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Monday, 02 February 2015 22:52

How to prepare your legumes, nuts, seeds and grains

How to prepare your legumes, nuts, seeds and grains

There is a lot of conflicting information out there on whether or not you should soak your legumes, nuts, seeds and grains before consuming them. Some say there is no point and there is no reason to soak them other that decreasing their cooking time but others including myself firmly believe that you should never consume them otherwise.

Legumes, nuts, seed and grains contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which can wreak havoc on our digestive systems and our bodies. The preparation of soaking before cooking or consuming breaks down the acid and the inhibitors making it easier for us to digest. This means we can readily absorb all the beneficial nutrients from them that are locked inside without and issues. This method of soaking is referred to as 'activating' or 'sprouting'. Essentially it is triggering the germination process of the legumes, nuts, seeds and grains which would happen in nature naturally. It breaks down the barriers that they naturally have for protection so that their goodness can be released.

There are different methods, mediums and times for soaking the various legumes, nuts, seeds and grains so I'll summarise the methods and list some of the times for the more common ones.

At the end of the day there is no exact science or hard and fast rules to soaking so do your best and use this as a guide only. With so much conflicting information it is confusing and can drive you mad so do what you can with the time that you have. Any soaking is better than none at all in my book!

How to soak nuts and seeds.

You will need to soak them in warm water with 1-2 tsp of Himalayan sea salt or another natural sea salt (never table salt!) Leave them at room temperature for the desired time. The time will vary depending on the type of nut or seed so please refer to the table below. Once they have been activated you can eat them straight away or you can dehydrate them to dry them back out for storage. They are best stored in the fridge as it will keep them fresh.

How to soak grains.

Grains need to be soaked in warm water with an acidic medium. You could use such things as apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or whey. Mix 1 tbsp of your chosen medium in the water and add your grains. Leave them to soak at room temperature for the desired time. Again the time will vary depending on the type of grain that you are soaking. Please refer to the table below. An exception to leaving them at room temperature would be if you were soaking oats in milk for example, for your breakfast then you will need to refrigerate it. Once they have been soaked drain and rinse and cook as normal, but remember that the cooking time will decrease due to the fact that they would have already absorbed water.

How to soak beans.

There are different theories regarding soaking beans. Some say to use an acidic medium in the soaking water, others say to use a little natural salt but some say that it makes no difference or can cause the beans outer skins to go hard. I simply used plain hot water! They are soaking for a very long time and I find that the hot water does the job just fine. Beans generally need to be soaked for a long time so it is necessary to drain and refresh the water during the soaking process. If the beans require soaking for 24 hours you would probably need to change the water 3-4 times. To soak the beans simply put them in a container and cover them with hot water and leave at room temperature for the desired time. Refer to the table below. Once soaked cook for 30-45 minutes or until soft. Cooked beans can be packed and frozen for future use so I always fine it better to do a large batch at a time so they are always there.

Soak time (hrs)


  • Adzuki Beans 24
  • Black Beans 24
  • Chickpeas 24
  • Lentils green and red* 2
  • Kidney Beans 24
  • Cannellini Beans 24


  • Almonds 12-18
  • Pecans 12-18
  • Walnuts 12-18
  • Cashews** 4-6
  • Macadamias** 2-4


  • Pepitas 6-8
  • Sunflower Seeds 6-8
  • Linseeds (Flaxseeds) 2


  • Barley 18
  • Buckwheat 8
  • Millet 18
  • Oats, rolled or steel cut 12
  • Quinoa 4-6
  • Basmati rice 18-24
  • Brown rice 18-24
  • Burghal Wheat 24
  • Freekeh, cracked 24

*Note: Some say that lentils don't need to be soaked as they don't contain high enough levels of the inhibitors. If you soak them to long they will get mushy, so I think a quick soak covers all bases!

** Note: Cashews and macadamia nuts do not need to be soaked for a long time. If you leave them soaking too long they will turn slimy due to their soft texture.

Well I hope this helps and makes it a little easier for you to reference. As I said before there are not specific rules about soaking, just do what you can. A little preparation will go a long way in being beneficial to your health!

Sarah Signature

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 15:18
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