It’s Thanksgiving week, your plans have been made, for the most part. The dishes you will make and their ingredients have landed in a shopping list. But have you prepared the nuts you will incorporate into this week’s dishes and the special gifts you plan to make in the coming weeks?
Aha! For those of us who like or need a bit of kid-glove treatment for our food, preparing nutmeats for optimum digestibility is a must. When nuts are soaked overnight in warm water and salt, the anti-nutrients are annihilated. Or de-activated.
The enzyme inhibitors in nuts and seeds are there to prevent the seed from sprouting prematurely. This provides a long life for the seed – good for any creature foraging for food, especially in the winter. This also prevents gorging by wild creatures – they can only digest so many at a time – thus nature ensures that her wealth is shared. Humans also have a challenging time digesting these raw seeds and nuts.
That’s why soaking in filtered water with salt is helpful: the process deactivates the enzyme inhibitors, making the seeds easier for us to digest. For anyone involved in healing digestive issues, soaking nuts and seeds is a must.
Here’s a recipe I use from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon Morell. I don’t have a dehydrator, and my oven’s lowest temperature is 170°. This works just fine. Fallon Morell writes that many traditional cultures soak their nuts and grains (using acid, not salt), to aid in the digestibility and nutrient absorption – an old tradition many Americans are relearning.
Enjoy this week of giving thanks for all that we receive. Our blessings are many.
Soaking and Dehydrating Nuts and Seeds
For better nutrient absorption and ease of digestion, soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds is a must. It's a simple thing to do; the trick is to plan ahead by two days. Doing several kinds at a time - as many as your oven or dehydrator can handle - is a good time saver. You'll be ready with nourishing snacks on hand as well as the ingredients to make holiday dishes and delicious gifts.
- Any nuts or seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamia, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower
- Warm filtered water
- Sea Salt
- Empty nuts into bowls large enough to hold nuts and water with room for expansion.
- Add room temperature filtered water to cover nuts with 1 inch more water, as they will expand.
- Stir in 1 Tablespoon sea salt to 4 cups of nuts; adjust accordingly.
- Cover bowl with clean towel or plate; leave on counter at least 7 hours or overnight. (For cashews, soak for a maximum of 6 hours.)
- Prepare your dehydrator; set on lowest setting, less than 118°; or preheat oven to lowest temperature (150° ideal; usually 170°)
- Adjust oven shelves to top and bottom third of oven.
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
- Drain and rinse nuts in a large strainer, colander, or by hand; shake out excess water.
- Place nuts on parchment-lined cookie sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for about 24 hours, checking at 12 hours, and periodically. After 24 hours, they should be crispy.
- Remove and let air cool; store in air tight containers. Refrigerate walnuts.