A step by step tutorial for soaking nuts and how to soak and dehydrate them. It's so important to know where our food comes from and how we should go about processing it for maximum health benefits. let me show you how to do exactly that.
Recently a friend asked me exactly how I soak and dehydrate nuts. She had read about phytic acid and the importance of properly prepared grains and nuts but just didn't know how to do it! So, I thought maybe some others would like a step by step tutorial.
But, before I get to the nitty-gritty of the how-to's, let's review a bit.
You probably already know how important it is to properly prepare your grains and nuts, but if not, see Grain Preparation for more information.
Do you remember what phytic acid is and what it does?
Phytic acid is present in the bran of all grains and the hulls of nuts and seeds. Phytic acid inhibits absorption of minerals - especially calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc - in the body. According to Wikipedia:
In-home food preparation techniques can reduce the phytic acid in all of these foods ... effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.
Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient. It prevents your body from absorbing minerals and binds with them to make them unavailable to the body for use.
Sprouting or soaking nuts and grains overnight is a very easy way to properly prepare them. When you hear the word, "sprouting", if you are like me, you think of the little sprout that comes out of the seed or nut after it is soaked and left for 1 to 3 days. Soaking overnight also sprouts the nuts but the little sprout is microscopicly small.
Proper preparation of soaking nuts and grains neutralizes the phytic acid making them more easily digested plus increases the nutritional value!
The following tutorial for soaking nuts is based on the Crispy Nuts recipe found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook written by Sally Fallon. I think this cookbook is a must for every REAL food kitchen. If you don't have it yet, you are in for a treat!
Learning about soaking nuts and dehydrating nuts is an easy way to properly prepare them so as to neutralize phytic acid and make them more digestible. Crispy Nuts is a great start to delicious homemade trail mix - my children love it!
After all, we have to keep in mind that this process is not new. Far from it, in fact.
The truth is, the old traditional ways actually had purpose behind them and the new, more convenient modern methods may be harming our bodies!
Take, for example, grain preparation. As early as 1200 – 1500 BC the people in Guatemala soaked corn, a process called Nixtamalization. According to Wikipedia:
Nixtamalization typically refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled. Maize subjected to the nixtamalization process has several benefits over unprocessed grain for food preparation: it is more easily ground; its nutritional value is increased; flavor and aroma are improved; and mycotoxins are reduced.
Corn is not the only grain that has been soaked throughout history. Soaking grain allows the grain to sprout. The vitamin and enzyme content of sprouted grains increases dramatically plus, the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. Also known a germinating, sprouting has been done for centuries. The Chinese sprouted beans for ocean voyages. Injera is a national dish in Ethiopia and Eritrea and according to Wikipedia is made by soaking teff flour in water and allowing it to ferment for several days before baking the large pancakes. Injera has a sourdough like taste which brings me to the soudough process. Did you know that before the 19th century and the identification of yeasts, all yeast-leavened breads were sourdough?
According to Wikipedia:
The leavening process was not understood until the 19th century, when yeast was first identified. Since then, strains of Saccaromyces cerevisiae have been bred for their reliability and speed of leavening and sold as “baker’s yeast”. Baker’s yeast was adopted for the simpicity and flexibility it introduced to bread making, obviating the lengthy cultivation of a sourdough starter.
Another point of interest is that due to modern farming techniques, grains no longer germinate as they once did in sheaves and stacks in the field.
In the hustle and bustle of modern life, we've lost the value of real food preparation. And we've lost so many of the health benefits that come from eating "old" food. In the attempt to have foods that could last long journeys and feed ever-greater numbers of people, we accidentally created food that isn't really food. They're food products. We've largely forgotten what it's like to make real food.
In my post all about grain preparation, I go into the importance of soaking and sprouting with a bit more detail. I recommend you go over and read the whole thing! It's so important to know where our food comes from and how we should go about processing it for maximum health benefits.
And now, let me show you how I soak and dehydrate nuts!
Soaking Nuts And How To Dehydrate Them
Mix the nuts, salt and water and leave overnight to soak.
In the morning, drain the water from the nuts. I don't rinse them - they are good with a hint of saltiness.
Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet.
Place in a warm oven - 170F for 12 - 24 hours - My oven only goes down to 170F but if I am using the dehydrator, I set it to 150F. Stir occasionally (if you think about it) until the nuts are completely dry and crisp. Make sure to dry the nuts completely or they may mold if kept over 2 weeks.
Store in an airtight container.
* Cashews take a bit more care because even if they are "raw", they have already been heated twice during processing. Do not soak cashews too long or dry them out too slowly - they develop a bad taste. For cashews, soak in salt water for 12 hours and dry in an oven set to 200F.
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How to Soak and Dehydrate Nuts
- 4 c. raw nuts - almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp sea salt
- Mix the nuts, salt and water and leave overnight to soak.
- In the morning, drain the water from the nuts. I don't rinse them - they are good with a hint of saltiness.
- Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet.
- Place in a warm oven - 170F for 12 - 24 hours - My oven only goes down to 170F but if I am using the dehydrator, I set it to 150F.
- Stir occasionally (if you think about it) until the nuts are completely dry and crisp. Make sure to dry the nuts completely or they may mold if kept over 2 weeks.
- Store in an airtight container.
- Cashews take a bit more care because even if they are "raw", they have already been heated twice during processing. Do not soak cashews too long or dry them out too slowly - they develop a bad taste. For cashews, soak in salt water for 12 hours and dry in an oven set to 200F.