In these exciting, elightening and increasingly health-conscious days, there is much talk of soaking one’s nuts. I myself take great relish in the ceremony and love to eat soaked almonds, cashews or whatever other nutty treat is lurking in the kitchen cupboard – I prefer them plump and juicy anyway, bursting with natural goodness.
But why do we soak nuts?
Because, in mother nature’s clever way, they come packed with enzyme inhibitors, phytates, tannins and other not-so-friendly substances designed to keep them alive until germination. And when it rains, they germinate and grow into a plant. But away from nature, in our kitchen cupboards, it never rains, and they never release the lactobacilli and other helpful enzymes that neutralise the phytates, tannins and inhibitors. And untreated phytic acid is no fun – it can latch on to calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc and block their absorption in the gut. This we do not want.
So when we soak them, even for twenty or thirty minutes, we mimic nature, and they can happily give us their full spectrum of nutty nutritional glory. I like to put a load in some water at the start of the week and keep them in the fridge, ready for impromptu milk or recipe action. I end up throwing them into everything, and I never regret it.