Why should you soak nuts, grains and legumes?
People have been soaking nuts grains and legumes for centuries. The reasons to do so are numerous, including:
- Make them easier to digest
- Reduce phytic acid – Phytic acid inhibits the absorption of nutrients.
- Soften the outer skin of the grain
- Neutralise toxins
- To make them more nutrient-dense
Soaking Grains and Legumes
If you would like a quick reference to some important nutritional information, including a table for soaking grains as well as one for soaking nuts & seeds, check out our quick reference information section here.
Soaking and Cooking Oats
Soak oats for 20-24 hours in warm water with acid – lemon, apple cider vinegar or whey. See table below
In the morning rinse well and drain. Cook oats in a porridge. We have two recipes here: Bircher Muesli for a cold oat meal, which is great for summer and Steel Cut Oats recipe for hot oats which are great in winter.
|Grains||Acid||Soaking time||Cooking time|
|Buckwheat Groats||1 tablespoon||7 hours||3-5 minutes|
|Lentils||1 tablespoon||7-12 hours||20-30 minutes|
|Brown rice||4 tablespoons||8-12 hours||25-40 minutes|
|Kidney Beans||1 tablespoon||12 hours||boil 10 min|
simmer 40-60 min
|Quinoa||1 tablespoon||12-24 hours||10-15 minutes|
|Steel Cut Oats||1 tablespoon||20-24+ hours||3-5 minutes|
|Rolled Oats||2 tablespoons||20-24+ hours||3-5 minutes|
|Oat Groats||2 tablespoons||20-24+ hours||3-5 minutes|
|Chickpeas||2 tablespoons||24 hours||1 hour|
*the acidic medium ( apple cider vinegar, whey, kefir, or lemon juice) helps to neutralize the enzyme inhibitors (phytates)
Soaking and Cooking Lentils
Soak lentils overnight (7-12 hours) in filtered warm water (not hot) that covers the lentils. Add an acid medium such as whey, kefir or apple cider vinegar.
In the morning rinse well and drain. We have two dahl recipes that you may want to use: Digestible Dahl which is a generic dahl that includes kombu and no acid to reduce gas and Carrot Dahl which also includes kombu and no acid. Lentils are notorious for creating gas. The trick to reducing the gas is to use small or split lentils and to ensure you don’t use acid in the cooking. For example tomatoes, lemons etc and the addition of kombu (seaweed) also helps.
- soak them overnight
- when you cook the lentils, add a stick of kombu (which you remove after cooking)
- do not use acidic ingredients such as tomatoes or lemon when cooking lentils. If the recipe includes acidic ingredients add them at the very last stage of cooking, once the lentils are fully cooked.
Soaking and Cooking Quinoa
Quinoa is a complete protein so its great for vegetarians. It is also a gluten-free grain so its popular with celiacs. However, quinoa contains both phytic acid and saponins. Saponins protect the grain from pests but can taste bitter and may cause mild digestive irritation. Soaking and rinsing will remove these.
Place quinoa and 1 tablespoon of acidic medium (whey, kefir or apple cider vinegar) into a glass bowl. Cover with warm filtered water and soak for 12-24 hours. If you soak any longer than this change water after 12-24 hours.
Once you have finished soaking rinse thoroughly until the suds no longer form. The suds represent the saponins.
Place in saucepan and cover with filtered water. Add himalayan or celtic salt to taste. Simmer until the water has been absorbed which should take 12-15 minutes.
Nuts contain enzyme inhibitors as well as phytic acid. Soaking and roasting can remove these inhibitors. Soak nuts in salt water (see table below) then dry them using a dehydrator or very low oven. Unlike grains that need an acidic medium, nuts should be soaked in salt. Once the nuts are soaked they need to be dried. You can use a dehydrator or use your oven turned down very low, to 40-50 degrees for 12-24 hours (see table below)
1 cup of nuts
|Soaking Time||Drying Time|
|Cashews**||1 teaspoon||3-6 hours||12-24 hours|
|Brazil Nuts||2 teaspoon||4-6 hours||12-24 hours|
|Flaxseeds||2 teaspoon||7-8 hours||8 hours|
|Pinenuts||1 teaspoon||7-10 hours||12-24 hours|
|Pepitas||2 teaspoon||7-10 hours||12 hours|
|Sunflower Seeds||2 teaspoon||7-10 hours||12 hours|
|1 teaspoon||7-12 hours||12-24 hours|
|Macadamias||1 teaspoon||7-12 hours||12-24 hours|
|Peanuts||1 teaspoon||7-12 hours||12-24 hours|
|Pecans||1/2 teaspoon||7-12 hours||12-24 hours|
|Walnuts||1/2 teaspoon||7-12 hours||12-24 hours|
|Almonds||1 teaspoon||12-14 hours||12-24 hours|
**Cashews are susceptible to mould so they should not be soaked for more than 6 hours and should be dried rapidly in an oven at 90-120C