Soaking Walnuts

Soaking Walnuts

Bunches of people online say I should soak raw nuts before eating them so I thought I’d try it.  (see, for instance: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/07/soaking-nuts.html ).  Apparently this does all sorts of fantastic healthy things to the nuts, like de-activating enzyme inhibitors or some such.  I was planning on whipping up a batch of walnut pesto anyway, so I decided to give my walnuts a quick soak before throwing them in the food processor.  Well, the first thing I found out is that it is not a quick process – recommended soaking time for walnuts is 7 hours.  I left them overnight in salted water and figured I’d make pesto the next day.  Of course, when I got up in the morning I didn’t time to deal with them before work, so I didn’t drain them until I got back that evening, which left my walnuts soaking for almost 20 hours (oops).

Anyway, the next thing I found out is that you don’t just have to soak them, you have to dehydrate them as well.  Yup, that’s right – you have to drench them in water and then dry them out.  Sounds a bit unproductive, but apparently it’s good for the enzymes.  Ok, fine.

Then I found out you’re supposed to dehydrate them in a dehydrator.  Unfortunately, although my mother-in-law has a fabulous handmade one, I do not.  All I had was an oven, which was not being cooperative.  The ideal dehydrating temperature is apparently 115 degrees, and definitely no higher than 150 degrees because this will roast the nuts and destroy all those nutritious, delicious enzymes.  Trying to turn my oven lower than 170 degrees just resulted in it turning off.

I was already this far into this nut-soaking expedition, I had to keep pressing on.  I put them in the oven, turned it on to 170 degrees, then when it was preheated, turned it off and let the walnuts bask in the residual heat.  I did that twice in the evening and once when I woke up in the morning.  When I got back from work that day, I took them out of the oven.  At this point, they had been sitting in various levels of heat/cold in the oven for about 18 hours.

My husband and I tentatively tried them, wondering what the difference in taste would be from regular raw walnuts.  After thoughtfully munching for a little bit, Matt announced, “You blandified them!

It was true.  They had lost what had made them walnuts in the first place–that slightly bitter, but distinctively walnutty flavor.  It was completely gone.  And I missed it.

All that work, and I can’t say we really appreciated the result.  I think this marks the end of my nut-soaking days.  I gave this a 1/5 happy monkeys.

Finally, two days after the inspiration hit me, I got to throw them in the food processor and make pesto.  And it was delicious.  That story will be tomorrow’s post.

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9 Comments

Filed under 1/5 Happy Monkeys, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Snack, Sugar-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

9 responses to “Soaking Walnuts

  1. beto

    :-) Why would you soak anything in salt water, that you actually wanted to sprout? Pure spring or filtered water is the way to go in my years of nut soaking/sprouting experience. Same water I drink & use in all my food preps.

    • No Food Dietician

      I don’t really know. I would have to refer to The Nourishing Gourmet’s post on this, where she quotes Sally Fallon:
      “Q. When soaking nuts, why is the salt needed? A. 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.”
      However, I don’t agree with Sally Fallon on a lot of things so maybe this is one of them.
      In my experience, with or without salt, nuts never really “sprout.” They just get bigger with soaking.

  2. Nathan P

    Umm. I soak mine and they taste like Candy when they are done. Make sure you use the right salt (Himalayan or Mediterranean sea salt). Normal Table salt = bleh.

    I don’t like Walnuts unless their soaked either. It depends really on the person eating them. Plus, I actually digest them after they’re soaked.

  3. Ginny

    Do u have to add salt for soaking nuts. Won’t that result with salty nuts? I retain water if I eat too much salt.

    • Magdalena

      You don’t have to add it but it helps the enzyme inhibitors come out of the nuts. Also, you rinse the nuts a few times when they’re done soaking so that rinses off most of the salt.

  4. Nailgun

    I recently tried soaking some walnuts in whey (instead of saltwater) for 20 hours or so, and they turned out having a very strong, interesting taste.
    They also stayed quite firm. I gave dehydrating them a little a shot anyway and they then became crunchier than normal walnuts after circa another day.
    It was for use with some zucchinibread with creamcheese icing and I’d say if I were to do it again I would’ve just stuck them on top right after draining.

  5. Mark

    I’m currently soaking some walnuts & almonds overnight, though I won’t be dehydrating them. Hopefully there will be a decent product in the end!

    • Magdalena

      Hi Mark, that’s great that you are soaking your nuts. I really should update this post because I have learned so much since I first posted. I soak all my nuts now, usually overnight in filtered water with a bit of sea salt. Then I rinse and use. I think this makes them more digestible and they blend easier for certain recipes. I still have yet to master dehydrating them after soaking but as long as you use them right after soaking, there is no need to dehydrate. I think dehydrating them again is only if you need to store them for a while after soaking. Thanks for commenting and good luck!

  6. glad to hear you’ve found the benefits of soaking your nuts. i agree it would be time to amend the post as i was almost sad to read you were finished with doing the process.
    great post. peace and light.
    P

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