WHY YOU WANT TO SOAK AND DEHYDRATE NUTS:
Soaking and dehydrating nuts is EASY and it makes them more digestible since anti-nutrients are neutralized and enzyme inhibitors are eliminated. If you are like many of my clients, you have no clue what the significance is of what I just said. So another way of saying this is, unless you soak nuts, you will block mineral uptake, and this totally defeats the purpose of trying to eat nuts for nutrient density.
A surprising plus of proper nut preparation is that the process takes out the bitterness in taste making nuts taste incredibly sweet and delicious, which is what they are supposed to taste like. I’d soak and dehydrate nuts solely for this culinary taste improvement truth be told. Clients do too after they sample them. I am always amazed to see what the filtered water looks like after a soak. Someday I’ll do a lab analysis, and we’ll learn what actually is in that yuck. One thing I do know, nuts blow up in size by the end of the soaking period leaving no doubt that they have absorbed the salt soaking medium:
Those following PALEO/SCD/GAPS/AIP – to soak or not:
Elaine says it is not necessary. See the post from the Official Website for Breaking the Vicious Cycle and Specific Carbohydrate Diet, NUTS – BLANCHED OR UNBLANCHED: Elaine Gottschall, author of Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet: “For lots of information on nuts and the very beneficial effects of almonds see Going Nuts! (article is posted at time 1/7/06 11:28 AM) by Stephen Byrnes, PhD. Update: I found the article posted on this Men’s Health Forum under “Nuts?????”. However he suggests soaking nuts which I do not believe is necessary. I believe that the almond nut flour we use is perfectly fine and has proven to be tolerated very nicely bringing thousands back to health without the soaking process which complicates life to no end.”
Byrnes, in Going Nuts! says to soak: “All nuts should be purchased raw and unsalted from stores that rotate their stock fairly quickly. Canned, salted, or packaged roasted nuts are not appropriate due to processing. You can purchase raw nuts of all types at any good whole foods market. Raw nuts are desired for their high enzyme content… [but] nuts have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors and phytates that should be broken down before consuming them. How does one do this? By soaking the nuts in salted water for 6-8 hours [except cashews which soak for no longer than 6 hours]. After this time, one will drain out the water, place the nuts on a cookie sheet, and dry them on low heat in the oven. Nuts prepared this way have been “predigested” by soaking and will give quick energy and a full gamut of nutrients. These “Crispy Nuts” are excellent snack foods, particularly for athletes or for those with hypoglycemia.”
Interpretations can vary, but Elaine said soaking isn’t needed since SCD uses almond flour. SCD uses blanched skinless almond flour which by default, would be subjected to a soak in order to remove the skin. Some interpret Elaine’s comment to additionally mean that whole nuts do not need soaked. Perhaps the greatest argument for soaking whole nuts for PALEO/SCD/GAPS beyond neutralizing anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors, is due to the fact that whole nuts are considered an advanced food:
Introduction guidance at The Stages of SCD notes: “In BTVC, Elaine cautioned against using homemade nut milks before 3 months into the diet so that people would not use too much of the same nuts. If nut milk and nuts butter and/or flours are not used in excess and are balanced with other foods, then the nut milks can be cautiously added after the intro diet. The nut milk should have all pulp/fiber removed; it should be diluted and the total amount of one type of nut should be balanced with other foods/food groups.” In the article’s table, nut milks are introduced after intro at Stage 1, nut butters are introduced at Stage 2, and nut flours are introduced at Stages 3 & 4. Nut pieces are introduced at Stage 4 while whole nuts are introduced last, at Stage 5.
If you try unsoaked whole nuts and have issues, try soaking them. Many find properly prepared nuts to be much more easily tolerated/digested and the process, not at all difficult once learned as many other things are when learning how to practically eat a whole foods diet. Nut soak/dehydrate recipe directions are below and are posted on my “WAPF Soaked Nut/Grain” Pinterest board.
Below the recipe find “nuts and bolts” type information based on commonly asked questions at workshop demonstrations addressing: Why use sea salt and not table salt for the soaking medium (increasing mineral uptake and table salt autoimmunity associations) and why those eating a whole foods diet (as well as many following current low target sodium recommendation guidelines) may be eating too little sodium which is problematic as is too much. These recent findings shocked researchers and health providers; the least risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke was a moderate sodium intake. Covered also: Do you really need a dehydrator and cost considerations.
Additionally, the first sequel to this post, “The good, bad, & ugly of nuts – Sequel 1 to EASY Soak & Dehydrate Nuts,“ (coming soon) details why you must consider testing nuts for your tolerance level (Omega-3 to Omega-6 dietary loads and possibility of nut allergen).
Lastly, the technical details of neutralizing anti-nutrients and eliminating enzyme inhibitors is included in the second sequel to this post, “Nuts: Anti-nutrients & Enzyme Inhibitors – Sequel 2 to EASY Soak & Dehydrate Nuts,“ (coming soon). It is a must read; the very same mechanisms are present in seeds, grains, and legumes too. In reading this sequel, think about how to neutralize the grains and legumes you use for cooking and baking (rice, quinoa, amaranth, oats, buckwheat, spelt, wheat, lentils, black beans…). Directions are presented in my workshops; some can be found on my “WAPF Soaked Nut/Grain” and “Side Dishes” Pinterest boards.
The soak/dehydrate process is simple:
Here are some other trusted sources for similar soaking/dehydration methods for other nuts and seeds:
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon Morell explains how soaking nuts/seeds in a saltwater solution reduces the naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors and phytates in nuts and seeds.
Nourishing Traditions soaking and dehydration times can be found below. You can also ferment nuts in a whey solution and then dehydrate for use. Whey, or more correctly termed “liquid of hydrolysis” is the liquid one removes when dripping SCD yogurt. To use this method, place nuts in a bowl and cover with water and ½ cup whey. Soak for 24 hours and dehydrate according to the time listed below, or until dry. Nuts expand during the soak period so make sure they are completely submerged with plenty of extra water on top (about an inch or two above the nuts works).
Pecans & Walnuts – Soak 4 cups pecan or walnuts in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Rinse and place in dehydrator set at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Almonds – Soak 4 cups almonds in warm water with 1 tablespoon sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Rinse, place in dehydrator, sprinkle with salt/honey/other flavorings if desired and dehydrate at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Cashews – Because “raw” cashews are not truly raw (they are heated to 350 degrees while in their shell to neutralize a toxic oil called cardol), it’s not necessary to dehydrate them at a low temperature to preserve enzymes. However, soaking still makes them more digestible. Soak 4 cups cashews in warm water with 3 tablespoons sea salt for no more than 6 hours. (Because they are not raw they do not contain valuable enzymes that prevent spoilage, so 6 hours is the max). Rinse, place on a stainless steel cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake at 200-250F until dry, turning occasionally.
Peanuts – Soak 4 cups raw peanuts in warm water with 1 tablespoon sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). Drain and rinse. Dehydrate at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Pumpkin Seeds – Soak 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds in warm water with 1 tablespoon sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24hours). Drain and rinse. If desired, sprinkle with flavorings such as salt and honey or chili and lime before placing in dehydrator. Dehydrate at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
Sunflower Seeds – Soak 4 cups sunflower seeds in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons sea salt for 7 hours. Rinse and place in oven set at 105-150F for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally.
The post, SOAKING NUTS by Kimi Harris is also a trusted source and includes soak and dehydration directions which are very similar to the above and is based on Nourishing Traditions, 2nd edition, pg 452-453, 512, 513-517.
Why we use sea salt in the soaking medium:
The Weston A, Price Foundation, FAQ-Miscellaneous Food Questions, explains that the salt soak activates enzymes that de-activate enzyme inhibitors:
“The salt helps activate enzymes that de-activate the enzyme inhibitors. For grains, we soak in an acidic solution to get rid of phytic acid. Nuts do not contain much phytic acid but do contain high levels of enzyme inhibitors. The method imitates the way the native peoples in Central America treated their nuts and seeds–by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them.” In other words, since nuts contain less phytic acid but a lot of enzyme inhibitors, the salt soak works best to activate enzymes that de-activate the high amount of enzyme inhibitors. This can be contrasted to soaking grains, which have high phytic acid, and therefore are instead soaked using a cultured or acidic addition.
Ordinary Table Salt is associated with autoimmunity:
Proper nut preparation soak/dehydration uses mineral rich sea salt which contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and many others (according to Chemical composition of natural sea salt from the Sečovlje salina (Gulf of Trieste, northern Adriatic), the American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic). We do NOT use refined heavily processed ordinary table type salt which is void of any minerals and which also contains added anti-clumping ingredients (see American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic.) It is the latter ordinary mineral-less refined table salt that is used in restaurants as well as most prepared and processed foods, and it is the refined table salt that recently has come under fire for possible links to autoimmune disease. Details of these studies (see Study links processed table salt to autoimmune disease, Shaking Out Clues to Autoimmune Disease (National Institutes of Health), and [Refined] Salt Linked to Autoimmune Diseases), are discussed in detail in the post, WHOLE FOODS & SALT: HOW MUCH, AUTOIMMUNITY, & IODINE? NOTE: An association does not mean causation, but an excerpt explaining the association of refined table salt with autoimmune-promoting inflammation is:
” … increased dietary [refined] salt intake might represent an environmental risk factor for the development of autoimmune diseases through the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells”. –[Refined] Salt May Play Role In Autoimmune Disease, Third Study: Confirming Findings in Mouse and Human Cells
SODIUM: Soaking in a salt solution increases sodium levels
While the soaked nuts are drained and rinsed, they definitely do not taste “salty” though they would have sodium and trace minerals uptake since they balloon up full of the soaking medium during the soak, while later dehydration removes the water leaving the sodium and minerals behind. Do I care about the increased sodium?
First, quantity cues: Consumers of those incredibly delicious nut flour desserts… listen up. You shouldn’t be eating more than a handful of nuts a day mainly due to polyunsaturated nut fat profiles of Omega-3 (anti-inflammatory) to Omega-6 load balancing. See the first sequel to this post, “The good, bad, & ugly of nuts – Sequel 1 to EASY Soak & Dehydrate Nuts,” (coming soon) for details.
Second, regarding your salt intake, if eating mainly whole foods, meaning processed foods are eliminated, it’s likely very low and that can be seriously problematic. The post, WHOLE FOODS & SALT: HOW MUCH, AUTOIMMUNITY, & IODINE? explains the CDC, Sodium and Food Sources, position, that “Most of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, processed, store-bought, and restaurant foods. Only a small amount comes from salt added during cooking or at the table. In fact, most Americans already get more daily sodium than recommended before they ever pick up a salt shaker.” Some surprising sodium gluts are provided on this post but in summary they are: Poultry most often injected with broth, bread, sandwiches, pizza, soup, spaghetti sauce, and cheese.
The concern if not consuming enough sodium is an increased risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke:
Three recent studies are at issue as their findings are turning the current low target sodium recommendations on its head. This video: New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) video, Global Sodium Consumption, evaluated them and these are discussed in detail in the post, WHOLE FOODS & SALT: HOW MUCH, AUTOIMMUNITY, & IODINE? Also discussed in that post is other sources such as the Scientific American article, It’s Time to End the War on Salt, The zealous drive by politicians to limit our salt intake has little basis in science which summarized the research of eleven studies and showed that sodium does not dramatically alter blood pressure. Also discussed is The Wall Street Journal, Low-Salt Diets May Pose Health Risks, Study Finds Findings Are Latest Challenge to Benefits of Aggressively Low Sodium Targets (if the link doesn’t work just Google the title), and this Reuters article, Controversial studies say lowest sodium intake may pose risks. The consensus of the literature is:
too low and too high sodium consumption is high risk, but least risk is moderate sodium consumption.
Relevant New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) video, Global Sodium Consumption slides are:
In conclusion, if you are eating a whole foods diet with little to no processed foods, you’ll likely want to include salt and based on the autoimmune associations, I’d choose sea or Himalayan salt (and consider the need for some of that added to be iodized given the borderline deficiency for women of child-bearing age — see the post WHOLE FOODS & SALT: HOW MUCH, AUTOIMMUNITY, & IODINE? ) I actually use non-iodized sea salt for soaking nuts. For baking, I use both iodized and non-iodized sea salt including Himalayan, but consider your own dietary iodine loading from iodine rich whole foods and supplements (i.e. multivitamin). Make certain you read the research and educate yourself about your own situation relative to sodium and iodine dietary intake, and as always, speak with your doctor. Again, I am only increasing awareness, not making health care recommendations or advice.
Sidebar: I am not aware of any studies looking at impact of oral ingestion of sea salt on any disease, high blood pressure, or stroke. Studies to date use highly refined mineral-less table salt. I am only aware of pubmed studies showing the anti-inflammatory nature of sea salt in topical applications and oral health: 2005 Bathing in a magnesium-rich Dead Sea salt solution improves skin barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces inflammation in atopic dry skin, 2011 Anti-inflammatory Effects of Topical Formulations Containing Sea Silt and Sea Salt on Human Skin In Vivo During Cutaneous Microdialysis and 2013 Purple bamboo salt has anticancer activity in TCA8113 cells in vitro and preventive effects on buccal mucosa cancer in mice in vivo.
I most frequently use walnuts and pecans, and Why I use Honeyville almond flour:
I use properly prepared nuts (soaked and dehydrated) in all NUT recipes. I mostly soak and dehydrate walnuts (inflammation fighters) and pecans (artery defenders) because I can buy them in bulk reasonably priced at Costco, and I just toss in a blend of these two nuts whenever my recipe specifies nuts as an ingredient.
If using almond flour, I always use this Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour which is blanched to remove the brown skin and pasteurized using a hot water bath. Read the post, HOW TO BUY 100% RAW ALMONDS if you don’t know the ins and outs of almond pasteurization (it’s required by law and most use an application of a propylene oxide (jet fuel) that “evaporates” for pasteurization. A residue of propylene oxide is worrisome as it is classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen. with a mile long list of “Hazard Summary” result. )
Favorite uses for properly prepared nuts, a staple in my home:
- Always a jar on our kitchen island; all snack on in passing,
- Used in all recipes having nuts as ingredients especially homemade granola using properly prepared soaked/dehydrated nuts (post coming soon but this recipe is the featured photo to this post and its directions are on my “WAPF Soaked Nut/Grain” Pinterest board, called CRUNCHY, NUTTY, CINNAMONY, GRANOLA.)
- Fantastic travel snack,
- The perfect hostess gift,
- Great for packaging in parcels shipped to college,
- Use in school lunch and athletic event treats, and of course
- Add to the holiday cookie platters shared with family and friends; these nuts have become a favorite on those plates. Honestly though, I doubt many recipients realize the reason they are particularly drawn to their deliciousness is because they are properly prepared to maximize nutrition density.
Is a Dehydrator Needed for dehydrating nuts (or apples, fruits, jerky for that matter)?
Most use a dehydrator but you can crack open an oven door to achieve the low bake temperature. Often though, the long bake time (10 to 24 hours) makes this impractical.
I recommend and use the Excalibur nine tray dehydrator; it is a kitchen workhorse as it is always fully loaded each time I run it. I keep my Excalibur set out all the time as it is awkward to move about; it actually lives in my dining room, catty cornered as the unit is more deep then wide or high.
Probably yes because it is all about ENZYMES AND TEMPERATURE:
In short, you can bake the food at a 145F temperature for two to three hours and then lower to the 118F temperature since the temperature of the food itself will not rise above that which begins to destroy the live enzymes. This is further explained in the Raw and Living Food Guidelines, Excalibur Dehydration Guide. Also check out its many recipes:
“There are many varying opinions among raw foodists concerning the temperature at which enzymes become deactivated. The most frequently quoted temperature is 118ºF/47ºC / (food temperature) based upon the studies of dr. edward howell. However, he also states that the optimal temperatures for enzymes are between 45º/7ºC and 140ºF/60ºC, and temperatures above 140ºF/60ºC will destroy all enzymes.”
“We have discovered through research and testing, that the second of these two statements is more accurate when dehydrating, and that enzymes can actually withstand food temperatures into the 140ºF/60ºC. According to Dr. John Whitaker, a world recognized enzymologist, and emeritus professor and dean of the Food Science and nutrition department at UC Davis in California; most enzymes do not become deactivated until they reach between 140ºF/60 ºC and 158ºF/70ºC. This supports Howell’s statement of 140ºF/60ºC, as well as our tests and scientific experiments.”
“We have tested food samples for enzymatic activity that were dried at temperatures up to 145ºF/63ºC and found it to be the same as in the foods dried at lower temperatures. Enzymes are also most susceptible to damage by high heat while the food is wet. Once a high percentage of the foods moisture has been removed, the enzymes become more stable or dormant, and can withstand food temperatures higher than 155ºF/68ºC, according to Viktoras Kulvinskas. When the food is rehydrated with water or in the digestive track the enzymes become active again and assist your body’s enzymes in the digestive process.”
“According to Ann Wigmore and Viktoras Kulvinskas, the best way to preserve the living enzymes, and overcome the potential of spoilage or bacteria growth, is to set the dehydrator on the
highest temperature setting for the first two or three hours, then turn it down to less than 120ºF/49ºC for the remaining time. during the initial hours the food temperature will not exceed 118ºF/47ºC because of the high moisture content in the food. neither will the air temperature immediately rise to 145ºF/63 ºC. It may take several hours to get up that high. Following this procedure will cut the lengthy (30+ hours) drying time in half. If you cannot be there to turn the dehydrator down you may set at a lower temperature between 105ºF/41ºC and 120ºF/49ºC, but keep in mind that the lower the setting, the longer it will take to dehydrate.”
- Dehydrated fruit: At about $3.00 for a two serving bag of Organic Washington State Fuji BareFruit Baked Crunchy Apple Chips (which likely are old nutrient depleted apples that also have the enzymes baked out of them) dehydrating local seasonally grown nutrient dense apples (and other fruit) yourself is totally cost effective. See the post, HOW-TO DEHYDRATE APPLES & PRESERVE THE ENZYMES, EASY for directions.
- And you can’t buy grass-fed lactose free yogurt (SCD/GAPS/ PALEO – some camps), but you can make it in the Excalibur; just pull out the trays and bake away. This yogurt is a huge cost savings that results in an incredible nutrient and probiotic rich grass-fed cow or goat milk yogurt that has gut microbiome and health benefits beyond what science now knows; I make it every two weeks. See the post, CLA GRASSFED SCD YOGURT & CYTOKINE STUDIES: ERIVAN & WHOLE FOODS 365, for directions and details. Note: you can also use this yogurt to make fruit roll ups or frozen SCD yogurt (ingredients are yogurt, honey, vanilla, and fruit can vary from ripe spotted bananas to strawberries or blueberries). You cannot purchase frozen yogurt without additives.
- No more store bought cereal; instead sub Granola and Buckwheat “Cereal” if you must do “cereal”. The granola recipe [post coming soon] is one of the most popular on my Pinterest board: “WAPF SOAKED NUT/GRAIN RECIPES,” and it is called CRUNCHY, NUTTY, CINNAMONY, GRANOLA. This recipe was originally found on the “heal-balance-live.com” blog which sadly seems to have been removed. I modified it taking cue of ingredient variations from Steve’s Original_Apple Pie Recipe Paleo Krunch. The properly prepared SOAKED BUCKWHEAT GROAT COCOA CRISPIES is gluten-free; kids and collegiate Div1 runners love it. Find it too on my Pinterest board: “WAPF SOAKED NUT/GRAIN RECIPES.” Below are some ways I use properly prepared nuts:
There are two follow-up sequel posts to this post:
Many rely on nuts as a substitute for reductions made for excessive wheat and carbohydrate loading when transitioning to a whole foods diet or when eating SCD/GAPS/PALEO/AIP – if successfully reintroduced. The sequel two posts address the good, bad, and ugly of nuts so that you skip making the mistake of going crazy eating these delicious nuts at the expense of not eating other variety nutrient dense whole foods, and especially should your gut not be in a condition to tolerate nuts.
The first sequel post, “The good, bad, & ugly of nuts – Sequel 1 to EASY Soak & Dehydrate Nuts,“ (coming soon) details the Why’s associated with consuming properly prepared nuts to help you decide both frequency and quantity for your unique dietary needs and addresses:
- The Goodness of Walnuts and Pecans, and
- The Dark-side of nuts (Nuts are calorie dense with increased inflammatory Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid profiles (except for macadamia and hazelnuts), and Nuts are a top food allergen)
The second sequel post, “Nuts: Anti-nutrients & Enzyme Inhibitors – Sequel 2 to EASY Soak & Dehydrate Nuts,“ (coming soon) details the technical information pertaining to anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors in nuts that proper nut preparation (soak/dehydrate) neutralizes. The very same mechanisms are present in seeds, grains, and legumes too. In reading this post, think about how to neutralize the grains and legumes you use for cooking and baking (rice, quinoa, amaranth, oats, buckwheat, spelt, wheat, lentils, black beans…). Directions are presented in my workshops; some can be found on my “WAPF Soaked Nut/Grain” and “Side Dishes” Pinterest boards.
Hoping you give proper nut preparation (soak/dehydration) a try, IF you tolerate them that is!
Updated to fix and correct the link for Going Nuts! (article is posted at time 1/7/06 11:28 AM) by Stephen Byrnes, PhD. I found the article posted on this Men’s Health Forum under “Nuts?????”. Last updated: February 18, 2017 at 9:03 am
In health through awareness,