If you want to maximize the nutrients you get from nuts, soak them in distilled (or filtered) water overnight. This helps neutralize enzyme inhibitors (tannins, etc.) and phytic acid both of which affect digestion and absorption of the nutrients in seeds and nuts. It can also help reduce the amount of pesticides on them if they are not organically grown. From http://chrisbeatcancer.com/health-nuts-seeds/
Simple Soaking Directions:Place 4 cups of nuts in a bowl with enough distilled water to cover the nuts completely. Add a tablespoon of celtic sea salt. This helps the neutralize enzyme inhibitors. Different seeds and nuts have different soaking times, but the easiest rule of thumb to remember is to let them soak 7 hours (overnight). You many or may not like the taste of soggy nuts, so you’ll need to dehydrate them in a dehydrator or oven for 12-24 hours. If you do it in the oven, keep the temperature under 150 degrees and shift them around on the pan occasionally. You don’t want to roast the nuts, just dry them out. Every oven is different so it might take some experimentation to get the ideal drying time figured out. And because this is essentially a 24 hour process it makes sense to do several big batches at a time. Afterward compare the flavor of the soaked and dried nuts versus the non-soaked nuts. You might be surprised to find they taste better, depending on the nut and your taste.
One exception: Cashews should soak 6 hours or less and need to dry out quickly at 200-250 degrees or they can get funky.
The Benefits of Soaking Nuts and Seeds
- Enzyme inhibitors get neutralized.
- The amount of vitamins your body can absorb increases.
- Gluten breaks down so digestion is much easier.
- Phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of vital minerals, is reduced.
Chart of soaking times for nuts http://www.raw-food-living.com/soaking-nuts.html
Other sites such as www.veggiewave.com/soaking_chart suggests NOT soaking some nuts such as pine nuts, brazil nuts or macadamia nuts.
California Walnuts cost a fraction of manufactured nut butters. A recipe for California walnut butter can be found at www.walnuts.org
This method will remove some of the tannin from the walnut skin, and offer a more textured walnut butter.
The Nourishing Gourmet www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/07/soaking-nuts.html
A scholarly review, Dietary Tannin: Consequences and Remedies, 1990, reviews “the fact that tannins interact with dietary proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, digestive enzymes, and lower nutrient availability.” Euell Gibbons in Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Lee Allen Peterson in Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America recommend similar treatment with edible acorns:"Whole kernels, stripped of their shells and boiled in repeated changes of water until the water no longer turns brown, can be roasted and eaten as nuts or dipped in sugar syrup and eaten as candy. Dried and crushed acorns can be placed in porous bags and put through same boiling proces to remove the tannin."