Nuts and seeds that you buy in the shops are generally either raw or roasted. These days you can buy activated nuts and seeds, which simply means they have been soaked to re-activate them and bring them back to life and then dehydrated at low temps. This process makes them tastier and easier to digest too. It’s a simple process to do at home, so let’s get into it.
Why are they referred to as “activated” nuts?
When you buy nuts/seeds from the shop, they’re dormant. They don’t become active and alive again until you soak them. That’s why learning how to activate nuts at home is so useful – shop bought activated nuts can be very expensive.
If you think about the way things work in nature, this mechanism makes a lot of sense. In nature, nuts grow with a protective shell around them. This shell is difficult to penetrate and keeps the nuts safe as they naturally burrow into the earth over time.
It will then lay dormant until a strong rain comes, soaking the earth and the nuts within it. At this time, the nuts become alive again, sprout a tail that grows into the earth and, eventually, turns into another almond tree.
Of course, animals might come along and eat them at any stage, but there are typically a lot per tree and all it takes is a few to survive and grow into trees.
At home, when we buy the nuts (and seeds) we are acting like mother nature when we soak the seeds; bringing them back to life in order to reap all their wonderful “alive” benefits.
What are the benefits of eating activated nuts/seeds?
As mentioned above, when nuts are soaked, it brings them back to life and they can begin sprouting. All the conditions must be ‘just so’ for a nut to sprout and germinate. If it should sprout too early, the conditions would not be right and it would die.
In order to prevent premature germination, nuts contain natural chemicals, including enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, both of which are toxic to humans in high doses.
Enzyme inhibitors in nuts can interfere and inhibit our own digestive enzymes. Meaning we’re not able to absorb the beneficial nutrients they have to offer. Phytic acid can overwhelm our digestive system and lead to people feeling unwell and bloated after eating nuts. When you soak the nuts, you make them more easy to digest and therefore alleviate a lot of the negative symptoms associated with nuts and nut butters. Soaking them does not affect their fat content, as far as I am aware, so they are still a heavy food for that reason.
How long do activated nuts keep?
As long as you dry them completely, until they are crisp inside and out, and store them in an airtight container, activated nuts will keep for up to 1 year. If you want to use them in a recipe that calls for soaked or activated nuts, simply soak them for 20 mins-1 hour in warm water to soften before using.
- Nuts/Seeds – however much you need or want to activate
- Water – best to use spring, bottled or distilled water v.s tap water
- Place the nuts/seeds in a bowl about 2 times its mass – when it soaks, it’ll absorb water and the overall mass will increase.
- Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the nuts/seeds by 3 inches – this will insure it has enough water to soak up.
2. Let them soak 8 hours or overnight.
3. Using a sieve, drain and rinse the nuts/seeds until the water runs clear. You don’t need to be precious about this step, just make sure it’s clean.
4. If you’re using seeds (sunflower, hemp, etc…) you can continue to sprout them by transferring to a clean bowl and following the same instructions as for sprouting buckwheat.
5. Transfer the rinsed nuts/seeds onto a mesh dehydrator tray or, if you’re using an oven, transfer them onto a baking tray. Do not overcrowd the tray or they won’t dry evenly.
6. Dehydrate at 45c – 60c, or your preferred temperature, for 10 hours or until the nuts/seeds are dry all the way through. They will show their true crispness once cooled, but when still warm in the dehydrator, they will seem soft. The lower the temp you use, the longer the drying will take.
6. If using an oven, do so on the lowest temps you can and use the fan assist/convection setting to allow for full air circulation. Something like 50c-60c will do.
7. Once they are dry and cool, store in an airtight container or jar for up to 1 year.
How To Activate Nuts & Seeds
- 100g nut or seed of your choice
- 250g filtered water
- Soak the nuts or seeds in a large bowl with enough water to cover by 3 inches or so.
- After about 8 hours, drain them off and rinse them well.
- Transfer to a mesh dehydrator tray and dry at 45c-60c until crisp, about 10 hours or until crisp when cool.
- If using an oven, transfer to a baking tray and dry in the oven on the lowest temp using the fan assist / convection setting so they get full air circulation. Dry until crisp once cooled to room temp, about 2-4 hours.
- Once dry, store in an airtight container for several months.
Ways To Use Your Activated Nuts
Nuts/seeds can be activated and stored, or can be used in a multitude of ways. From using plain nuts in chocolate for a crunch or candying it for the same purpose. Check out the recipes below for some easy ways to use your activated nuts.
Walnut Cranberry Brittle– this is an awesome snack dipped in chocolate, or keep it plain and use as a delicious salad topper!
Gingerbread Granola – here I use a combo of oats and almonds to make an awesome granola.
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