Is it Necessary to Soak Nuts?
With all the creamy sauces, milks, cheeses, and nut-based dishes I've created in my two decades as a vegan chef, I'm often asked this question. The answer is ultimately, "no, it's not essential" though as with legumes, soaking does increase the bio-availability of their powerhouse of nutrients like high monounsaturated fats, protein, and trace minerals.
The basic method is to cover nuts or seeds with 2 inches of water and soak for the time specified in the image below.
Some of the benefits of soaking:
- Neutralizes phytic acid, which inhibits digestion and prevents premature sprouting. Mama Nature is brilliant. She added these inhibitors to keep the nut or seed dormant until the growing conditions are optimal. Soaking mimics “rainy conditions” that in nature would initiate sprouting and growing.
- Easier digestion (just like beans!).
- Increases the availability and absorption of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, particularly B vitamins, calcium, iron, and zinc.
- Encourages beneficial enzymes.
- Creates a creamier texture, by softening the nut’s texture through rehydration.
- Batch soak and freeze: My favorite pro-tip is to batch-soak nuts and store them in the freezer so they're ready to use. Here's how: in a large bowl, cover 3-4 cups of nuts with 2 inches of water, and soak for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse, drain again, and transfer to a zip bag. Spread flat in the freezer so the nuts don't freeze in a large clump. The next day, you can store the frozen nuts upright.
- Quick soak: If time doesn’t allow for lengthy soaking, you can speed up the process. Cover nuts with 2 inches of water, briefly bring to a boil, turn off heat, and let sit for one hour. Always discard soaking water and rinse thoroughly before using.