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.