In our family we will usually soak chia seeds before eating them. It’s usually a strange concept to most of our friends or family who see it, but this is something we’ve been doing for some time now. It really isn’t too hard to learn how to soak chia seeds. In this post I’ll share with you how we’ve been soaking chia seeds and for how long.
First, let’s look at chia seeds and what they are for anyone who may not know.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are the seeds from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica. They’ve increased in popularity in recent times as a superfood with many benefits. Salvia Hispanica is a member of the mint family. Its seed is the “chia” seed as we know it and buy it. Chia seeds are believed to have first been used by the Aztecs in Central America. They were used there for natural healing, and to increase strength and stamina of the warriors.
“Chia” actually means strength in the Mayan language and runners and warriors would use them for endurance. It has a related plant, the golden chia, that was used by Native Americans in the Southwest United States. Chia seeds are native to areas in Mexico and Guatemala, and are mostly cultivated in North and South America.
Why Eat Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants. They are also high in vitamins and minerals, have a complete protein profile, are extremely high in fiber, and contain good for us Omega-3s. First of all, antioxidants are super beneficial for us in fighting things like disease and cancer. Second, fiber is also very good for our bodies, and something that many Americans don’t get nearly enough of in their daily diet. Third, most people also tend to not get enough healthy Omega-3s.
Diets rich in fried foods tend to be much lower in Omega-3s, while being much higher in Omega-6s. Not that Omega-6s are bad, but we need a balance and we need plenty of Omega-3s in our diet. That’s why chia seeds are so good for us, and are super easy to eat or add to our current foods.
Also, research has found that Chia Seeds might be good in preventing heart risk factors by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Additional resource: Benefits of chia seeds
How to Eat Chia Seeds?
You could just eat chia seeds raw, sprinkled on top of your breakfast bowl or other food. But, it’s much easier to eat them once they’ve been soaked first. Chia seeds can soak up to 27 times their weight in water. I won’t get into the details, but when you soak chia seeds in water or another liquid, it creates a gel like substance. (You have to try, it is very strange at first!) They almost resemble little fish eggs, but don’t worry, they are tasteless and odorless.
See What do Chia Seeds Taste Like? for more on their taste.
Some people claim that chia seeds, or any nuts are healthier once soaked. I won’t get into all the details, but it’s hard to say one way or another. Soaking is supposed to remove phytic acid from the plants and make them more easily digested in the body. As far as chia seeds go, I think they are just much easier to eat after being soaked anyway. The reason being, if you eat them dry, them tend to stick to your gums and teeth afterwards, causing a slightly unpleasant feeling.
How to Soak Chia Seeds
How to Soak Chia Seeds in Water or Almond Milk
Prep Time 5 minutes
Prepare Chia Seeds and Mug or Bowl
Get a mug or a bowl and some raw chia seeds. If you are planning to soak a larger amount, then you will need a large coffee mug.
Fill Mug or Bowl with Raw Chia Seeds
The size of the bowl or mug will determine how much chia seeds you use here. Generally I will fill a large coffee mug up about 1/4 of the way with raw chia seeds. I use a large coffee mug in which I use about 5-6 tablespoons for this.
Add Water or Plant-based Milk
Next, add either water or a plant-based milk such as almond milk or coconut milk to the cup or bowl. Fill it till it is close to the top. Some of the chia seeds should float, and some should be under the liquid at this point. The ratio is generally about 6:1 water to chia seeds. But this can be more or less depending on your preference.
Stir the Mixture with a Spoon
Stir the chia seeds and water together with a spoon so that they mix together.
Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
Stir Mixture Again
After the 15 minutes, stir the mixture a second time. At this point the chia seeds will have started to form a gel, but it will still be slightly clumpy. You can eat the chia seeds if needed, but it’s best to allow them to sit at least a couple of hours, and preferably overnight. This allows the mixture to continue to gel and will create a more consistent mixture that is not clumpy.
Cover and Set in the Fridge Overnight
Cover the soaked chia seeds by placing plastic wrap over the top of the mug or bowl. Set in the fridge overnight to complete the gelling process.
The chia seeds should be soaked and ready to eat and will have made a consistent gel. You can add them to oatmeal or cereal, or add fruit and them as is.
Summary of How to Soak Chia Seeds
So, how to soak chia seeds before eating? Here’s what I do to soak chia seeds in water or coconut milk before eating.
I take a very large coffee mug, but a bowl would work as well. I fill it about 1/4 of the way with chia seeds. In my case I use 5 tablespoons of chia seeds, but you might do more or less depending on the size of your container, or the consistency you might like. I then just fill the mug up with water, with the chia seeds in it. I fill it up till it gets close to the top. The ratio is about 6:1, water to chia seeds. That means, for every tablespoon of chia seeds, you use 6 tablespoons of water.
Then I stir with a spoon. Now for the waiting. Let it sit for a little bit, maybe 15 minutes or so. Then stir it again and place in the refrigerator.
Just remember, if the chia seed gel is too thick for you, you can use less chia seeds or more water to thin it out. Just experiment and see what you like.
Here’s another way that I’ve heard used to soak chia seeds. Put the chia seeds in a mason jar instead of a mug or bowl, add the water, then put a lid on and shake. This mixes the chia seeds and water without having to stir. After waiting for about 15 minutes, you can shake one more time.
Below is a quick video I made showing the process of soaking chia seeds in water.
How Long to Soak Chia Seeds?
If you are in an absolute hurry, you can soak chia seeds in as little as 15-20 minutes or so before you start to get the chia seed gel. But, it won’t be as good as if you leave it longer. And, it will still be clumpy. Ideally aim for a couple of hours.
The best way I have found to do it is to leave it overnight. You can leave it overnight on the counter, or place in the fridge if you prefer. After it has created the gel, you can then place it in the refrigerator, and it will stay good for up to 5 days, quite possibly even longer. (But I wouldn’t push it too much) Because it will last this long, I make enough to last us a couple of days before I need to make a new cup of soaked chia seeds.
How Long Do Soaked Chia Seeds Last?
Soaked Chia Seeds will generally last up to 5 days or even a week with no problems at all. I’ve never had problems with soaked chia seeds after a couple of days.
Some have claimed to be able to go longer, up to 2 to 3 weeks, but I wouldn’t recommend saving them for too long of time. Since they are so easy to make, you can just make a fresh batch every couple of days when you need them. Just prepare enough at a time that you know will last a couple of days, then make a fresh batch when it runs out. You don’t need to make a super big batch of it and try to make it last for weeks.
Also, I’ve always put the chia seeds in the refrigerator uncovered, and they have always been fine. I have read elsewhere that you should cover them to prevent any kind of growth. So you might want to consider covering them if you want to be safe.
Do I Need to Soak Chia Seeds Before Eating?
You don’t need to soak chia seeds before eating and it isn’t required. Chia seeds can be eaten dry and will still have excellent health benefits. I prefer to soak them because they are much easier to eat when they are soaked and have made their gel like substance. Otherwise, chia seeds can be very dry and also get stuck in your teeth. There are also claims that soaking them is more beneficial to their health benefits and helps to break down the natural phytic acid.
Do I Need to Soak Chia Seeds in Water?
No, there are other liquids you can soak chia seeds in besides just plain water. Almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk are alternative choices to water. This will give the soaked chia seeds a little more flavor by doing this, which some people might prefer, especially if you are adding it to a morning bowl of oatmeal. Another thing, if you soak the chia seeds in one of these plant based milks and add another ingredient or two, you will create something called Chia Seed Pudding.
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding is basically chia seeds mixed in a plant based milk, with usually honey or maple syrup added. You can add other flavors from there as well, such as strawberries or chocolate, depending on what flavor pudding you like.
Here’s a simple 3 ingredient chia seed pudding.
Or, here’s a chia seed pudding recipe with a couple more ingredients.
Soaked Chia Seed Smoothie
I found this recipe for a smoothie which will naturally soak the chia seeds. It’s called a Green Chia Smoothie.
In a blender, put in 2 cups of spinach, 1.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 cup of strawberries, a peeled orange, and a cup of frozen blueberries. Since the chia seeds will be in the liquid from the water, they should naturally become soaked chia seeds. I would recommend allowing at least 15 minutes after making the smoothie before drinking, to allow the chia seeds time to become soaked.
Can I Soak Chia Seeds in Hot Water?
You can soak chia seeds in hot or cold water, just make sure that it is clean purified water, the same that you would drink. You will be consuming the water along with the chia seeds.
Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Milk?
You can, but as vegan or plant based, we recommend soaking in a plant based milk such as almond milk or soy milk. Dairy can carry negative effects to the health due to casein, as Dr. Campbell found in the China Study. See WFPBD Meaning and Ultimate Guide or Whole Food Plant Based Diet No Oil Guide.
Can You Soak Chia Seeds in Yogurt?
You can mix chia seeds into yogurt but we don’t recommend it since we are vegan and plant-based, and dairy causes adverse health effects due to casein, as Dr. Campbell found in the China Study.