Nutrient-Dense Foods and Traditional Food Processing at Three Stone Hearth
Three Stone Hearth offers the most deeply nourishing prepared foods available.
We begin with the quality of our ingredients. Our foods are prepared with organic local produce, meats, eggs and dairy products from grassfed and pasture-raised animals, slow-cooked, mineral-rich bone broths, traditional fats, activated whole grains and legumes, live probiotic flavorings and natural whole-food sweeteners.
Our commitment to nutrient-dense, healing foods goes well beyond our ingredients. The preparation, cooking and preservation techniques we use in almost every dish enhance digestibility and nutrient availability--all inspired by the practices of traditional cultures. This is what makes our foods different from almost anything out there, and gives them their unique value.
Our approach is informed by the extraordinary work of Dr. Weston A. Price, who travelled the world in the 1920s and '30s, researching the diets of healthy, long-lived peoples still untouched by modern agriculture and food processing. Dr. Price documented traditional diets from remote Scottish islands in the Hebrides to the Pacific islands, from the Inuit of the northern tundra to the Maasai plains of Africa and the native people of North and South America. His findings were forgotten in the rush of industrial, corporate food and agriculture that dominated the 20th Century, from pasteurization to the promotion of margarine, from TV dinners to "Roundup-ready" corn.
Luckily, in 1999 author and activist Sally Fallon Morell published her landmark book, Nourishing Traditions which revived Price’s work for our time and helped launch a movement. The traditional wisdom that inspired Three Stone Hearth might have been lost without these efforts.
Click here for details about our ingredient sourcing.
Click here for more information about the work and travels of Weston A. Price, and the Eleven Characteristics of Traditional Diets.
Here are some of the fundamental approaches to food preparation, inspired by traditional diets, that we practice here at Three Stone Hearth.
We gently simmer bone broths at a low temperature for an extended period of time to dissolve the collagen into gelatin. We use a high ratio of meaty bones to water so the broth is as rich as possible. It is so rich, in fact, that we use the same bones twice. The “first boil” is what we jar and sell as Bone Broth. The “second boil” is used as an ingredient in our soups, stews, and broth-based sauces. (Broths actually only come to a boil for a minute, then continue on a very low simmer.)
This is in keeping with many traditions around the world. In Scotland, for example, a meaty bone was passed from neighbor to neighbor to make broth until all of the goodness had been extracted out of it. We’ve found that the second boil beef broth contains higher levels of calcium than the first boil even though it contains less gelatin.
Historically, grains underwent important transformations before being cooked. Wheat and rye breads were fermented with a sourdough starter, which contains far more beneficial bacteria than yeasts. These bacteria predigest much of the grain and dramatically reduce levels of phytic acid, which is demineralizing to our bodies. Similarly, quickbreads, pancakes, and biscuits were made by mixing ground grains with cultured milk (e.g., “buttermilk pancakes”--yes, that's where it comes from!) and allowing the batter to culture before being cooked, which accomplishes a similar effect to soaking.
Other grains and beans were soaked before being cooked at very low temperatures. Corn was nixtimalized, meaning it was steeped and cooked in a highly alkaline solution, usually mineral lime or ash, releasing niacin and preventing deficiency diseases. Acorns, a staple of Native Americans in our region, were slowly leached in running water to remove tannins.
Here at Three Stone Hearth, we incorporate these traditional approaches to seed-foods such as grains, beans, and nuts. We culture our oats in yogurt before we make our granola. We soak brown rice in water with a small amount of activated starter taken from the last batch of rice. We nixtimalize polenta with slaked lime, use sprouted spelt flour for biscotti and other baked dishes, and culture other flours in housemade buttermilk or piima milk. Legumes are soaked or sprouted with a little baking soda before being cooked, and nuts are soaked in saltwater before being gently roasted at a low temperature.
Traditional cultures practiced culturing and lactofermentation in a nearly endless variety of ways, and regularly consumed “live culture” foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, cheese, pickles, fish sauce, miso and a wide array of fermented beverages like kombucha and kefir. These foods provided a great diversity of beneficial microorganisms to the people who consumed them, and our gut microbiota is now being extensively studied and recognized as a key to overall health.
Three Stone Hearth regularly cultures our foods using a range of “starters” or SCOBYs (symbiotic communities of bacteria and yeast). We use sauerkraut brine, yogurt and other cultured dairy as an ingredient, and we offer kombuchas, kefirs, pickles, krauts and other probiotic foods on our menu every week.
Traditional diets were generally not low-fat, and recent research confirms that the emphasis on fat reduction promoted by many modern nutritional paradigms has been woefully misinformed. The quality of fat consumed, on the other hand, is extremely important. Traditional peoples relied on fats that were high in super-stable saturated fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fatty acids were minimized, and when they were consumed, tended towards a balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
At Three Stone Hearth, we make liberal use of traditional fats such as butter and ghee (from grassfed cows), cold-pressed virgin coconut and olive oils, and housemade lard from pasture-raised hogs. We assiduously avoid modern vegetable oils such as soy, corn and canola, which, while less expensive, oxidize and go rancid quickly, and do not provide the nutrition we need from fats. We source pasture-based meat, eggs and dairy, which have a superior balance of Omega 3s and 6s, and we offer a range of tinned fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon--known for their high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Pastured pork is a very sustainable meat, as it can be raised locally without large expanses of fresh grasses. Hogs can consume many foods that would otherwise be waste, or at best compost, turning them into valuable fat and meat.
Traditional cultures that relied on pork generally salted or brined or marinated it before smoking or cooking it. Recent experiments looking at the live blood analysis of people after consuming pork prepared in a variety of ways show that pork that is salted, brined, or marinated before cooking appears to be much healthier for us. At Three Stone Hearth, we always take that extra step of salting, brining, or marinating pork before cooking it, or before freezing it into raw patties or meatloaves intended for later cooking.
When traditional peoples harvested animals, the parts they valued the most were the organ meats, the bones, and the fats. Muscle meats (so popular in our industrial society) were not usually the main attraction, and liver was especially valued. We know that liver is extremely high in nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, as well as minerals such as copper and iron. It does not (as some people fear) store toxins, it just processes them. At Three Stone Hearth, we go out of our way to incorporate liver into our offerings. We add it to all of our ground meat dishes (patties, ragus, pies, meatball soups, and meatloaves) and also feature it in liver pates, which we make on a regular basis. Stay tuned for other organ meats to make appearances in our dishes, too!
Most of our foods are salted to taste using Celtic sea salt, which is high in minerals and electrolytes, and supports proper adrenal, immune and thyroid function. It is harvested using traditional methods that preserve its integrity, energy, and mineral content. It is the salt we use to culture pickles and cabbage for sauerkraut, and to salt all our cooked foods (with the exception of our bone broths, which are jarred just as they are).
We are coming to learn more and more how much processed sugars (and starches that quickly convert to sugars in our bodies) are damaging our health and throwing us deeply out of balance. Nevertheless, there is a place for sweets in traditional diets. Whole sweeteners like honey, palm sugar, maple syrup and dried fruits break down more gradually in our bodies than cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, and they contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals. These are the sweeteners you will find in our baked goods, desserts, and sweet treats, generally combined with nutrient-dense traditional fats which slow down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream.
Some of our fermented beverages do start with minimally processed cane sugar, but only to feed the beneficial microorganisms, which break down the sugars as they multiply and the beverages ferment, developing into delicately balanced, artisanal probiotic soft drinks.
Our ancestors on every continent had discovered a range of healing plants that were especially nutrient- dense, or contained special properties for balancing health. Many of these were eaten often as foods or cultured into beverages. We do the same here! We seek out plants that have been prized by herbalists or are used by naturopaths and incorporate them into our foods and beverages on a regular basis. Some stellar examples include the turmeric-black pepper synergy in our Golden Blend, the green power in our Chloro-full Powder, and the traditional spice combinations in many of our other foods.