Almonds are the most delicious (in my humble opinion) when they have been dry roasted, but soaked raw almonds are the most nutritious. Soaking almonds also make them easier to digest, especially for young children and people over 51.
The Benefits of Removing Almond Skin
Almonds contain a protease inhibitor in their brown skin that protects it until the proper levels of sunlight and moisture allow it to germinate. Most plants develop these inhibitors to protect themselves against insects. That is why eating almonds without removing the inhibitor limits the nutrients your body can absorb and makes the almond difficult to digest.
By soaking almonds, you provide the moisture that makes the almond shed its skin and release its enzymes. This not only gives you access to all of the almond’s nutrients, but the released enzymes help your digestive system break down those nutrients for easier absorption and use by the body.
Almonds are full of enzymes in their raw, natural state. But if almonds have been roasted, or pasteurized to extend their shelf life, their enzymes have been destroyed. So, there is no point in soaking processed almonds. The enzymes you are attempting to release are gone.
However, soaking almonds does more than make them easier to digest and increase the number of nutrients your body can absorb. It also changes the texture of the almond and makes them easier to chew. This is of particular benefit to young children and seniors, who should avoid hard to chew foods, as they can be a choking hazard for these age groups.
How to Soak Almonds
You will need:
- raw almonds (organic, if possible)
- filtered or distilled water
- large bowl
Place the almonds in the bowl and cover them with 2 cups of water per 1/2 cup of almonds. Soak the almonds overnight, then drain and store them in the refrigerator using plastic bags or jars.
Almonds will remain fresh for up to one week after soaking with proper storage.
The benefits of almonds can be unlocked further by taking soaking to the next level and actually sprouting your nuts. Sprouted almonds are softer, moister and sweeter, as well as being even easier to digest.
How to Sprout Almonds
To sprout almonds, soak your almonds overnight for 10 to 12 hours, rinse and place them in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. It generally takes between one and three days for the almonds to sprout and you can expect a 1/8-inch or 3mm sprout to grow.
Sprouting almonds is also the only way to release lipase, an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of fats in the body.
Finding Raw Almonds to Soak and Sprout
You may have noticed that it is currently more difficult to buy truly raw almonds if you live in the United States. The issue started in 2001, with a Salmonella poisoning outbreak in Canada that was traced back to a California almond grower. When a second round of Salmonella poisoning occurred with a different almond farmer the government stepped in.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), together with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California Almond Board, and other agencies drafted legislation designed to prevent further Salmonella outbreaks based on post-harvest processing of almonds.”1
Now, you can only buy true raw almonds in the United States if you buy them directly from farmers at local markets, in amounts that do not exceed 100 pounds. All other “raw almonds” sold in the US must be pasteurized, either with steam or treated with propylene oxide gas (organic almonds are not treated with this substance).
Keep in mind, steam-pasteurized almonds can still sprout. And the ability to sprout indicates that a seed is still vital and alive. So, don’t worry if you don’t have access to farmers and their 100% raw almonds.
1 “Is it true that raw almonds must now be pasteurized? If so, what are the health implications of this new requirement?” The World’s Healthiest Foods, n.d. Web. October 2016
Aniys, Agiyl. “Benefits of Soaking Almonds – Should I Soak Almonds?” Natural Life Energy, April 25, 2013. Web. October 2016
“Raw Nuts & Seeds High in Enzymes”. SF Gate, n.d. Web. October 2016
Earvolino, Patrick. “Almond Pasteurization”. Natural Grocers, n.d. Web. October 2016