Years ago I was watching an episode of Dr Oz and he mentioned how many people avoid eating walnuts because of their strong bitter flavor. He then had someone in the audience who felt that way come up and try some that had been soaked–and she said they were sweet. He explained that as the walnuts are soaked they release the tannins that gives them their bitter flavor.
I had read that it’s good to soak grains, legumes, and nuts to reduce their phytates, increase their bio-availability (making them easier to digest and be absorbed), and, for soaked grains, reduce their glycemic load–but I’d never heard of tannins. So I decided to give it a try soon after and haven’t used anything but soaked walnuts ever since–they become a lovely buttery nut–HIGHLY recommend that you try this!!
It’s easy to do–especially if you have a good dehydrator–it just takes a bit of time–so I usually do this for a 3 lb bag at a time (from Costco)–and then keep them in the freezer until needed.
Begin with a big enough bowl to easily cover the walnuts with water. I will start a batch first thing in the morning. Many will say just to soak them on the counter for 4-8 hrs, drain the icky liquid and then let the nuts dry. I find I like them better if I change out the water a few times–and I’ll take pics of it as I go so you can see why I do–to me it seems to get rid of more tannins.
Once the nuts are done–the water is more clear each time (I never get it completely clear but as you can see–it’s close). I then get out my dehydrator and put the nuts onto the trays–to make sure I’m not ruining the ‘raw-ness’ of the walnuts–I keep the temperature at or below 105–a temperature referred to in lots of raw food materials.
I let them dry overnight–and see how they are doing–if they aren’t ‘crunchy’ yet – I rotate the trays and continue to dehydrate them–at most they’ll go 24 hours but usually less (it depends on how humid it is that day).
You can see that the nuts that have been soaked are much lighter in color–and if we had ‘taste-a-vision’ you could also taste the sweet buttery nut that it’s now become. Try this–you’ll like it, I’m sure!
A note about phytates–in my research I’ve found that it is true that they will reduce mineral absorption and therefore some will characterize them as an ‘antinutrient’ especially in grains and legumes. I’ve also read that they have other benefits with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties–so for now I only soak my walnuts–not all other nuts–so that I get the benefits of the decreased tannins but as I eat a variety of nuts/seeds–I am not finding any digestive issues so I am not taking the time/trouble to soak those.
Edited to add: While researching a bit for this post–there are some raw-food folks who suggest adding up to 1 Tbl mineral salt to the soaking water to help reduce the ‘inhibiting enzymes’ that are found in nuts. I haven’t found studies yet on this–but thought I’d mention it here–so if you know of any good studies, please share in the comments–thank you! And I’ll see what other benefits I can find as I research more.