Fermenting Nuts & Seeds

Almond MPL thum

Update: 7/21/16

The more and more I research on the topic of traditional seed (grains, beans, and nuts) preperation, the more I realize that it is an area of nutritional science that still has a lot of missing pieces. Some groups insist that soaking/sprouting/fermenting is the only way that these foods should ever be eaten, and other people say that eating them raw is best.

Currently I’m waiting for science to catch up, and figure out which preperation methods are worth-while. In the meantime, I soak my nuts/seeds because I think they taste better, and I soak my grains because they cook faster. However, the firm stance that I use to have toward the process (when I wrote the following article) has slightly faded.


Nuts and seeds have evolved with a very specific purpose, to protect their delicate nutrient load until it is time to sprout into a new plant. This allows raw nuts and seeds the ability to lay dormant for years, patiently waiting for the right combination of warmth and moisture to signal to them that it is time to “wake up” and start sprouting.

The good news for humans, is that the nutrient loads that these nuts and seeds contain to help them form a new plant, make them extremely nutritious when consumed.

Unfortunately for us, the different natural defenses that help protect the seed’s can also make it difficult for us to digest and properly absorb the nutrients of raw seeds and nuts. It is for this reason that nuts and seeds are often times roasted -also because roasting nuts and seeds makes them delicious. The problem is that quickly roasting raw nuts and seeds isn’t completely effective.

If you want to really increase bio-availability of all the awesomeness that nuts and seeds have to offer, there are several methods that can be used:

  • Soaking – “activating”
  • Sprouting
  • >>>>Fermenting!

 Soaking

Simply rinsing and then soaking raw nuts and seeds overnight in salt water is an easy way to make them more digestible and increase nutrient availability. By doing this you are essentially “waking up” the seed making it think it is time to start sprouting. For this reason nuts/seeds that have been soaked are often called “activated”. Another benefit of soaking nuts and seeds is that it brings out their delicious natural flavors.

If you don’t believe me, try it! Compare the flavors side by side of a handful of raw walnuts compared to a handful of soaked walnuts. Your mind will be blown, and you will never go back to your raw nut eating ways…

After they are soaked you can:

  • Drain the water and eat them!
  • Put them in an airtight container in the fridge where they should be consumed within a couple days.
  • Dehydrate the soaked seeds/nuts in a low setting oven (or even an oven with the door cracked open) or in a food dehydrator. The best way to do this is with low temperature over a long period of time. Once they are completely dry you will have nuts and seeds that can be kept in the fridge for weeks and boast all the digestive, flavorful, and nutritional benefits of being soaked.

Sprouting

Sprouting is a step beyond soaking and technically speaking, all raw nuts and seeds should be capable of sprouting, however, many have been heat treated and are incapable of sprouting -such as “raw” almonds and hazelnuts sold in the USA that are pasteurized. An easy seed to try sprouting at home -and the only ones I do on a regular basis- are sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

How-To

1. Rinse and soak seeds overnight in water.
Cover to keep bugs out

2. Drain the soaking water and rinse again.

3. Set the seeds in a way that allows for water to drain and air to flow.
The secret here is to have a way for the seeds to not sit in water, and at the same time have moderate airflow. The easiest way to do this is to buy a metal screen lid  for a mason jar made for sprouting.

4. Continue to rinse the seeds a couple times a day with fresh water.
Frequently rinsing the seeds prevents mold

5. Wait till sprouted
Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are ready after just a couple days when they first start to sprout. Other nuts and seeds take a bit longer, the specific time changes from seed to seed.

Once the sprouts are ready you can:

  • Eat them!
  • Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days
  • Dehydrate them in a low setting oven or food dehydrator
  • Roast them in the oven
    Some natural foodies would say not to do this as temperature above 105F kills the living enzymes in the seed. But roasting brings out the oils, which increases taste infinitely and  is required to make nut butters.

Fermenting

Fermenting nuts and seeds is an additional step past sprouting/soaking and can be used to create deliciously unique patés and nut “cheeses.”

How-To

I like to use this method to create “cashew cheese” as well as sunflower seed paté – however any seed/nut could be used.

1. Soak the cashews overnight
You can also sprout the seeds/nuts before moving to the next step

2. Drain and rinse the cashews

3. Blend the cashews in a food processor with:

  • Whatever herbs/spices you like
    sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno all work well!
  • *Pickle juice*
    Or juice from any lacto-fermented vegetable- See here
  • Water to get desired consistency
    If you want a dip use more water, if you want a firmer “cheese” use less

4. Put the nut/seed puree in a jar, close the lid, and leave at room temperature for 2-3 days
The lactic acid bacteria introduced via the pickle juice will go to work fermenting the seeds/nuts

5. Burp it & Stir it!
Unscrew the lid to release pressure and stir the puree a couple times a day

6. Wait till desired taste is achieved
After a few days the puree should start to smell a little funky and be bubbling up. At this point you can:

  • Move the jar to the fridge and enjoy the seed/nut “paté”
  • Hang the puree in a cheese cloth to allow the liquid to drip out to create a more firm “cheese” texture.

 

Note

Nut/seed ferments may develop strong flavors and smells, which is perfectly normal, but off putting to many people. Unlike vegetable ferments that can be enjoyed over months, once moved to the fridge these ferments should be enjoyed within a week or so before they start getting too funky.


5 Comments on Fermenting Nuts & Seeds

  1. Mary Broder // December 15, 2016 at 7:29 am //

    My name is Mary and I found your article here. I never sprouted anything before and wasn’t trying to but I just got a Nutribullet for
    juicing and put water,pumpkin,sunflower seeds,few almonds & cshews.
    I left it in the cup, put the lid on it tight and put in frig 6 days
    now. I didn’t know what I was doing really but a little does taste
    good on an apple. Do you think it somehow formed some probiotic bugs in it even though I didn’t intend it to? Should I keep it and eat
    a little bit each day or even though in a jar in frig, could it go
    bad and make me sick. I put some on an apple and it was good today.
    I’m trying to eat more vegies and seeds – health things. Should I
    pitch it or keep it? Any thoughts. Thanks. – Mary

  2. Hey Mary,

    Assuming the lid was on tight, when you opened the lid did you hear a “hiss” as air pressure was released. If so, fermentation occurred. If not, fermentation hasn’t occurred and the change in flavor could be from slight rancidity. Even if fermentation has occurred, its not necessarily favorable, as in, all types of fermentation do not result in “probiotics” or “good bugs.” Also, the sort of fermentation that is generally favorable occurs at room temp, so the sort of bacteria that proliferated at fridge temperatures would be difficult for me to guess at.

    When it comes to food, I always err on the side of caution, so in this case I would pitch it. My guess would be that it’s not likely to hurt you, but it’s also not likely to have much benefits to it.

    In the future, if you want to eat nut/seed pastes–and don’t want to mess with fermentation–do what you did, but to help preserve it: use a bit of salt, keep the consistency thick and don’t make more then you can eat within 2-3 days.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Thanks for this article.
    Do you think it is possible to do the fermentation on the full nuts, avoiding to grind them?

  4. Hey Nicolas, when it comes to fermentation Service area is critical. A lot of vegetables you can ferment whole images go slower, However with nuts I’m not sure if it worked all. With that being said I never really tried! I have thrown a handful of cashews into sauerkraut mixes, they are delicious crunchy texture, but I’m not sure the cashew is actually fermenting.

  5. I have done the same with cashew and madcadamia nuts with the juice filtered out of beaten yoghurt as I had no starter available. Could clerarly saw gas formation and after a while took them of the brine and dried overnight at ca. 70°C. The nuts are softer, kind of transparent, with an amazing structure and not sweet at all any more.
    Wanted to try this out as I am on a ketogenic diet and sometime tends to overdo it with eating nuts.
    Can not add a photo here…

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