I’ve been using my oven to dehydrate. It has both a convection setting and a regular setting. I usually use the regular setting because the convection fan is a bit noisy. The oven has a digital display that will accept any temp I put into it, but at this point I have no idea if it actually heats to that temp. If I set it to 110 though, it gets hot but not hot enough to burn my hand, so I suspect it’s working. I have done nuts and grains in it, seemingly successfully, but it probably really depends on the oven. Hope that helps…

  15. Sabrina says

    hi. I just finished soaking and drying cashews but I feel as though something went wrong. I used raw cashews, soaked in salted water for about 5 hours, rinsed, and placed on 2 cookies sheets lined with foil in my toaster oven on 200 degrees for about 13 hours. I stirred about 3 to 4 times throughout. They are wonderfully crispy and don’t smell bad to me, but they seems to have roasted. When you bite it in half the inside is brownish color and the outside has a gray brown type color. Did I over cook? What are they suppose to look like? Are cashews this sensitive? I’m feeling like I should throw them out. My husband is concerned. He thinks we heated them up too much/high and now the oils inside the nuts are rancid and unhealthy (inflammatory). Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

  16. Kirsten says

    I have several sugar pumpkins I am making pumpkin soup with tonight and would love to do something with the seeds. I have soaked and dehydrated nuts and seeds according to NT for over 2 years, but have never dealt with fresh seeds. Should I air-dry them then soak and dehydrate. Or just soak the fresh seeds and dehydrate? :)

    Just FYI- your site is priceless and precious to our family! Every bit of it! ?

  17. Kathy says

    I got an Excalibur dehydrator for Christmas and want to try dehydrating nuts. However, I’ve read two different ways to store them afterward. One says they have to be stored in the fridge after dehydrating because of the fat content, but others (like yours) say store in the cupboard. Could you clarify this for me.
    Thanks

  18. says

    Kathy — This is what I know (I’m quoting from Fundamentals eCourse materials):

    Once soaked and dehydrated, almonds, pecans, cashews, macadamia nuts and peanuts are fairly stable. Like this, they may be stored at room temperature for many months in an airtight container. Other soaked seeds and nuts, such as walnuts or pumpkin seeds, are more susceptible to rancidity and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

    I hope this helps!

  19. gramycarol says

    Can you please give me more details on how long flax seeds should be soaked?
    I googled soaking flax seeds and all the info I found on it said to soak them at least 6 hours, and then keep the resulting gelatinous mixture in the refrigerator. Would you suggest soaking for 3 minutes then straining and drying the seeds? Thank you.

    • says

      gramycarol — Actually, with flax seeds I prefer to lay them on a paper towel and mist with water. Repeat that every 12 hours. That really helps cut down on the whole gelatinous thing. :)

  20. gramycarol says

    Thank you for your quick reply! So, I put them on paper towels and then mist them every 12 hours for how long? Or mist them several times within 12 hours?

    • says

      You mist every 12 hours. How much depends. Get them pretty wet each time. When they get big enough you can pull them off the paper towel and rinse them off. You’ll have to play it by ear how much to mist.

  21. gramycarol says

    Thank you, I will try misting some right now. I am totally new to soaking nuts and grains and I greatly appreciate your help. I just realized I need to buy a new spray bottle and use well water.

  22. Susan says

    Can you tell me more about drying nuts below 115 degrees F? Where is the source that you found this information? I thought it was 118 when enzymes get destroyed, but can’t remember if that is wet heat. Nourishing Traditions says dry nuts below 150, but I can’t remember why or if that is for dry heat. Any thoughts?

    I’m mostly asking because I don’t know if I can quite afford a dehydrator just yet. I found a source of soaked and dried nuts, but the company said they dry them below 118. So reading your article is the first I have heard about the threshold being lower at 115. I would like to know the reasoning for this and a source if possible.

    • says

      Susan — I have read several sources and because the range is 115 to 118 depending on who you ask, I prefer to play it safe and stay below 115.

  23. Mariah Ward says

    Hi,

    What kind of Nuts should I buy? Do I have to buy raw nuts since I am taking them back to their natural state? I just bought some ‘raw peanuts’ to make peanut butter with. I don’t know if they are really raw because I don’t think you can buy true raw nuts from within the USA. I know you can order nuts from Spain but these are raw Virginia peanuts. Plus, my raw nuts have to be kept cold which I find very odd.

  24. Lisa says

    I’ve read a lot about soaking nuts but every recipe I’ve seen says to soak them in salt. I personally don’t care for salty nuts and really enjoy them plain. Is there a way to get the health/nutrition benefits from soaking them without using the salt? I’m curious that it could be possible because of your statement that “The salt is for taste and has no effect on whether the enzymes become available or not”. The salty taste is the only thing preventing me from soaking and dehydrating my nuts currently. I have a nice dehydrator that I bought for this purpose, but then tasted some soaked nuts that my sister-in-law made and was really turned off by the saltyness.

  25. Andrea says

    Wardee, what do you do if you over-soak your nuts and seeds? Will I need to start over or is there another factor I can consider (like smell)?

  26. Craig says

    I just dried some almonds overnight in the oven. A good bit of them have black spots on them. Do you know what would cause this? Is that mold?

  27. says

    Hi there I just found out that soaking nuts and dehydrating them was healthier, however I do not have a dehydrator. My oven only goes as low as 150 degrees, if I kept the oven door open will that lower the temp, or is that just too high? Thanks.

    • says

      Becky — That high and the enzymes will die, but the soaking still solves the phytic acid problem. So you’re much better off anyway. :)

  28. Andrea Shef says

    Two Questions:
    1. I’m assuming this includes sesame seeds too? do you still soak and dehydrate those too?
    2. In order to keep the enzymes in the nuts, it can’t get above 115 F? Is that right? That is lower than I thought…

  29. Kirsten says

    Is it ok to do unsalted water? I am low on salt till tomorrow and soaked a bunch of peanuts 24 hours for roasted peanut butter. Hoping just a sprinkle while they roast is ok?

  30. Rachelle says

    Hello, thank you for this, it’s very informative! I’m wondering, if I am baking with nuts and grains, does it make sense to do the whole process of soaking, dehydrating, grinding, baking? This is what I’ve been doing and i read now that the enzymes will be killed when the bread/waffle/cracker etc. is cooked at high heats. Is there any reason for me to do this whole process then, or should I just grind my nuts/grains and bake away, leaving out all the other processes?

    • says

      Rachelle — That’s a good question. :) If your baking steps include soaking, then no, you don’t need to do it beforehand. Yes, baking will destroy enzymes anyway, but the purpose of soaking nuts/seeds/grains is to reduce anti-nutrients such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Dehydrating at low temperatures preserves enzymes but if you’re going to cook with heat, you may as well skip that.

    • says

      Tanja, no not really. It usually has dust and debris from the nuts and most people choose to discard it. If you rinsed the nuts really well before soaking you could use this soaking water in cooking or something. But keep in mind the salt content. :)

  31. Tanya says

    Any chance I can dehydrate in the stove / toaster oven? I cant afford a dehyrdator – even a cheapo one at the moment. Can you do it in the stove with just the light on [use that to make coconut yoghurt] overnight and get fairly warm – but no air ventilation like a dehydrator machine

    • says

      You’d need to put it on the lowest temp (preferably 200 or less), crack the door, and check frequently. They’ll dry a lot faster and can burn quickly. Just with the light on is probably not warm enough.

  32. Nancy says

    Unfortunately, the only place we had to put the large Excalibur is our basement. So it’s cold and a bit humid down there. I do dry my nuts at around 100 degrees, but it takes at least 48 hours due to the location. I’ve only done walnuts, almonds, and cashews so far. The walnuts take at least 48 hours, the almonds and cashews take at least 3 full days. I have to plan wayyyyy ahead when to make nuts!

  33. says

    I have a large pecan tree in my back yard and every year it produces lots of pecans which the birds just love. While they are up in the tree, they knock some down. So I have taken to picking them up. Some are covered with the green husk and others aren’t. What is the simplest way to prepare them for human consumption? Can I soak them with the husk on and for how long? After the soak, how long do I have to dry them out and what is the process? I am very new to this so I absolutely know nothing about this. Can you give me some hints?

  34. Lisa says

    I didn’t read every post here but I just wanted to add that if you don’t have a dehydrator you should check out yard sales. I got one for $10 right across the street from my house. Loving it!

  35. Kristina says

    Is it true that almonds can’t be bought raw anymore? If this is true, is soaking them a waste of my time? I get raw almonds from Trader Joe’s, but I’ve read that it is not possible to buy truly raw almonds. Also, should pine nuts be soaked? I’ve read in some places that they should, and it other places that they shouldn’t. All of this info is confusing me!
    Thanks for this great blog! I love reading it.

  36. Mindy says

    Is it OK to add other things to the salt brine for added flavors – such as herbs, spices? Or would these affect the breaking down of phytic acids & enzyme prohibitors?

    • says

      Hi Theresa,

      You don’t need to soak Chia seeds unless you want to make Chia seed gel which is a great thickener.

      Millie
      GNOWFGLINS Support Team

  37. Joy says

    I’ve been soaking and drying nuts for about 14 years, when I was introduced to the Weston Price Foundation. They are soooo delicious that way! Where I currently live, the lowest oven temp. is 200 degrees, so this is what I do: I put the cookie sheet of nuts in the oven and turn on the oven at 200 for 5 minutes. Then I let them sit in the oven, which retains a mild warmth, for two hours. Then I turn it on again for another 5 minutes. I repeat this cycle until they’re dry (usually takes less than 12 hours). I figure that in five minutes the oven has barely reached 200 degrees and then it goes off, so hopefully minimal damage done to the enzymes. If you have an older gas oven with a pilot light, just leave the pilot light on and leave the nuts overnight. Works well too.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] list) and soaked nuts. Soaking the grains neutralizes phytic acid, a mineral absorption blocker. Soaking the nuts starts the process of  germination, de-activating enzyme inhibitors. A raw granola that does this [...]

  2. […] inhibitors, which make it difficult to digest them or absorb the nutrients contained within. So, it’s important to soak them before use. The soaking helps activate the nut and removes the enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest […]

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