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Go nuts for nuts! Nuts are one of the best sources of plant protein available, and they’re positively delicious. I’ve been soaking and dehydrating nuts for a long time because of the healthful and practical benefits.
Nuts and seeds contain compounds (phytic acid) that help them remain dormant until the right conditions are present for them to sprout. These same compounds can interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients contributing to nutrient deficiencies and digestive system irritation. Soaking nuts reduces phytic acid and helps unlock the nutritional value of nuts. Read more about the benefits.
As if those aren’t enough reasons, most people agree that soaking and dehydrating nuts makes them tastier and restores the crunch after soaking.
Nuts are naturally delicious, hearty, and shelf stable, but they can only last for so long before they go stale, lose their flavor and nutritional value. Dehydrating food has become a common practice this day and age, including fruit, seeds, and nuts. With all the uncertainty in the world, more people see the practicality of having a sizeable food supply stowed away for a time of need. However, you don’t necessarily have to be a disaster prepper to dehydrate nuts for long-term storage. If you favor good health and being thrifty, then soaking and dehydrating nuts is a good idea for you.
Why you should soak and dehydrate nuts
- Non-organic nuts are mass-farmed with fertilizer and pesticides, and they are exposed to other impurities during the refining processes. By soaking nuts, you are cleansing them, thereby eliminating any harmful chemicals that might be present.
- Nuts that have been soaked and dehydrated taste great. Soaking adds just the right amount of salt to your nuts and activates their natural flavors. Dehydrating makes your nuts crispy and delicious, extending their shelf-life for years potentially.
- When you soak nuts, their PH increases, making them more alkaline. This is particularly important for people with inflammatory issues. Diseases and bacteria don’t persist as much in alkaline environments.
- Raw nuts are packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients. However, they are also naturally packed with phytic acids and enzyme inhibitors. The process of soaking your nuts will activate them, causing them to lose their anti-nutrients. Activating nuts will also increase vitamin content and make them easier to digest.
How to Soak Nuts
Most nuts can be soaked using the same steps. Typical soaking times are 2-4 hours. However, certain nuts have individual soaking requirements. Almonds and hazelnuts in particular need to be soaked longer, in the 8-12 hour range.
In ancient times, nuts were soaked in seawater. Obviously, sea water is much more polluted today than it was in the past. When soaking nuts, I like to create my own saltwater solution. My standard recipe for soaking nuts is one gallon of water for every four cups of nuts and two even tablespoons of sea salt. Some prefer to ferment their nuts with a whey solution, but it is not necessary.
Here are the details steps:
- Choose a bowl large enough and add nuts then cover with a generous amount of water, at least an inch over the top. Remember they tend to expand while soaking and you want to keep them completely covered.
- Add a teaspoon or two of sea salt or my favorite, pink Himayalan salt.
- Place the bowl on the counter and soak (room temperature) for the recommended time. You can cover the bowl with a breathable cloth, like cheesecloth if desired.
- After the soaking is complete, rinse the nuts thoroughly. You can use a strainer or colander if it’s large enough.
- Pat dry with a towel to remove excess moisture.
- Arrange nuts on the dehydrator rack, leaving a little space for air circulation.
- Dry for the recommended amount of time to obtain the desired texture.
Recommended soaking time
Denser and harder nuts require a longer soak time. Nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts are best soaked for 8-12 hours. Pecans, pistachio, and walnuts require slightly less time. Softer nuts like Brazil nuts and cashews require the least soaking time.
How to dehydrate nuts in a dehydrator
Some people use their ovens to dehydrate nuts after soaking. I do not advise this! An electric dehydrator can provide much better results. The primary reason I insist on using an electric dehydrator is that ovens are meant to cook, not dehydrate. Though they can dehydrate if operated at a low enough temperature, they’re generally not as efficient or effective as a dehydrator is. Further, the proper temperature for dehydrating nuts is 150’. Most oven dials don’t have a setting that low.
Operating an electric dehydrator uses much less electricity than an oven does, and by using a dehydrator, you won’t have to wait for your oven to preheat. Do yourself a favor and get a dehydrator. Most models are cheaper than the average month’s phone bill.
After thoroughly soaking the nuts, spread them on a dehydrator tray in a single layer. Make sure your temperature and alarm dials (if your model has them) are set properly. The average dehydrating time for most nuts is between 5 to 15 hours. It depends on temperature, elevation, and which kind of nuts you’re dehydrating. Check your nuts every couple of hours. Depending on your dehydrator model, you may need to turn or rotate the trays occasionally when drying. Fear not! Electric dehydrators are simple and easy to use.
Some recommended electric dehydrators for nuts
Now that you see the benefits of soaking and dehydrating nuts, let’s consider some electric dehydrator models that I think would be a great addition to any home. Below, you will find the four electric dehydrator models that I recommend most.
Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
The Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator is cheap and effective. This electric dehydrator comes with four drying trays that tuck smoothly into the unit for convenient storage. However, this model also has the capacity to operate with eight trays, and any extra trays can be purchased separately.
The operation is simple and easy. The lid is see-through, allowing users to monitor the drying process. It comes with a base-mounted fan and heating element. Trays closer to the bottom may tend to dry faster than the trays at the top. Tray rotation might be necessary to ensure even drying.
Clean up is a breeze, and the food parts are BPA-free. The lid and the trays are dishwasher friendly. Also, you have a choice to upgrade your purchase to include mesh screens or fruit roll sheets. Overall, this is a great dehydrator, both economic and effective.
Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
I really love this the Nesco Snackmaster Pro. Not only is it made in the U.S.A., but it kicks butt! It’s a bit more expensive than the previous model, but the few extra dollars would be well spent.
It comes with 5 drying trays, which is enough to dehydrate a large batch of nuts. You may purchase additional trays if you’d like to, as this unit is capable of dehydrating up to 12 trays at once.
It also has an adjustable thermostat so you can control the temperature. Different foods dry at different temperatures, and your new food dehydrator might inspire you to see what else you can dehydrate, like herbs or other foods.
It comes with a top mounted fan and heating element. What’s interesting about this model is the patented Converga-Flow system it contains. This system forces hot air along the exterior of the chamber, but not through the drying trays. This gives it excellent airflow and promotes even drying. With this model, you won’t have to worry about rotating your trays. This is a great buy and one that I highly recommend.
AUKUYEE Food Dehydrator Machine
Here’s another great food dehydrator that will work well for drying your nuts. It houses a maximum of 5 trays that stack on top of each other. Most dehydrators only offer a few drying trays, but the Aukuyee Food Dehydrator Machine comes with 1 mesh sheet and 1 fruit roll sheet, in addition to the 5 drying trays that come with the unit.
Like the Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster, this model features a digital thermostat timer control. It also operates with a 360’ Air-Flow Circulation system, drying all trays evenly. No need for tray rotation here. The one advantage that the Nesco holds over the Aukuyee Food Dehydrator is that it has an opaque exterior that it claimed to help block harmful light that can destroy nutritional content of food being dehydrated. You can decide for yourself if you prefer the clear see-through trays of the Aukuyee. Most dehydrators have a 24-hour max dry time, but the Aukuyee has a 72-hour timer. It’s probably overkill for dehydrating nuts, but may be a nice feature for dehydrating certain fruits like apricots, figs, grapes which can take up to 30 hours to dehydrate.
Looking for more info on dehydrators? Here’s our guide to budget food dehydrators.