The instructions work for all nuts and seeds except cashews. Cashews, which actually aren't raw when they reach us, anyway, can get slimy if soaked too long and are best limited to a 6-hour soak time. Nuts such as pecans, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, however, all process well with this technique, as do seeds of just about any kind, except flax and chia seeds, which turn gelatinous when soaked (making them great for baking, but not for straining and dehydrating).

We recommend using filtered or purified water because chemicals and contaminants in tap water (like chlorine) can interfere with the soaking and absorption process.

Makes 4 cups


  • 4 cups raw nuts or seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. whey
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste


    In a large-size glass bowl, combine the nuts, whey, sea salt and enough room-temperature water to cover the nuts by 2 inches. Stir to dissolve the salt. Cover with a lid, or plate, and set in a warm place, approximately 75 degrees, for 24 hours.

    Once the soaking is complete, set your oven or food dehydrator to 150°F. Rinse the nuts well in a colander (discard the soaking water) and spread in a single layer onto regular sheet pans or dehydrator trays with mesh inserts. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, to taste (feel free to try a few!).

    Dry in the oven, or dehydrator, for 12 to 24 hours. Most nuts take only 12 to 15 hours, but almonds and hazelnuts almost always take at least a full 24 and up to 36 hours. The nuts are ready when they crunch nicely upon biting, with no residual moisture. Always test several nuts to ensure uniform dehydration. Store nuts in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator. Keep in mind that the high oil content of nuts requires freezing, for storage, if they are not consumed within a few days.

    From Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook (Fair Winds Press) by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost.

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