Activating Nuts: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?

By Mariam Digges

Activating Nuts: Is it all it’s cracked up to be?
Experts are touting the process of activating nuts before eating them. But what exactly are the nutritional benefits, if any?

You might not have heard about this latest food trend if it wasn’t for My Kitchen Rules chef Pete Evans’ Twitter tirade last year. But turns out, Evans may have been onto something with his rant about activating almonds.

We all know the countless benefits of eating a handful of raw nuts per day; they are protein-rich (some feature up to 25 per cent protein), a great source of fibre, minerals and vitamins E, B6, folic acid and magnesium, and also contain essential fats known to lower cholesterol and coronary heart disease, as well as help maintain a healthy weight.

So, why bother ‘activating’ them if they’re already so nutrient-dense?

The process of activating nuts involves soaking them for up to 24 hours in salted water at room temperature, before rinsing and air or oven-drying them. It’s being heralded by some experts as making them easier for the body to absorb while not messing too much with their taste.

Fans of this process, including Evans, claim they are easier to digest, especially for those suffering from digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or coeliac disease.

Activating nuts is no new phenomenon; in Australia, Aborigines have been employing the process for thousands of years.

Because nuts are in fact plant seeds, soaking them sets offs the germination process, causing a natural compound called phytic acid (also found seeds, oats, rice and bran) to break down.

“Phytic acid can block the absorption of minerals by binding to them,” US nutritionist Jackie Lynch explains. “It is an issue when nuts and grains are dietary staples. Nut butters or nut flours should also be taken into account.”

As a result of this, activating nuts increases their nutritional count, which is extra beneficial for vegetarians, who rely on nuts and seeds as one of their primary sources of protein.

How to activate your nuts

Fill a large bowl with water and salt (see below for quantities). Stir until salt has dissolved. Place nuts in water – they should be fully submerged. For soaking times, refer to the below guides.

Strain nuts and rinse them under water. Spread them out evenly on a baking tray, making sure they don’t overlap. Dry nuts at low heat in the oven (no more than 65C), turning occasionally.

Drying guide:

Hazelnuts, peanuts and pine nuts:

1 teaspoon of salt per teacup of nuts

Soak 7-12 hours

Dry 12-24 hours


1 teaspoon of salt per teacup of nuts

Soak 3-6 hours

Dry 12-24 hours


1 teaspoon of salt  per cup of nuts

Soak 12-14 hours

Dry 12-24 hours

Pecans and walnuts:

Half a teaspoon of salt per cup of nuts

Soak 7-12 hours

Dry 12-24 hours


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