If you’ve never heard about soaking or sprouting nuts but still think nuts are good for you, you may not know that nuts contain enzyme inhibitors. Enzymes are essential for proper digestion, so you really don’t want to eat anything that inhibits them. Fortunately there is a simple process that neutralizes these inhibitors.
All you have to do is soak the nuts in salt water, and then dry them out.
Once again, the habits of traditional peoples should serve as a guide. They understood instinctively that nuts are best soaked or partially sprouted before eaten… if they are first soaked in salt water overnight, then dried in a warm oven. This method imitates the Aztec practice of soaking pumpkin or squash seeds in brine and then letting them dry in the sun before eating them whole or grinding them into meal.
I haven’t experimented with sprouting yet, but soaking is super easy, and not too time consuming if you do it in large enough batches to last you a while. I just soaked eight cups of walnuts the other day–enough to fill a large bowl for soaking, and then two trays for drying, and then fit nicely into a half gallon mason jar.
In Nourishing Traditions, Fallon recommends drying them 12-24 hours in an oven set to warm, but we were having a heat wave here, and husband protested my plans for overnight oven use. So after getting them partially dry in the oven for about an hour and a half, I turned off the oven. Next day I set them in the hot sun to dry out the old fashioned way. And then I forgot to bring them in at night and it rained! Wah! So I rinsed them, soaked them for a few hours in salt water again (just seemed like the right thing to do for some reason) and then put them back outside to dry. They were fine. Then ground some of them up to make primal brownies! Mmmmm.
Different types of nuts need slightly different soaking techniques. All nuts should be raw.
WALNUTS AND PECANS
4 c. pecans or walnuts
2 t. salt
Mix nuts with salt water (enough to cover) and leave in a warm place for 7 hours to overnight. Drain. (The book doesn’t say to rinse, but I think I like them better rinsed). Spread on a baking sheet and place in warm oven (no warmer than 150 says the book, but my oven only goes down to 170 and they did okay the time I did that, but I may have destroyed some of the enzymes). Dry for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally, until crisp. Store in an airtight container. Walnuts need to be refrigerated due to their high triple unsaturated linolenic acid content, which causes them to go rancid easily.
PEANUTS, PINE NUTS, HAZELNUTS
4 c. nuts
1 t. salt
Follow directions for walnut recipe.
2 c. almonds
1 T. salt
Note the recipe calls for a tablespoon, not a teaspoon. Follow directions above. May also use almond slivers.
4 c. “raw” cashews
1 T. salt
Commercial cashews are not really raw. Soak for no longer than 6 hours and be sure they dry out quickly (or they may get slimy). Use an oven at 200 to 250 degrees to dry them.
If it’s hot out, I think the sun drying method is excellent (though it might not be fast enough for the cashews). Just let them sunbathe until crisp.