Nuts contain a digestive-enzyme inhibitor. This allows nuts to travel via birds and animals; swallowed whole then not digested. More likely than not, they are carried away from the tree on which they grew and deposited in a nice pile of fertilizer with the potential to grow into a new tree. When moisture in the soil neutralizes the digestive-enzyme inhibitor and other phytochemicals, germination can begin. This is the tree’s survival mechanism.
Roasting nuts will destroy this digestive-enzyme inhibitor, but will also denature the healthy fats. This process creates free radicals. Other nutrients will break down as well. Soaking raw nuts destroys the digestive-inhibiting enzyme and improves taste. Nutritional value also increases since phytates, mineral-absorbing inhibitors, are rinsed away.
Cover raw nuts with water and let soak for the appropriate time indicated below. Drain, rinse, and discard water. Store in an airtight container 2-3 days placed in the refrigerator.
Soaking Times for Raw Nuts
Almonds - 8 hours
Brazil nut - 4 hours
Cashews - 3 hours
Hazelnut / Filbert - 6 hours
Pecan - 3 hours
Pistachio - 1 hour
Walnuts - 30 minutes
Others - soak 1 to 8 hours; the harder the nut, the longer the soak.
If soaking nuts overnight, they should not be soaked more than 12 hours since it will adversely affect the flavor and texture; cashews should be soaked for a maximum of 6 hours.
Dates can be soaked to improve texture by breaking down fiber. Soak 2-4 hours.