Did you know that those healthful nuts and seeds could be wreaking havoc on your digestion? It is true, nuts and seeds along with grains and legumes contain natural toxic inhibitors to ensure their survival until germination. Nature has made them indigestible in their dry form. Soaking removes the inhibitors and makes them more digestible allowing your body to utilize more vital nutrients contained within.
Benefits of soaking nuts and seeds:
- Increases enzyme activity
- Better absorption of the nutrients by the body
- Increased digestibility
- Soaked nuts and seeds will begin the sprouting process which increases their nutrient value
- Improves flavor, especially with walnuts as the tannins, dust and residues are rinsed away
Most unsoaked or raw nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances. Nature has intended the dry nut and seed to be protected by enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances until perfect growing conditions are in place. When there is enough rain and sun, this sets the stage for the nut/seed to literally come alive. When soaking nuts and seeds, we mimic nature.
Another important reason to soak nuts is that the soaking process will help remove the dust, residue and tannins from the skins. You'll notice that soaked walnuts do not have that astringent taste to them. This is because when soaking walnuts, the tannins are rinsed away, leaving behind a softer, tastier nut.
Nuts should only be soaked after they are removed from their shells. You'll notice that nuts without skins such as macadamias, cashews or Brazil nuts don't have as much of the murky water residue, but soaking is still recommended for ease in blending and for nutritional purposes.
Recommended soaking time for nuts and seeds:
Soaking nuts and seeds can take anywhere from 20 minutes, to 2 to 3 hours, even overnight in the refrigerator. Harder nuts will take longer to soften. If your recipe calls for soaked nuts or seeds and you are short on time, you can soak for 20 minutes or at the very least rinse them. Otherwise, plan ahead and soak or sprout them according the the chart below.
Soaking nuts in plastic is not recommended as plastic can leach into the water and into your food. Some folks keep a variety of nuts and seeds soaking in their refrigerators at all times to have handy. If you do this, be sure to change the soak water every couple of days to prevent spoiling.
Note: the soak water from nuts and seeds should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe. Also, be sure the water you are using is purified or distilled.
Here is a helpful soaking and sprouting infographic for nuts and seeds as well as grains and legumes. Click the image to see an enlarged version: