Raw nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are an amazing nutrient-dense snack but like grains and legumes, they also contain substances that interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Raw nuts and seeds have notable phytic acid, a form of bound Phosphorus, which is a protectant and antioxidant for the plants.
The phytic acid is useful to safeguard the seeds until germination but when eaten by humans, it binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and causes irritation and nutrient deficiencies.
Animals produce enzyme Phytase to breakdown the phytic acid but humans do not.
How does soaking the nuts help?
The phytates and enzyme inhibitors present in the nuts and seeds can be neutralised by soaking in salt water and dehydrating them at low temperature. This helps to breakdown much of the phytic acid and make the nutrients in nuts more available to the body.
Within 8-24 hours of soaking (depending on the seed and nut), many of the enzyme inhibitors are broken down.
Do not soak flax and chia seeds as they turn into a mucilaginous gel.
Peanuts, though not a nut, should also be soaked and consumed.
Many traditional cultures naturally soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds. This seems to be lost in today’s generation of large scale production and the convenience of packaged foods.
How to soak nuts and seeds?
Measure your nuts and seeds into a large bowl.
Cover with filtered water so that they are submerged. Add salt to it.
Soak them for a minimum of 8 hours.
Rinse the nuts and seeds well to remove the residue.
Spread them on the rack of the dehydrator.
Dehydrate at 115-135F for about 12-24 hours or until nuts are crispy.
What’s wrong with Roasted Nuts?
Roasted nuts are not the same as soaked and dehydrated nuts.
Nuts are nutrient dense and exposing them to high temperatures, oxidises and makes them rancid. It also reduces the concentration of several B group vitamins as they are not heat stable.
Commercially roasted nuts are exposed to very high temperatures that denature the nutrients and cause the breakdown of fats. Besides being roasted, you will also have to deal with additives likes salt, maltodextrin (found in honey roasted nuts), sweetening agents and MSG too.
What if you don’t have a dehydrator?
Soaked nuts can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. They can however be stored in the deep freezer for a longer period.
If you have to store them at room temperature, they have to be dehydrated.
Whilst 150F is the maximum heat that can be applied to retain them as raw, I like to dehydrate them at 115F. The lower the temperature, the larger the amount of natural enzymes and unsaturated fatty acids are preserved.
While dehydrators are ideal for this process, they can be expensive too. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you may consider using the oven at the lowest setting.
Remember the times when our earlier generation used solar energy for dehydrating? If you live in a country where sunlight is available in plenty, you may place the soaked nuts and seeds under the bright sun (of course covered with muslin or a thin sheet of cloth). The only downside to this is the varying temperatures the nuts are exposed to when the sun sets which could be a potential cause of mould growth.
Plain and simple, if you enjoy eating soaked nuts, just go for it. One less appliance in the kitchen...
Which brand of Dehydrator do you use?
Personally, I have been using the Sedona 9 tray dehydrator. I had a choice between the Excalibur and Sedona but i chose the latter as it has a see through glass. Rest of the features were exactly the same.
Recent models do come with stainless steel trays since there has been a concern over plastic trays these days. Nevertheless, the plastic used in heavy duty dehydrators are BPA free.
You may check out the link https://dehydratorblog.com/ which covers all topics related to dehydrating.
Soaked and dehydrated nuts, though time consuming, is worth the taste and nutritional benefits it offers.