Have you seen activated almonds in the shops lately? I have – they’re starting to pop up everywhere. It’s a pretty cool name – “activated almonds” – it sounds somehow magic! And when I’ve seen price tags, I’ve wondered whether there really has been some magic involved – they’re selling for anywhere between $25 and $40 a kilo! Wow! I didn’t buy any at the time, but my curiosity was piqued, as always…
So of course I had to find out what these expensive little buggers actually were, and then set about making some of my own.
And I found out. So this is what they are. Get ready for it… they are raw almonds, which have been soaked for a few days until they sprouted, then dehydrated again using a dehydrator. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I think I am, B2!
Tutorial: How to make activated almonds at home
1. Get some raw almonds, preferably organic raw unpasteurized almonds. I went in with some friends who bought a big box of unblanched raw almonds, and the price was about $12kg.
2. Get a big plastic or stainless steel bowl. I use a big stainless steel bowl designed for commercial bread mixing, which I got at a catering shop a few years ago (catering shops are good places to go for inexpensive and hard-wearing kitchen tools).
3. Pour your almonds into the bowl. Cover the almonds well with water and pick off any random stuff (eg bits of plastic or the odd stray lentil etc) that floats to the top.
4. Rinse the almonds several times. I actually did mine an insane number of times, because I kept being fascinated by how brown the water turned! The tannins in the skin kept stained the water, and I reckon I rinsed the almonds about 10 times before the water stayed fairly clear. My main concern was to remove the polyphenol tannic acid, because polyphenols are antinutrients which can dramatically decrease the [eater’s] absorption of desirable things such as iron, zinc, phosphorus and calcium. They can also contribute to migraines in migraine-susceptible people. Not cool – so I’ll happily part with those tannins.
(If you are using raw blanched almonds, then you don’t need to worry about so many antinutrients in the nuts – in fact, many people concerned with reducing antinutrients such as polyphenols and phytic acid don’t even bother “activating” blanched almonds, since most of a nut’s antinutrients are contained in the almond’s skin. Blanched almonds will usually still sprout, though, so if you want to be extra sure of nuking those antinutrients then go right ahead and activate your skinless almonds; it can’t hurt. And they do go nice and crispy, as you will see…)
5. Cover the rinsed-off almonds with fresh water for soaking. I use filter water. Cover them well. Optional: Add a dash of something live and acidic. I can’t find any hard evidence either way that this will help neutrialise the antinutrients in nuts, but that’s what you do for grains, so I didn’t think it could hurt to add a dash. I used water kefir because I had some kicking around at the time, but you can also use milk kefir, live whey (off the top of tub-set yoghurt or leftover from making cultured cheese), kombucha, live unpasteurised apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”) or even sauerkraut juice.
7. Add some salt. Salt helps to activate the enzymes in the nut that will deactivate the enzyme inhibitors in the same nut. How much salt is necessary? I couldn’t find out an exact amount… so I a couple of tablespoons of Himalayan crystal salt. I have read that native peoples of Central America would soak their nuts by soaking them in seawater and then dehydrating them, so if you wanted to be precise you could salt the amount of water you’ve got to the same saltiness as average seawater… but I didn’t think it would matter a lot, considering I was going to soak the nuts for quite a long time to neutralise as many antinutrients as possible.
8. Soak the almonds in this liquid for about 18 hours – or more. I read in an article by Ramiel Nagel (author of Cure Tooth Decay) published in Wise Traditions that 18 hours’ soaking, then dehydrating at low temperatures and/or roasting or cooking the nuts eliminates a large proportion of the antinutrients. I did my nuts for several days, until a little sprout began to appear – just a tiny one – as it was quite fascinating to watch those almonds sprouting!
9. Dehydrate on low in a dehydrator or at the lowest setting on your oven. Until dry and crispy. This may take a while. It took a day and a half in my dehydrator, on the lowest setting which is about 35C.
10. Now you can use your nuts! I have ground some of my dehydrated nuts, which came out pretty much the same as ground roasted almond meal. I’ve also cooked them into soups, and eaten them as is. I haven’t tried roasting them yet, but when I do, I’ll update the post with my news. 🙂
Now you know how to activate almonds – it’s easy, isn’t it! – so let me know how you go when you try it. I’d love to hear from you.