Bone broth, fish stock, vegetable and herbal broth
Q: Why does bone broth in a clay pot take less time?
A: Bone broths that take 12-24 hours in stainless or a slow cooker can be done in 3-4 hours in an MEC clay pot – because of the far infrared heat.
According to the directions of another brand of clay pot, chicken broth takes 12 hours – this means the infrared heat is not as strong as MECs.
Q: I thought that a boil meant that the food is cooked, so why do I boil bones for 15-30 minutes?
A: Usually a boil means that food is cooked. In the case of animal bones, nutrients are still being extracted and the additional boil time makes the end product more nutritious.
Q: In a metal pot, the broth is not suppose to go above a very gentle simmer. Why can broth be allowed to boil in a clay pot?
A: With metal cookware, instructions say to bring broth up to a boil, and immediately turn it down to a gentle simmer. This is because the near infrared heat is very destructive, and it needs to be turned down as to not destroy nutrients.
With clay the far infrared heat which brings the pot to a boil does not destroy nutrients, so the broth can remain at a boil with no problem.
Q: Why don’t you need to add an acid to help draw minerals out of the bones?
A: MEC’s far infrared heat penetrates deep and can draw the minerals out. It draws the minerals out much better than acids such as apple cider vinegar.
Q: Should I cook rice, grains, soups, etc. using canned/packaged broth broth as the liquid?
A: Canned/packaged broth is unhealthy, Miriam says to skip it and just add water instead. Many recipes call for added broth instead of water. With metal pots you need the added flavor. Not so with clay.
Q: What is the simplest (and freshest) way to make broths?
A: Broth can be made as part of your cooking process.
- Add broken off fibrous asparagus stems to cooking water and cook until very tender. Remove the stems and add grains or soup ingredients.
- Add lots of vegetables to your pot. The pot will naturally make the broth for you.
- Add a chicken foot or bone to a dish you are already cooking. If the cooking time is short, perhaps you want to start cooking the bone before other ingredients are added.
Q: Since you’re recommending broth as part of the cooking process, do you ever recommend making broth by itself?
A: Yes, when you want to take the broth as a drink – possibly when someone is not feeling well.
Beans, lentils, peas
- Wash the lentils thoroughly in 1-2 changes of water.
- Soak lentils for an adequate time based on the type selected for use. See Cooking Healthy Beans & Lentils: Different Types, Cooking time, Nutritional Value & Taste (MEC). Miriam comments that she finds that most lentils and beans do not require presoaking – even for those with digestive issues (because the far infrared heat cooking the lentils and beans is very different). However, it will not hurt to soak for 30-60 minutes and discard soaking water.
- Lentil/water ratio.
- One cup of lentils to 2-3 cups of water.
- Or, place the lentils in the pot, cover with water so that the water level is up to your 2nd knuckle.
- Beans & lentils are not usually cooked by themselves. For every cup of lentils, the pot might contain – 1 t. cumin, 1 medium onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 t. turmeric, 1/2 dried red chili, 2 t. coriander power.
- Some lentils can be cooked with rice – those that require the same cooking time.
- Cook on medium heat until the water is boiling – cooking times differs based on the kind of lentils used.
- Let bubble for 10 minutes then turn to medium-low to finish cooking. The medium-low heat at the end allows the beans to soften.
- Add sea salt 5-7 minutes before turning stove off – add half as much as what might be needed if added in the beginning. Unlike with metal pots, the salt even if added in the end gets well incorporated. It’s better to add in the end so the skin of the beans doesn’t get hard.
- Test for doneness. If the lentils/beans mash with light pressure using a wooden spoon against the wall of the pot, the lentils are done.
- The water left from cooking the beans does not need to be discarded to prevent beans from causing flatulence like it does in a metal pot. You can use the remaining water for soups, stews or curries. See Not so when cooked in clay (MEC).
- Beans & lentils are garnished with something like cilantro.
- Cooking beans in pure-clay helps to prevent flatulence.
- Soaking is not always necessary because clay clay cookware has a deeper penetrating heat.
- Try cooking whole & non-whole grain (split) lentils or legumes together. Split lentils and legumes make the dish creamier. Whole lentils and legumes make the recipe healthier and increase fiber content. The far infrared heat cooks both types to a perfect consistency.
- Most lentils cook in about the same time or less than it takes to cook in a metal pot, all in medium heat or less!
- If beans take 40 minutes in a pressure cooker, they will take about 60 minutes in a clay pot.
Benefits of far infrared heat
- Does not move the food around in the pot too much, and thus prevents bean from getting mushy.
- Moves in even, tight concentric circles because of the way the pot was shaped and thus evenly & thoroughly cooks your food.
Cakes and quick breads
- See how to use clay in an oven.
- Grease the inside of the pot with a healthy vegetable oil such as coconut, sesame, or olive. Do not use butter, it cooks into the pot and does not provide a good non-stick barrier.
- Dust a light coating of flour on top of the oil before adding the batter.
- Cover the pot. You can crack the lid towards the end of cooking for some browning.
The most delicious poached eggs I’ve ever made have been in a clay pot. Also, the poached eggs stay more in tact when cooked in a clay pot.
- Put about 3″ of water in pot.
- Cover pot and bring water to a rapid boil.
- Break each egg into a small bowl and gently pour the egg into the boiling water.
- Lower heat or turn heat off.
- Cover and cook eggs 4-5 minutes.
- Best to remove eggs with a slotted spoon.
Use cold, very fresh eggs. Fresh eggs have tighter whites and you’ll get more of a spherical shape.
Optional: Some people break their eggs into a strainer first to drain off the loose liquid portion that creates the feathering when added to boiling water.
Optional: For 1-2 eggs, you can stir to create a vortex before pouring the eggs into the water. When you pour the eggs into the water, pour them into the center of the vortex.
Hard boiled (steamed)
Hard boiled eggs turn out better with the far infrared heat of MEC pots. They are super moist and tasty. Even thought far infrared heat cooks from the inside out, the yolks are moist and definitely not overdone. Also, the shell is much easier to peel.
- Put 1″ of water in pot.
- Place egg in pot and cover.
- Cook for ~7-10 minutes on medium heat.
Scrambled with vegetables
- Cook veggies first.
- Clear some space in the center of the vegetables.
- Crack the eggs into this space.
- Cook for ~5 minutes on low with lid on.
- Scramble (stir) everything together.
- Turn stove off and let rest for a few minutes.
I do not have “sticking” problems with clay, except for eggs. I’m still working on my technique. Miriam tells me overcooks eggs often stick.
Easy to digest foods are good for our bodies even if we are not sick, they allow our bodies to focus on repair and other functions.
The web recipe below is easy and tasty, it reminds me of a frittata (an easy dish to make at the last minute with whatever vegetables you have on hand). On my gas stove, I always use a diffuser with this recipe and keep the heat to around 3. I find if I go higher (or cook my eggs to long), the eggs will stick to my pot. Don’t worry about adding so much water to the eggs mixture, it really does turn out fine in clay.
Fermented dairy & dairy substitutes (yogurt, kefir)
See Easy Homemade Yogurt for instructions on how to make yogurt. It contains general yogurt making information and well as clay pot specific information.
Fermented vegetables (saurkraut, kimchi, beets)
Cover the pot with a damp piece of cheesecloth. If the cheese cloth has a loose weave, use it double thickness. The purpose of the cheese cloth is to restrict the air flow.
Fermented grains, beans, & beverages (dosa, idli, natto, tempeh, water kefir, kombucha, etc.)
- Clay results in a better and faster ferment.
- The far infra-red heat of clay can be used to cook idlis which are placed in a stainless steamer inside the clay pot.
General fermentation instructions:
- Add ingredients.
- Cover with lid.
Miriam’s dosa batter rises better (and faster) in clay.
Idli cooking instructions:
- Pour the fermented rice/bean batter into the molds in a stainless steel idli rack.
- Place the rack inside a clay pot and steam.
The idlis will be noticeably softer than when cooked in a stainless pot.
Fish and seafood
Normally frozen seafood packages say to thaw contents before using. If not thawed first, uneven cooking will result – outside overdone, interior underdone.
Thawing first is not necessary when cooking with clay and infrared heat.
Ex: If using shrimp in a recipe and the shrimp is frozen, don’t bother to thaw, just add it frozen – that is what I did in the dish pictured here. Everything cooked together beautifully in 30 minutes. If my shrimp had been room temperature, I would have added them the last 15 minutes of cooking.
As an aside, solar oven directions also say it is not necessary to thaw frozen foods before adding them. The heat produced by a solar oven is somewhat similar to clay – it’s very gentle.
- Steam clean pot to remove residues if not using a dedicated dairy clay pot.
- Heat butter gently on stove until separated.
- Skim skum off of the top.
- Strain liquid – use a double thickness of cheese cloth or a very fine strainer. When straining, don’t include the solids at the bottom of the clay pot.
- Pour solids at the bottom of the clay pot into a tall glass. The solids will sink to the bottom of the glass and a little bit of usable ghee will remain on top.
- I’ll make ghee when my yogurt pot is empty. Then when I’m done making ghee, I’ll make another pot of yogurt.
- I get more impurities rising to the top when I use clay instead of metals.
Be sure to use a fully seasoned pot.
Can cook on the stove or in the oven. If using the oven, know the rules for cooking in an oven.
Why clay is so beneficial
Traditionally, meats have to be seared on high heat to break down the tough connective tissue (collagen). Far-infrared heat cooks the meats perfectly – without burning (and charring).
Meats turn out tender and moist without marinating.
Oven or stove top?
Whole chunk of meat (where there is at least 2″ of thickness), then oven might be better. The oven cooks from all sides, including the top of the pot. The oven produces a dryer heat than the stove top.
Something like a curry is best cooked on the store.
If roasting a turkey where the lid doesn’t fit on the pot, it’s best to roast uncovered in the oven.
General oven cooking recipe:
- Add 1/2 cup of water, some vegetables (carrots, beans, potatoes etc.,) then add meat on top
- Set oven to 250 and place pot inside the oven.
- After 10 minutes raise heat to 400 and continues cooking.
- If browning is desired, crack lid during last 10 minutes of cooking.
With stainless, you need to add a lot of water to pasta so it won’t stick together. You can do this with clay, but it is not necessary.
- Add extra water
- Add pasta to a pot full of water on the stove (don’t wait for the water to boil).
- Cover and let it cook.
- Check the pot in 20-25 minutes.
- Strain the water out if there’s any excess water. Straining the excess water out will cause a sudden temperature change for the pot. To mitigate this, after dumping the water, add one cup of room temperature water to the clay pot to help absorb some of the heat that remains in the clay. Sometimes you will be adding extra ingredients, so no need for the water.
- Add just enough water to be incorporated in the pasta
- If you want to cook the pasta so that there is no water to dump out, the pasta:water ratio is about 1:2. If that’s hard to figure out, just submerge the pasta in water – sometimes it’s best to have the water cover the paste by one knuckle.
- You have the option of cooking vegetables along with your pasta.
Testing pasta for doneness
Using a fork, press the pasta against the wall of the pot to check if it’s cooked. If it’s not cooked give it a few more minutes, check again in a few minutes and turn the stove off when the pasta looks like it’s almost done. Turn the stove off and give it 5 minutes and until al dente.
Combine grains of similar cooking times, or add the longer cooking grains first.
Follow the cooking instructions for rice, grains below. Porridge has more liquid than grains, congee more liquid than porridge. Congee is very easy to digest and often served to people who are ill.
Optional add-in can include:
Rice, quinoa, millet and other grains turn out exceptionally well. Since the pot is breathable it allows the excess moisture in the food to evaporate letting the rice or grains turn out soft and fluffy, each grain separate from the other.
- Rinse rice or grain to remove possible debris and starch. I pour my grain into my cooking pot, add water, swirl with my hands, and drain the water out with a strainer or use my hand as a strainer. On the outer layer of the grain are the most nutrients. Washing is a trade-off because you want these nutrients, but you don’t want the starch. However, in a clay pot, it doesn’t matter so much if you have starch. The complex carbs are preserved and this helps the starches to break down more effectively.
- Add water – ex: the ratio of rice to water is 1:2. If the pot is new, use 1/2 cup more water.
- When cooking is complete (usually about 30 minutes), let the pot sit on the stove covered for an additional 5-10 minutes. This is to allow the steam to settle.
- When I turn off the heat, I add ghee or butter, cover and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Unprocessed (not bleached, not enriched, not instant) or par-boiled rice is best.
- If you want to save energy, when the pot is 1/2 covered with simmer bubbles, you can turn off the heat and simply allow the food to finish cooking.
- When cooking grains & vegetables together, you want the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables cooked into the grains.
- Rice is best not stirred.
- There is synergy to adding butter or ghee after cooking and letting it melt in.
Required for metal cookware, but not MEC
- Soak rice or grain – this allows each grain to absorb water and therefore stick less to other grains while cooking.
- Saute rice and grains for a few minutes in vegetable oil before adding water.
Not all seaweed is a super food. Select naturally processed seaweed such as kelp, dulse, or alaria. Seaweed such as nori sheets are not very nutritious. They are too highly processed.
How to use
Often you’ll read to presoak seaweed; however, this is not necessary with the far infrared heat of clay. Simply add the seaweed at the beginning of cooking. I use a pre-cut mix of sea vegetables from Maine Seaweed.
I add 1 tsp – 1 tablespoon of sea veggies per person. I add sea vegetables to most of my dishing – rice, lentil, soup, stew, etc. Depending on the dish, others don’t even notice the addition of seaweed, but I know that I have added valuable trace minerals and anti-cancer compounds.
I’m an educator at heart, I’ve been harvesting seaweed for food and medicine for 45 years, and if we only had a couple of minutes for me to give you my best advice about seaweed (the elevator pitch, in other words), it would be, “Learn to make soup because the nutrients in seaweed are best transferred to you through hot water extracts, not cold water extracts. Those nutrients include iodine, trace minerals, and fucoidan, an anti-cancer compound. As for other methods of consuming seaweeds, such as roasting or grinding to powders, much is lost in the process. Don’t waste your time. The best way to discover seaweeds is to purchase a Variety Pack with Cookbook for $50.Larch Hanson
Why should I include seafood in my diet?
There are important health benefits to be gained from adding seaweed to our diet. Through seaweeds, the earth’s sea-blood strengthens our own sea-blood that we carry within us. As our air and water become more acidified through pollution, minerals are leached and depleted from our land fields, and they wash down to the sea, where the wild seaweeds incorporate them. When we eat seaweeds, we take these minerals back into our bodies, and these minerals help us maintain an alkaline condition in our bloodstream, which is a healthy condition, resistant to fatigue and stress.
Seaweeds have admirable qualities: they are flexible, they are tenacious, they are prolific, and they are the oldest family of plants on earth. These plants link us to the primitive vitality of the sea. They strengthen our own primitive glandular system and nervous system.
Don’t fear salt. Salt is necessary to life. If you are willing to sweat, you can move salt through you, and in the process, you will be actively creating your life and your dream from the universe-intelligent structures of the complex salts and trace elements that are available in seaweeds. Your body is an antenna, and your body can’t receive and comprehend the whole message from Universe unless it contains all the trace elements of the Universe. Quality counts more than quantity. If you eat the more complex salts of seaweeds, you will have less craving for simple junk food salt, and you will find yourself becoming more whole, satisfied and healthy.Larch Hanson, Maine Seaweed
Can seaweed help build your immunity?
90% of human immunity is called “nonspecific immunity”. We carry a salty inner ocean in our bloodstream, and most critters that crawl into us cannot live in a well-mineralized bloodstream. They become quite literally dehydrated through osmosis. The solution? Use our seaweed Soup Mix to ensure that your blood is well-mineralized.Larch Hanson
Sprouting lentils, nuts & seeds
Stews, soups, curries
- Add water, the main or base ingredients and any spices all at the same time and start cooking. Main ingredients might include potatoes, carrots, beetroots, etc.
- Start the stove on low, increase to medium in about 5-7 minutes and let it cook.
- Add fast cooking vegetables like peas, cauliflower, broccoli, etc, towards the end of the cooking time.
- It’s a good idea to let the pot gently simmer a bit towards the end of the cooking process. Perhaps 10 mins or so…
Search the Internet for “tagine recipes”. They turn out equally delicious in clay pots.
Teas and concoctions
Herbal remedies are traditionally brewed in unglazed clay – this produces a more potent brew than modern cookware.
Decoctions – made from roots and bark
- Put ingredients in pot and cover.
- Bring water to a full rolling boil. In a clay pot, the water will not come to a full rolling boil until everyone of its ingredients is cooked. (If it’s just a little boil, there is a bit more cooking to be done.)
- Continue on a full boil for 5 minutes. If you see steam coming out, it has been at a full boil for a bit too long – don’t worry, the tea will still be fine.
- Turn heat off.
Infusions – made from tender leaves and flowers
- Bring water to a full rolling boil.
- Turn heat off.
- Add ingredients and stir.
- Cover and steep for the required amount of time. The steeping time for a clay pot infusion is the same as a regular infusion.
Two step brewing – decoction plus infusion
- Make the decoction according to the above decoction instructions.
- After you turn off the heat for the decoction, add the infusion ingredients.
- Continue making the infusion according to the above infusion instructions.
- Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh – use less.
- For more delicate herbs like mint leaves, just wash and add to pot.
- For roots such as ginger, either chop, mash, or grate.
Removing the tea ingredients
- It’s not necessary, you can usually ladle tea from the middle of the pot – roots and bark will sink to the bottom, herbs and flowers will gather on the side.
- Or – use a strainer.
- Or – use an organic cotton type tea bag when you place the ingredients in the pot. When done, you can simply remove the bag – be sure to give it a good squeeze to get the last bit of liquid out.
- Make fresh each day.
- Can brew a big batch to last the entire day.
- Do not cool unused tea, best to let it sit on the counter.
- Many concoctions are best consumed hot to warm – if your concoction has cooled off, simply reheat it on the stove (warm it, but do not boil it).
If I brew a big batch of tea for the entire day, can I simply reheat the pot with the remaining tea?
At first I had second thoughts about doing this. Perhaps you are heating a water logged pot? That’s how I got into trouble with my bone broth. I made back to back batches of bone broth and was heating a water logged pot and got a crack.
Miriam explains that it is different in this case. When you reheat the tea, the pot is only 3/4 full, so there is not so much pressure. It will be fine reheating tea.
Dosing – general guidelines, depends on your situation
- Maintenance dose – one cup, 1-2 times a day.
- Therapeutic does – one cup, 3-4 times a day.
- If used medicinally, best taken away from meals – at least 45 mins before or after.
If you want to get the most use possible out of your tea ingredients, do a second brewing. The 2nd brewing in a clay pot will be more flavorful than the 2nd brewing in a stainless pot.
If making the 2nd brewing the following day, keep the tea ingredients in the refrigerator over night.
Dedicated clay tea pot
- Some people choose to have a dedicated clay tea pot – especially if they make tea every day.
- Others use an everyday cooking clay pot. If they have just made something like spicy chili, they steam clean their pot before making tea. If they forget to steam clean, their tea will not have the flavor they desire. If your pot is used for things like oatmeal, you may be able to get away without steam cleaning. As long as you keep the pot covered, pressure should build in the pot, and push any residuals in the clay further into the clay.
Make Your Own Herbal Teas (Mother Earth News)
Anti-Inflammatory Kadha/Concoction (Dr.Kalpna Ranadive video)
When vegetables cook in stainless cookware, they lose their vibrant color when done. Because of clay’s infrared heat and porous nature, vegetables will retain their vibrant color when done. To check for doneness, you can press the vegetables against the side of the pot, or do a taste test.
- Don’t use animal fat for cooking plant food.
- If you see steam coming from the pot, your vegetables are done.
- Combine vegetables with similar cook times, else account for different cooking times. For example, add potatoes and cook, then add cauliflower and cook a bit more. If you added potatoes and cauliflower at the same time, the cauliflower would remain intact, but still be too soft when the potatoes are done.
- Ghee, butter or oil can be added at the end of cooking.
Store canned tomatoes often contain unhealthy ingredients – some of which are not mentioned on the label. Miriam prefers to simply use fresh tomatoes towards the beginning of cooking.
- Add initial ingredients – they are usually chopped onions, chopped garlic or ginger, and chopped tomatoes.
- Cook covered for 5-7 minutes. You need a good amount of heat in the pot and steam to build up.
- Open the lid and smash tomatoes against the side of the pot’s walls.
- Continue with recipe.
The skins on tomatoes are considered indigestible. I know people who blanch tomatoes for a minutes and then remove their skin before cooking in stainless. This is not necessary with MEC – the skins cooked in MEC are digestible. People cooking tomatoes in MEC comment that stools no longer contain tomato skins. The same may apply to other foods you normally can’t digest – such as corn.
It’s easier to cook fresh
Food has it’s most energy/oxygen/prana/chi immediately after cooking. After 24 hours (even under refrigeration), it has lost much of this energy.
Cook right before food is to be consumed.
- If you have no time in the morning, prepare oatmeal ingredients in pot the night before, and simply add water and cook in the morning.
- If you have no time in the evening to prepare dinner, prepare vegetables and spices in the pot earlier in the day and simply add liquid ingredients and cook in the evening.
Once cooked, food kept in clay remains fresher than food kept in metals or glass.
Foods cooked together are more digestible than foods cooked separately
One pot meals can be very beneficial health wise – especially if you have weak digestion.
Less clean up
If your mornings are hurried, you can put all the dry ingredients in the pot the previous night. First thing when you wake up in the morning, add water and heat – then go about your morning routine. Warm oatmeal will be ready in about 20 minutes.
Pasta & vegetables
- add garlic (smashed & chopped?) & 2 tomatoes (cut)
- cook for 10 minutes to soften – skin??
- smash tomatoes on side to create liquid – sides of pot are a bit rough and perfect for smashing against
- add water, pasta & vegetables
Sweet potatoes, greens & whole chestnuts
Sweet potatoes & greens – top with hemp seeds after cooking
Rice, vegetables & oysters/clams/shrimp
- add 1 t. oil, 1 t. cumin, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic,1/2″ ginger (pealed) – cook 3 minutes
- add cut tomatoes – cook 5 minutes, then smash
- add veggies – cook 5-7 minutes
- add 1 cup grains on top (mix in this veggies?) -cook 20 minutes? – how does this order take stuff in?
Rice, carrots, cracked eggs (top)
Vegetables topped with cracked eggs/salmon/fish
Chicken and root veggies in oven
In order of decreasing amount
- Sunchokes (or Jerusalem artichokes)
- Chicken sausage
- Chicken breast pieces
- Watermelon radish
- A bit of cumin, caraway seeds, fennel powder, black pepper, salt
- 1/2 cup water
Baked in oven at 250 for 10mins, then up to 405 for about 50 mins
To give good flavor often a bed of potatoes, carrots, celery, onions & herbs is put into the pan first, then the meat (rubbed with salt & pepper) is laid on top. If the pan is dry, add a few tablespoons of water to 1/2 cup water. The vegetables and meat will ultimately produce more liquid.
- salt & pepper meat
- put on a bed of root vegetables
- add spices and 1/2 cup water/wine/broth
- cover & cook for ~1 hour
- crack lid 1-2″ last 10 minutes of cooking for browning
- let chicken rest about 15 minutes before carving (lid cracked?)
if the turkey is so big that lid won’t cover it, just roast the turkey the entire time uncovered.
cook time ~2.5-3 hours