Everything You Need To Know About Activating Nuts!

RFBactivatingnuts_banner[1]Here at MNB we go absolutely nuts for nuts!

I’m totally nuts about nuts.
Ah, to munch on walnuts
or brunch on almonds,
I will lunch on pecan nuts
and crunch on cashews…

They seem like a great choice of snack – high in protein and essential fats, and riddled with fibre, antioxidants and minerals. This we know to be true, but they also contain natural chemicals that could interfere with your digestive system and prevent you from absorbing all of that wonderful nutrition.

Similar to how grains and legumes contain phytic acid, nuts contain enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors act by binding to enzymes and decrease and/or block their actions. The enzyme inhibitors are beneficial to nuts, as they prevent the nuts from prematurely sprouting, however they also act on our digestive enzymes, preventing their proper digestion and absorption.

Nuts and seeds also contain small amount of phytic acid, which our digestive system is also unable to break down. Eating large amounts of raw nuts could then lead to symptoms such as feeling ‘heavy’, feelings of uncomfortable fullness, even nausea. Not only this, but it puts a massive strain on our our digestive system, compromising already fragile digestive tracts.

So what now, do we stop eating nuts?

Definitely not! Because a life without nuts is like a life not even worth living, is it not? It is comparable to a life without love. Or a life without country sides and fresh air. Or a life without friendship. Or Game of Thrones.

So no, we do not have to stop eating nuts. We just have to activate them!

We have all heard about activated nuts – and how pricey they can be at our favourite health food store.

But what if I tell you that going to all that expense is not necessary, and you can save yourself a fortune by activating nuts yourself?

Activating nuts is an ancient and traditional practice that required the soaking of nuts and seeds in brine and letting them dry in the hot sun. Nowadays, we have a much faster and more sanitary method of drying, but the objective remains the same.

The soaking times of nuts vary according to what text you read. My personal method of activating nuts is inspired by Sally Fallon, as described in her book, “Nourishing Traditions”.

Ok. Ready?

This table shows you the different soaking times of nuts, the drying times, as well as how much salt to use for every cup of nuts.

RFBactivatingnuts_table2

How to activate your nuts…

  1. Dissolve salt in enough water to cover the amount of nuts/seeds you are activating.
  2. In a large bowl place your nut or seed of choice.
  3. Cover with the salt water solution.
  4. Soak for the required number of hours.
  5. Strain and rinse the nuts.
  6. Spread over a dehydrator rack, or baking tray.
  7. Dry in the dehydrator for around 12-24 hours.
  8. If drying in the oven, set the oven at the lowest temperature possible, preferably no more than 65C. Stir or turn them occasionally, for the required drying time.
  9. And the result? A crunchy, delicious, totally bio-available and stress-free, nut!

_D8A6187

_D8A6200It is important to ensure that your nuts really are dry and crispy before removing them from the dehydrator or oven, otherwise there is a risk that your beautiful and expensive nuts will become riddled with mould. Always check your nuts and seeds thoroughly (by chowing down a few), to see if they really are completely dry, even if at the end of the recommended drying time stated in our table. After they are completely dry, you can store these babies in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Storing them at low temperatures preserve their nutrition and prevent the rancidity of their natural fats.

The reason nuts are soaked in salty water is because the salt acts to awaken enzymes that are then able to break down and neutralise enzyme inhibitors.  This is different to grains and legumes, which are soaked in an acidic medium (either vinegar, whey or lemon juice), as it is required to remove the high levels of phytic acid that naturally occur in these foods. As nuts do not have a lot of phytic acid, but instead high levels of enzyme inhibitors, a different soaking method is necessary.

Soaking the nuts and seeds deactivates the enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting, as well as removes any phytic acid present. Therefore, after soaking there may be evidence that your nuts/seeds have started sprouting. This is perfect, as all sprouted foods have become ‘alive’ again, and are able to be easily digested by our digestive systems, and their nutrients assimilated.

Stay tuned for a super nourishing snack recipe using activated nuts! Let me give you a hint. They are a little spicy and a little bit sweet. I can’t wait!

fOR FURTHER READING:
  • Sally Fallon’s Book, Nourishing Traditions (2001)
  • Jude Blereau’s Book, Wholefood  (2006)
  • Deshpande, S.S. et.al. [Article], Fermented Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds; A global perspective (2000)
  • Admassu, S [Review]. Biologically Active Compounds of Plant Foods: Prospective impact on human health and dilemmas associated with these compounds (2008)
  • Amy Crawford’s Blog, The Holistic Ingredient see here
  • Emma Sgourakis Blog, The Nutrition Coach, see here
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About the Author

Profile photo of Rhiannon Mack

Rhiannon Mack: Rhiannon learnt the importance of food and health from an early age, having a family prone to food allergies and diabetes. Upon completing a Bachelor of Nutrition, however, she realised that simply telling people how to eat healthy was not enough. She wanted to teach them – teach them hands on how to prepare healthy foods, how to create tasty meals, and how to love their new found way of life. And so she pursued a career in cheffing, so that she could learn the ‘rules’ of cooking, to then pass on to others. Presently, Rhiannon has already inspired many, through her blogs, as a cooking school teacher and as the original LJ Active Chef/Nutritionist. She wishes to go on and make a positive change in the community, to reshape and inspire the way we approach sensible nutrition. When Rhi isn't in the kitchen (which is pretty much never) she loves X-Fit, hot porridge, her “fur” children and learning new things.


Comments

  1. Paula on said:

    From one Nut to another :-) Thank you Rhiannon,
    I have never tried this before.
    I am going to Activate a bowel of Nuts for this Sunday so I can nibble whilst watching my Game of Thrones!!!
    Almonds, Cashews and Sunflower seeds sound like a good mix.
    Have a great week.
    Paula.
    MNB.

    1. Rhi Mack on said:

      Yes! That sounds amazing Paula! :)

      I’m glad you enjoyed this article, and all the best with your activating!

      Love Rhi
      Xox

  2. Matilda on said:

    If you buy your nuts in bulk (like I do). Freeze what you don’t use, so they don’t go rancid.
    Otherwise keep them in your fridge.
    Same applies to almond meal and almond flour (no they are not the same, almond flour is made with blanched almonds, while the meal is including the husk)

  3. Coleen on said:

    Great article! Could you recommend a dehydrator? I don’t think I can leave my oven on for 12-24 hours!

    1. Rhi Mack on said:

      Hi Coleen, thanks so much for your response!

      And yes, I would definitely recommend a dehydrator, for all energy, safety and efficiency reasons. You can buy dehydrators at myer and good electronic places these days – the cheapest being around $100 or so… And they are just as good as any :)

      Hope this helps!

      Good luck with the activating!
      Rhi
      Xox

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  6. Georgia on said:

    Hi,

    I was wondering if its possible to soak the nuts over night and then eat the following morning, without having to dry them out?
    I’m aware if I want to to large batches I would need to dry them to store them, but do eat within a few hours of taking out of the water, is this ok?
    Thanks :)

    1. Profile photo of Rhiannon MackRhiannon Mack Post authoron said:

      Hi Georgia,

      I can’t see how there would be any problem with eating the nuts still wet, if it were within a day or so. Any longer, like you said, it would be better to dry them out to prevent moulds from growing on them.
      Cashews I especially would eat immediately after removing them from the water, as they are very susceptible to mould and fungal growth.
      Wet and soggy nuts are definitely not as tasty, however, as the super crunchy nuts that you get from activating and drying them, and would probably be best to use in a nut milk or on top of your breakfast.

      Hope this has helped, and thanks for reading!
      Happy MNBing
      Rhi
      X

  7. Chlo on said:

    Hi,

    I’m soaking some almonds at the moment and tomorrow morning will put them in the oven! However I’m going to be out working during the day, do u think it’s okay to leave them in the oven all day on low while I’m out? Or is it possible to dry the nuts with a dishcloth and have an interval between putting them in the oven in the evening? Thanks!

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  12. Deb on said:

    Great article. Thanks so much for sharing. I just bought a dehydrator and am itching to try this out. When the nuts/seeds are drying – is it possible to add flavours and oils to them first? Or do you wait until afterwards? I am fine eating them just the way they are, but trying to keep the family happy, too. Thanks so much!

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  15. Andrea Wust on said:

    Thank you for this. I am going to try this. Can I ask if you follow this process before making nut meal?? Or does the cooking sort out the phytic acid?? Thanks.

    1. Profile photo of Rhiannon MackRhiannon Mack Post authoron said:

      Hi Andrea,

      You can do this before you make nut meal yourself, commercial varieties wouldn’t be soaked of course.
      I have read in many places, however, that the meal itself does not contain high levels of phytic acid because of the processing that it goes through.

      Thanks,
      Rhi
      x

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  17. Alan on said:

    Hi, great website.

    Cam anyone tell me how long dehydrated nuts will last in the fridge? A month or two?

    Also does anyone soak in warm filtered water?

    Thanks

    1. Profile photo of Rhiannon MackRhiannon Mack Post authoron said:

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for reading MNB :)

      Activating nuts will make them extremely stable – they will last for a long time (couple of years), particularly if you keep them in the fridge or freezer.

      Rhi
      x

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