Cashews are often cited as an excellent raw food option, and they make a great snack right out of the bag. But many people also use cashews as an ingredient in a variety of dishes or may wish to roast them for a different flavor. This allows you the option of making your nuts delicious honey roasted cashews or even curry roasted cashews, as well as a variety of other options. It may seem counterintuitive to soak your nuts before you roast them, when the goal is a crunchy cashew. But some experts swear by this trick to give your cashews extra flavor, as well as helping them be more digestible. If you’re considering roasting cashews, read on to learn more about how and why soaking them first can make them even better!
Why Soaking Your Cashews Matters
Nuts, including cashews, contain a substance known as phytic acid. Also found in legumes and grains, phytic acid often binds to the minerals in the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, the minerals cannot be absorbed by the intestine and can be left bound. If this occurs in too many minerals, a mineral deficiency can occur. Soaking raw cashews prior to roasting them breaks down this phytic acid, allowing it to be absorbed properly and giving your body the minerals it needs.
In addition to phytic acid, cashews also contain a large number of enzyme inhibitors. When too many of these inhibitors are present, it can make the nut hard to digest. Soaking is a way to neutralize some of these enzymes, allowing for proper digestion when you eat the cashews. If you’ve ever noticed a heavy feeling in your stomach after eating nuts, or found nuts in your stool, these are good indicators that you are struggling to digest nuts.
There are also culinary reasons to soak cashews. If you are going to make nut butter or smoothies, soaking the cashews and then blending them wet can ease the process. But even when you are going to roast your cashews, soaking can make them much more flavorful. Soaked cashews can better absorb spices and seasonings that you use to roast them, and this process can lead to a texture that is simultaneously crunchier and easier to chew.
How to Soak Your Cashews
When you soak cashews, you will place them in a large bowl full of enough water to cover them completely. It is also critical that you salt the water, as the salt helps to neutralize the enzymes. As they soak, the cashews will swell, so you’ll want to make sure they are in a bowl large enough to accommodate this growth. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
The cashews then need to be dried. Place them in a colander to remove excess water and rinse them thoroughly to break up the remaining salt. To prevent your bulk cashews from molding, you’ll then dehydrate them. This can be done in a dehydrator, or by putting them on a baking sheet in the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven doesn’t go that low, you may be able to change the default setting. If not, you can use a temperature of 200 degrees and leave the door slightly ajar. Once the nuts are completely dried, you can use them as a base for your honey roasted cashews or another delicious recipe!
You may notice that other nuts can be soaked for much longer periods of time than the 2-3 hours we recommend. When you order raw cashews, they have always been removed from the shell they are grown in. This shell contains a caustic resin that is used in insecticides and varnishes and can even be found in poison oak, and therefore is removed early on in the processing of cashews. While the raw cashews you buy are safe, they don’t have the thick outer skin many other nuts have that need to be penetrated during soaking, which is why they can be soaked in 2-3 hours. If you’d like to soak them longer, like overnight, just make sure they’re in the refrigerator. Be cautious, though, as cashews that have been soaked too much can become bitter, slimy, and flavorless.
Whether you want to make honey roasted cashews or try unique, new vegan cashew recipes, soaking your cashews is a great way to improve the health benefits of the nut and add flavor. When you start with our high-quality raw cashews, you’re on your way to a delicious snack.