This is one of a series of articles on food written by David Murray (see the full list on the right hand sidebar).
Now, if you’ve ever sat down with a bowl of nuts and thought “I’ll just snack on these for a while – oh wait I ate them all!” then you’ve probably also had to rush to the bathroom shortly after. That is because nuts, as they come, contain a host of healthy enzymes and nutrients, but also enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors do a number on your digestive system, leaving you with that nauseous, bloated feeling. They also, as their name suggests, inhibit your body’s interaction with the enzymes.
So what do you do? You could sit and ponder with a handful of almonds, but that would lead us right back to where we started!
Or… we could activate our nuts.
If you are unfamiliar with this process, that may sound strange. Like there’s a button we can push, a switch we could flip that will magically ‘turn them on’.
Not that sort of activation. Think… volcano.
A nut contains a seed. It is a living thing. But much like a volcano, it is dormant.
The process of activation awakens the nut, bringing it back to life. The enzymes stir and break down the inhibitors, and allow the nut to sprout. After a long period of dormancy, it is alive again (and, compared to a volcano, relatively harmless).
So the inhibitors are gone, and you can now enjoy those nuts without the side-effects.
So how do we do this?
It is relatively simple. The first thing you do is buy raw nuts (although some nuts can’t be obtained raw). Then, you soak them in salt water. The amount of salt varies from nut to nut, but generally speaking it can be done ‘overnight’. Cashews need less time, no more than 6 hours. For health reasons it is best not to soak nuts too long.
After your nuts have been soaked, lay them out on a backing tray and sit them in the oven. NOTE: we are not cooking them. You can’t speed up the process with a higher heat. Don’t even try it.
Put your oven on the lowest setting, and let your nuts dry for 12-24 hours. (I said this was easy, not quick. Remember you are making something, and that takes care and patience.)
Check on them when you can, and make sure they are dry before you enjoy them. And I mean 100% sure. If they still have some moistness, they can grow mould. They are alive now, remember? Living things grow.
So you’re sure they are dry. You put them in a sealed container. You open that container. You eat them.
Give it a try!