I love almonds, walnuts, and pecans. Nuts are a true natural food, rich in proteins, healthy fats and enzymes. However tree-nut allergies are on the rise, and many people have problems digesting nuts. When improperly grown and prepared, nuts are difficult or impossible to break down. Here’s how to find reputable nut distributors and how to prepare them to maximize their natural goodness.
How can we enjoy nuts without digestive problems?
Like all grains and seeds, nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, making them difficult to digest. Soaking nuts in salt water neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors. We can learn from native peoples in Central America, who soaked their nuts and seeds in seawater and then dried them. Even squirrels know how to soften nuts by burying them in the ground! Commercially sold nuts are tasty but quite difficult on the digestion due to the anti-nutrients present in all nuts and seeds. However when you taste the difference after soaking and drying them, you’ll find they’re even more delicious. There’s no bitterness. Just try it and notice the difference.
Nuts are delicate. It is important to find a reliable source for fresh nuts that are cultivated with care. Since nuts are high in natural oils they can easily become rancid. Many groceries stock nuts for years without rotating or refrigerating. Some producers add sweeteners or cheap vegetable oils to the nuts to make them more flavorful. However if your nuts are fresh and from a reliable source, their natural flavor is simply delicious. Always look for nuts in a store with a rapid turnover. I buy them from my local food coop where they are rotated and refrigerated, or from a reliable source online, such as sunorganicfarm.com.
How to Soak Nuts for Digestibility
Soaking nuts dissolves anti-nutrients and makes them easier to digest. For Almonds, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame, Sunflower seeds or Walnuts: Soak 4 cups nuts in warm filtered water with 2 teaspoons sea salt for 7 hours or longer (up to 24 hours). For Cashews, soak no more than 6 hours as they have been partially soaked and heated, so that more than 6 hours soaking may make them bitter. No need to soak: Brazil nuts, Hemp Seeds, Pine Nuts, Pistachios. Store soaked nuts in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 days.
How to Make Crispy Nuts for Storing
Crispy nuts will store for months in an airtight container. For all nuts: soak, rinse well, drain and spread them on a stainless steel or glass baking pan. Heat them in a low oven no more than 150° F. with the door cracked open, turning them from time to time. If you have a dehydrator, dehydrate for 12 hours or until dry and crispy. I find it easiest to buy nuts, soak them all immediately and then crisp them, so they’re always ready for snacking and using in recipes. The drying time will vary from 10 to 24 hours depending on the size of your nuts, their moisture content, and the temperature of your oven or dehydrator. Check them every few hours.
How to Toast Nuts
Toasted nuts are super-delicious! Just a bit of heating brings out depth and richness to the flavors. Toast them at 350° F. 9 – 12 minutes, depending on the size of the nut, stirring occasionally. Set a timer and take care not to overbake them.
I learned this method from Sally Fallon in her ground-breaking book: Nourishing Traditions. Thanks!