Posted on Leave a comment

Making Food More Digestible: Soaking Seeds & Nuts

As wildfires are raging across New Mexico, filling the air I breathe with toxic smoke, obscuring the view, and adding another degree of hardship to the parched earth, I watch a mother Phoebe feed her 3 fledglings that are madly fluttering around the nest (which has been perched on my porch light for over 22 years). No matter what is going on, her job is to feed those babies…even after her mate was killed by a gust of wind that slammed him to the floor. That has given me food for thought as so much “bad news” is filling our lives. Focus on the difficult and depressing, or focus on how to keep feeding ourselves and our loved ones as best we can.

Nature has built-in designs for helping every species’ progeny continue. For seeds and nuts, part of the strategy is a family of chemicals called enzyme inhibitors, which help keep the seed from germinating too fast, and making it a bit less palatable as food since fresh raw nuts are often bitter-tasting. The ingestion of raw nuts is hard on humans’ digestive tracts because those enzyme inhibitors, well, inhibit digestion. We basically have 3 strategies for changing this situation: soak them in salt water, soak them in water with a little whey (beginning to ferment them), or sprouting.

Traditional people watched what animals did to learn more about how to live well. Squirrels eat a small amount of acorns raw, but they bury scads, and dig them up over the winter, and most of those acorns have slightly sprouted. Turns out sprouting (and this is just till the seed or nut has a beensy 1/4th inch sprout) removes enzyme inhibitors, increases the nutritional content, and takes away that bitter taste. Those sprout tops you can buy for mason jars work great, and it only takes a few days to sprout even large nuts.

I like to soak my seeds in whey water (add a tablespoon of whey from yogurt or kefir, {which is the liquid component that can be removed from any type of fermented dairy by use of a very fine sieve} to a half pint mason jar of nuts filled with water) overnight, dump the bitter-tasting brownish liquid the next morning, lay out the nuts to air dry for a day, and then when dry store in an open container in the fridge. This works well in low humidity situations.

Or we can emulate the Aztecs, who soaked their pumpkin seeds in brine and then dried them in the sun, by taking 4 cups of raw, hulled pumpkin seeds and adding them to a large bowl of water to which 2 tablespoons of sea salt and 1/4th to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional) has been added. Let sit at least 7 hours in a warm spot, drain, and spread on a stainless steel cookie sheet. Place in a warm oven (no hotter than 150 degrees) for about 12 hours or overnight, untill crisp. Better yet, use a dehydrator set at 105 degrees and you basically have dried, crispy, salty raw seeds that are easy to digest and a fabulous healthy, delicious snack food. Store the dried seeds (or nuts) in an airtight (another mason jar) container.

PS Buy your nuts as fresh as possible, and store in the fridge until needed. This is especially necessary for walnuts with their high amount of omega 3 fatty acids that so quickly go rancid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.