Soaking Nuts and Seeds

Soaking Nuts and Seeds

Soaking nuts and seeds is how you prepare raw nuts and seeds before eating them.  Read on to learn why this is beneficial for digestion.

A Natural Process

The nut or the seed of the plant is how the plant reproduces itself.  In nature, the nut or seed will fall from the plant and then sit dormant until the conditions are right for it to sprout into a new plant.

In many cases the nut or seed will fall in the autumn and sit in its dormant state on the forest floor throughout the winter months.  When the spring rains come the nut or seed becomes activated by the water.  And from here the soaked seed can then sprout into a new plant.

What Keeps the Nut Dormant?

Nature has supplied nuts and seeds with enzyme inhibitors.  These protect the nut and keep it in its dormant state until conditions are ready for it to sprout and grow a new plant. 

These enzyme inhibitors are released when the nut is soaked (ie. spring rains out in nature or soaking overnight in a bowl in your kitchen).  The enzyme inhibitors are then washed away, the nut becomes activated and it's potential to begin to grow is then unleashed.

How this Applies to Digestion

If you eat most raw nuts and seeds that are in their dormant state (still have their enzyme inhibitors intact), they are very hard to digest properly.

When these are eaten without being soaked first the following symptoms can occur;

  • bloating
  • gas
  • cramping
  • heavy full feeling long after eating

Aside from the above, your body does not get to benefit from the full nutritional value because the nutrients within are not readily available.

An Easy Fix - Soaking Nuts & Seeds

Soaking nuts/seeds before eating them is an easy way to release the enzyme inhibitors and create a food that is easily digestible. 

In essence, when you soak a nut you are taking a dormant raw nut and activating it into its plant ready state.  The nutrients within are now readily available to be absorbed by your body.

The term 'soaking nuts' can be interchanged with the terms 'activating nuts' or 'sprouting nuts'.  In the case of the term sprouting, there will not always be an actual sprout visible but you are creating the environment within the nut where it is now ready to grow its sprout - or to sprout into a plant.

How do I Soak

Soaking nuts is very easy.  The steps are as follows;

  • Obtain raw organic nuts
  • Pour into a glass bowl and cover with good quality water (the nuts/seeds will expand so be sure to use a bowl that has room)
  • Let sit (out of fridge) for the desired time (see chart below)
  • Drain off soak water and discard (plants love this water)
  • Rinse well 

The nuts are now ready to eat. 

If you would like to make them dry and crunchy again, dehydrate them back into their crunchy state.  Once dry, you can store them in a glass jar until you are ready to use them. 

Dry your nuts using a dehydrator or out in the hot sun.  Dry them until completely dry to avoid any mold growing.

RECIPE TIP:  Flavor your nuts before dehydrating them to create a delicious snack.  Try things like tamari, cayenne powder, curry powder, maple syrup, honey...

Do this ahead of time and you will always have nuts ready when you want them.

How Long to Soak

I am not really one to follow recipes or rules exactly.  I much rather live according to guidelines, feelings and intuition.

So, when I am soaking nuts it is not an exact science.  For harder nuts, like almonds, I tend to leave them overnight (about 8 hours).  For softer ones, just a few hours.  And some I don't soak at all - they just don't seem to need it.

I don't believe you can really go wrong here as you will learn by doing.

Below is a little chart I put together with some ideas to get you started.  Do keep in mind that these are only guidelines.

Almonds  -->

8 hours

Walnuts -->

4 hours

Pecans -->

8 hours

Brazil Nuts -->

I don't usually soak these and if I do just for about 20-30 minutes.

Pine Nuts -->

I don't usually soak these and if I do just for about 15 minutes.

Cashews -->

I don't usually soak these and if I do just for about 15 minutes.

Pistachios -->

I don't soak these.

Peanuts -->

Only if you can obtain truly raw jungle peanuts and then soak overnight

Sesame Seeds -->

Can be soaked overnight, although I usually grind them unsoaked

Flax Seeds (Linseeds) -->

Very slippery (mucilaginous property) when soaked which is great it making something like crackers.  If you want to use dry, best to freshly grind the unsoaked seed just prior to use. 

Hemp Seeds -->

No need to soak, the outer shell has already been removed.

Hazelnuts -->

8 hours

Macadamia Nuts -->

I don't usually soak these and if I do just for about 15-30 minutes.

Pumpkin Seeds -->

8 hours

Sunflower Seeds -->

1 hour

Chia Seeds -->

These absorb water, no need to rinse. You are actually hydrating these rather than soaking them.  Soak them in the liquid you intend to ingest.  Click to read more.

What do I do with the Soak Water?

After soaking nuts and seeds, many people wonder if it is okay to drink this water ... it is not.

Plants love this soak water but our bodies do not!  Whenever I remember, I feed this beautiful water to the plants in and around our home.

Note that the enzyme inhibitors from the nuts/seeds has been released into this water.  Our digestive systems don't like this water but plants do.

Imagine this process in Nature ... The spring rains come and soak the dormant seeds that are lying on the forest floor.  Where does this soak water go?  It flows naturally into the ground and the plants around benefit from it.

Why Raw?

Nuts and seeds have an oil component to them.  These oils will go rancid when heated. 

If you are buying roasted nuts and seeds they have been heated which not only corrupts the healthy oils within but also many of the other nutrients.

Obtain your nuts and seeds in their raw organic state to benefit from their full range of nutrients.  Soaking nuts further prepares them for ingestion creating an environment where all of the nutrients within are in their most bio-available form.

Leave 'Soaking Nuts', return to 'Raw Food List'

Go to 'Making-Healthy-Choices' homepage


Almond Milk Recipe

Chia Seed Recipes and Information

Brazil Nut Recipe (Cream of Mushroom Soup)

Macadamia Nut Recipe (Vegan Cheese)

Pine Nut and/or Hemp Seed Recipe (Pesto Sauce)

Onion Burger/Bread Recipe (uses mixture of nuts/seeds)

Energy Ball Recipe (uses cashews)

Nori Wrap Recipe (uses mix of nuts/seeds)

Flax Seed Crackers

Healthy Cookie Recipe (uses cashews and almond pulp)


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