Thursday, April 4, 2013

Soaking & Dehyrdating Nuts

Hello everyone! On this relaxing weekend I took time to dehydrate some more almonds and walnuts! I mentioned a little bit about how to do this on my Top Ten Foods blog post, but will give you some step-by-step instructions here.  This process is adapted from the cookbook Nourishing Traditions.

Why soak & dehydrate nuts? Nuts that have not been soaked contain enzyme inhibitors that don't allow the nuts to be digested properly into our bodies. Soaking the nuts in water helps draw out these enzyme inhibitors. However, then the nuts are not crunchy, so we then dehydrate them to get them back to their crunchy texture and preserve the nutrients along the way.  It may seem like a long process, but it takes very little effort to do.  I notice a big difference in the taste and how I feel after eating them than the already prepared nuts you buy from the store.

Make sure you check the ingredients to make sure you are actually buying raw nuts; they will often add preservatives that we don't want.  Our local health food store and Dierbergs (grocery store) sell raw nuts in bulk; that is where I usually buy mine.  I was able to find a good deal of raw nuts at Trader Joes; this was the only place I could find the raw hazelnuts.

Soaking & Dehydrating Nuts (and Seeds)

For Almonds:

4 c. raw almonds
1 Tbsp sea salt

For Pecans & Walnuts:

4 c. raw pecans or walnuts
2 tsp sea salt

For Cashews:

4 c. raw cashews
1 Tbsp sea salt

For Hazelnuts:

4 c. raw hazelnuts
2 tsp sea salt

For Sunflower Seeds:

4 c. sunflower seeds
2 tsp sea salt

For Pumpkin Seeds:

2 c. pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp sea salt

1. Fill a large bowl with the nuts and sea salt (see above for measurements) and fill with water until the nuts are submerged.  If you want to half, double, third the recipe, it doesn't matter. Just make sure to do it in the ratio explained above.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter overnight, or at least 7 hours. For Cashews, however, you should soak for 6 hours, no longer, or they will break down too much (this is because cashews have always already been heated before coming to stores).

3. Once the nuts are done soaking, drain and rinse the nuts.  

4. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet or dehydrating tray.  If you have a dehydrator, refer to your manual for instructions.  If you are using a standard oven, place in an oven at least less than 150 degrees.  For Cashews, however, you should dehydrate at 200 degrees.

Note: On many ovens, the lowest degree will not go lower than about 170 degrees.  I was able to look up my oven manual on google and find out how to set the temperature -35 degrees lower than what the temperature reads.  This allowed me to take the temperature down to 135 degrees, a good temperature for dehydrating the nuts.  Let me know if you need some help with this, but don't forget to change the oven back when you are finished.

5. Dehydrate the nuts for 12 -24 hours, or until they are the right crunchiness/crispness you prefer.  It usually takes longer the longer you soaked the nuts. 

6. Store the almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews in the pantry in an airtight container and the pecans and/or walnuts in the refrigerator.  Make some trail mix with them, use on salads, use for my Nourishing Protein Bars, whatever you please! I will try to post some more recipes with nuts soon!

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