Nuts and seeds are undeniably little powerhouses, packed with essential fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals that are vital to our health. They’re pretty virtuous wee guys, right? Well, yes, nuts (and seeds) are awesome but cracking into their full nutritional goodness isn’t quite as easy as munching on a handful of roasted almonds. We have to actually trick Mother Nature into handing it over.
Have you ever randomly pondered why those pumpkin seeds you’ve squirreled away at the back of your pantry just never turn moldy or don’t eventually just turn outright pumpkin on you? You see, Nature is thoughtful, and has gifted nuts and seeds a special enzyme that inhibits their growth until it has all the things it needs to grow (sunlight, water, soil etc.) When it rains, the nut or seed gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. Basic science, I know, so how exactly does this relate to our consumption of the beloved nuts and seeds?
When we eat raw nuts and seeds, we also eat the enzyme inhibitors that prevent the seed from sprouting. This outer coating is a problem for us because it is made up of nutritional enzyme inhibitors and toxic substances. These enzymes inhibitors bind to our own enzymes and prevent them doing what they’re meant to do. When it comes to our absorption of nutrients, I’m going to break it down simply and just broadly refer to these as ‘digestive enzymes’ and ‘metabolic enzymes’. Digestive enzymes help break down food and metabolic enzymes help every biological process the body does.
Consuming those tough little enzyme inhibitors puts a strain on our digestive system, since they will prevent our own enzymes from breaking down the food in our digestive tracts, inhibiting absorption of precious vitamins and minerals. Luckily, Mother Nature evened the playing field by giving us humans the intelligence to find a way around this dilemma. Simply by soaking nuts and seeds in a little warm water and salt (salt helps activate beneficial enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors), you release these toxic enzyme inhibitors and unlock the full vitality contained within the nuts and seeds.
How to Soak your Nuts and Seeds:
- Many nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, actually taste better after they are soaked and rinsed, losing their bitterness associated with residues and tannins on their skins.
- Pour enough purified water over nuts or seeds to cover, and add ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Leave, covered, at room temperature for 4 hours (macadamias or cashews) or 12 hours (all other nuts and seeds).
- Drain in a colander. Rinse your nuts and seeds well. Never re-use the water that the nuts have been soaking in.
- Use immediately (eg. for nut butters, baking etc) or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If Dehydrating/Roasting your Nuts or Seeds:
- Nut purists would usually slowly-dry the nuts in a dehydrator or oven on the lowest possible setting for 24 hours to remove all moisture.
- I very rarely have time for this so I spread them onto a baking tray and place them in an oven on a low temperature and lightly roast them for about 1 hour. While heating can damage or destroys some of those good enzymes, you’re better off having slightly toasted nuts than un-soaked with ‘un-accessible’ nutrients!
If your recipe calls for soaked nuts or seeds and you are low on time, try to squeeze in 20 minutes or just do a really good job rinsing them. Otherwise, plan ahead a bit and soak them overnight in your refrigerator in a glass container with an airtight lid.
Live well, live long, live naturally
Simple Instructions on Sprouting and Soaking Nuts and Seeds
If you’ve started reading raw cookbooks, you’ve probably noticed that soaking nuts and seeds is a pretty common practice!
The main reason soaking nuts and seeds is so important is because they contain enzyme inhibitors.
The purpose of these enzyme inhibitors is to protect the nut or seed until it has what it needs for growing.
Nature allowed the inhibitors and toxic substances to be easily removed when the conditions (enough rain and sun) were met.
In nature, when it rains the nut gets enough moisture so it can germinate and produce a plant. The plant then continues to grow with the sunlight.
By soaking nuts and seeds, you release these toxic enzyme inhibitors AND increase the life and vitality contained within them!
- The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds
- Enzyme inhibitors get neutralized.
- The amount of vitamins your body can absorb increases.
- Phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of vital minerals, is reduced.
Soaking times vary with the nut. Generally the more dense the nut, the longer the soaking time. Ideally, soaking should be done at room temperature.Below is a soaking and sprouting chart. If you click on the nut or seed link, it will bring you to My Amazon Store. I tried to choose the nuts and/or seeds with the best reviews, free shipping, or both.
Feel free to browse the store by clicking on the category links. There are several different brands, quantities, and prices of each nut/seed to choose from.
Soaking and Sprouting Times
|Nut / Seed||Dry Amount||Soak Time||Sprout Time||Sprout Length||Yield|
|Alfalfa Seed||3 Tbsp||12 Hours||3-5 Days||1-2 Inches||4 Cups|
|Almonds||3 Cups||8-12 Hours||1-3 Days||1/8 Inch||4 Cups|
|Amaranth||1 Cup||3-5 Hours||2-3 Days||1/4 Inch||3 Cups|
|Barley, Hulless||1 Cup||6 Hours||12-24 Hours||1/4 Inch||2 Cups|
|Broccoli Seed||2 Tbsp||8 Hours||3-4 Days||1-2 Inches||2 Cups|
|Buckwheat, Hulled||1 Cup||6 Hours||1-2 Days||1/8-1/2 Inch||2 Cups|
|Cabbage Seed||1 Tbsp||4-6 Hours||4-5 Days||1-2 Inches||1 1/2 Cups|
|Cashews||3 Cups||2-3 Hours||4 Cups|
|Clover||3 Tbsp||5 Hours||4-6 Days||1-2 Inches||4 Cups|
|Fenugreek||4 Tbsp||6 Hours||2-5 Days||1-2 Inches||3 Cups|
|Flax Seeds||1 Cup||6 Hours||2 Cups|
|1 Cup||12-48 Hours||2-4 Days||1/2-1 Inch||4 Cups|
|Kale Seed||4 Tbsp||4-6 Hours||4-6 Days||3/4-1 Inch||3-4 Cups|
|Lentil||3/4 Cup||8 Hours||2-3 Days||1/2-1 Inch||4 Cups|
|Millet||1 Cup||5 Hours||12 Hours||1/16 Inch||3 Cups|
|Mung Beans||1/3 Cup||8 Hours||4-5 Days||1/4-3 Inches||4 Cups|
|Mustard Seed||3 Tbsp||5 Hours||3-5 Days||1/2-1 1/2 Inches||3 Cups|
|Oats, Hulled||1 Cup||8 Hours||1-2 Days||1/8 Inch||1 Cup|
|Onion Seed||1 Tbsp||4-6 Hours||4-5 Days||1-2 Inches||1 1/2-2 Cups|
|Pea||1 Cup||8 Hours||2-3 Days||1/2-1 Inch||3 Cups|
|Pinto Bean||1 Cup||12 Hours||3-4 Days||1/2-1 Inch||3-4 Cups|
|Pumpkin||1 Cup||6 Hours||1-2 Days||1/8 Inch||2 Cups|
|Quinoa||1 Cup||3-4 Hours||2-3 Days||1/2 Inch||3 Cups|
|Radish||3 Tbsp||6 Hours||3-5 Days||3/4-2 Inches||4 Cups|
|Rye||1 Cup||6-8 Hours||2-3 Days||1/2-3/4 Inch||3 Cups|
|1 Cup||8 Hours||1 1/2 Cups|
|1 Cup||4-6 Hours||1-2 Days||1/8 Inch||1 Cup|
|Spelt||1 Cup||6 Hours||1-2 Days||1/4 Inch||3 Cups|
|Sunflower, Hulled||1 Cup||6-8 Hours||1 Day||1/4-1/2 Inch||2 Cups|
|Teff||1 Cup||3-4 Hours||1-2 Days||1/8 Inch||3 Cups|
|Walnuts||3 Cups||4 Hours||4 Cups|
|Wheat||1 Cup||8-10 Hours||2-3 Days||1/4-3/4 Inch||3 Cups|
|Wild Rice||1 Cup||12 Hours||2-3 Days||Rice Splits||3 Cups|
- Gather your raw, organic nuts or seeds.
- Rinse them in purified or distilled water.
- Place them in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
- Cover with twice as much water as the nuts or seeds. (1 cup of nuts to 2 cups of water).
- Cover the bowl with something breathable like a cloth towel.
- Drain and rinse the nuts or seeds every 3 or 4 hours.
The soak water will contain the enzyme inhibitors which is very acidic to the body so make sure to rinse your nuts and seeds well.
- Follow the process above for soaking nuts and seeds.
- Place the soaked and rinsed nuts or seeds in a sprouting jar. You can get this online or at a health food store.
- Cover the jar with screening, cheesecloth, or sprouting lids.
- Put the jar face down, at an angle in a low light place. A dish rack or a high rimmed bowl works well because it allows the excess water to drain out.
- Rinse every 8 hours. To rinse: Fill jar with water. Shake vigorously. Drain. Repeat 2-3 times.
Make sure you drain the jar well. Seeds that sit in water can spoil the whole jar!
- Once sprouting begins, place in a sun lit area. Don’t place in direct sunlight though. Continue to rinse every 8 hours.
- Let the sprouts grow for the suggested number of days.
After the final rinse, let the sprouts dry completely! They should be dry to the touch. This is very important! Refrigerated produce dies quickly. The sprouts can then be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.