The Science of Broth Bomb
Most people just want to know, “how do they taste?” After being cooked, they have a mild salty citrus taste… along with the flavor of the herbs and spices. The baking soda totally cooks away, becoming H2O, CO2, and sodium citrate.
We know some people are going to be unsure about using our chemistry trick to getting tender beans, which has never been used with food in this way. But it's as simple as adding baking powder to baked goods. Chefs have been using pH regulators for years, just never like this in stove-top cooking. We’re helping to make everyone a pro at cooking bean soup, stew, chili, and curry.
The fizz is made of common food pH regulators; a variety of dry powdered food grade acids and bases. Acids and bases are on opposite sides of the pH scale. These can include common food stuff like Vitamin C and calcium, to acidity regulators like baking soda and citric acid.
Keep in mind we are patent protected and have thoroughly tested and researched these products (not on animals). We are currently experimenting with adding fortified minerals and alternatives to citric acid; the formulas will change as we grow and are able to source these ingredients more easily.
We don’t make any claims of it being a cure or health aid, just that it is a safe and helps promote eating whole plant foods.
Let's first talk about citric acid. All living organisms make citric acid, even our own cells. It's a strong acid but not as strong as the acid in our stomach. This powdered acid has been used by doctors as a means to regulate gut bacteria, treating SIBO and other bacterial overgrowth. We source our citric acid from organic corn.
Baking soda, (sodium bicarbonate) is a naturally occuring compound in mineral rich waterways and deposits. It has long been used by doctors to neutralize stomach acid and to get a rise in baked goods. Consuming large amounts of baking soda can be dangerous. For instance, people who have ingested half a box of baking soda have been hospitalized and died. Although, there's doctors who eat a tiny amount everyday and swear by the stuff. We don’t recommend consuming it uncooked. Simply heating baking soda will release the CO2 and deposit the sodium into the water; citric acid accelerates this reaction.
We don't advertise our product as a health aid; only as a fun way to alter the texture and taste of plant-foods.
Our intended use for Broth Bomb™ is to interact with the food and not our guts. Baking soda helps break down acids, like protein (amino acids) and the skins of beans. It loses its alkaline properties during these interactions and becomes part of the broth.
When you drop the Broth Bomb, some of it fizzes and some ends up in the broth interacting with the food. We recommend adding it once the stew has already gotten hot and the foods have begun to open up, allowing more interaction with acids and bases.
The finished meal is mildly acidic, for taste and optimal digestion. But no baking soda remains. Instead, there is a range of more pH balanced compounds like sodium citrate, tartaric acid, and sodium ascorbate (from vit c). Although, even these compounds break down the longer you cook the meal.
Sodium citrate is what's in those things people squeeze into their water for flavor, minus the sweeteners and coloring. Sodium Citrate is in countless products people buy every day. It's a very popular natural preservative, like salt. It helps increase the shelf-life of the leftovers from the Broth Bomb recipes.
Sodium citrate has been well studied in its ability to quickly remove lactic acid during weight training type muscle activity. It should not be overconsumed but it has some health benefits in small amounts.
Now, we want to be clear that beans don't need Broth Bomb™. They're just good friends. If our product gets people to intake more whole plant foods and water, then it's a big win for public health, the environment, and farmed animals.
The only risk comes with people who misuse products by undercooking it or not using enough food. But the weird taste in these cases should turn people away from consuming their misuse. We’re not responsible for misuse; even fruits and vegetables can be misused. We have disclaimers of intended use and warnings on the packaging of the product.
These flavor enhancing ingredients also allow us to reduce the amount of table salt needed to bring out the flavors of the other foods. We try to stay around 1 mg of sodium per calorie.
Through testing we also found that Broth Bomb™ takes the bite out of the red pepper in the Drunken Lentil recipe. It also takes the bite out of the leafy greens. Picky eaters find themselves loving every single one of the dishes. We’ve been amazed by the reviews by people saying their picky eaters have never eaten so many vegetables in their whole lives. We stumbled upon something totally amazing with this invention.
Another health note, citric acid has been shown to improve mineral absorption.
People assume all citric acid comes from black mold. It's true that industry often uses the lowest cost method and mold grows fast, but citric acid is present in all living organisms. Ours is derived from organic corn.
We also plan to offer a line of non-fizzing seasoning mixes for those people who would feel better without the chemistry. We will be offering an organic line of seasoning mixes as soon as we can.
Now, I’m going to get into some deeper mechanisms and theories for the science nerds out there.
In a Broth Bomb stew, what happens is much like what happens in our own guts. We produce acids to break down the starch fibers, while we produce high pH bile to break down the protein, which are made up of amino acids. We're doing some of this in the stew, which gives it a more palatable texture, especially for people used to processed foods. It pre-digests the food, like a marinade while cooking.
If you’ll bear with me, I’m going to dive deeper into some archeological theories about biology and diet. Different from other omnivores, primates like us have become designated as frugivores. Still being territorial animals, primates kill and sometimes eat rival primates. The motivation is not to hunt, but more likely to prevent groves of fruits and nuts from being plundered. To a wild primate, the contents of the rivals’ stomachs would have been the secondary prize. They’ve been known to eat the flesh as well. Animal flesh is not well suited for the primate digestive system. Primates, even humans, never evolved to have shorter digestive tracts or dispose of dietary cholesterol like true omnivores. Our ancestors had to resort to eating animal flesh for survival, but it was never ideal for living long disease free lives.
But what may have been advantageous, even still today, is consuming those predigested plants. While not necessary or advisable today, some paleo humans may have further benefited from packing the belly of a hunted animal with barks/herbs, veggies, and hard foods like grains/nuts/seeds/tuber. Then using the animal as a sort of pot over coals/fire. Using the animals bile and acids to predigest the foods would have had advantages much like cooking, by unlocking more of the nutrients of the plants. Basically, using other animals to first process our plant foods.
As modern humans we have applied a wide range of processes, from heat to enzymes to pH chemistry, to create a great variety of foods. It’s much safer to not use animals, but rather mimic the processes with lab safe techniques made for our modern species. Unlike paleo people, we’d like to live past age 25 on average without clogged arteries, colons, and infectious bacterial diseases. While we know overly refined foods are not ideal for human health, there’s cause to consider the benefits of marginally processed plant-foods.
I tend to stick to modern science to see what’s ideal for human health, not theories on ancient people. But this natural chemical process is fascinating to explore.
Baking soda has always been a known trick for getting softer beans. Soaking them overnight with a high pH solution breaks down the tannins in the skin. No one has ever found a way to cook stews with the baking soda instead, until now.
On a side note in regard to the paleo topic, we may never know if fire was first used to cook tubers (root vegetables) or cook animals, but the leading theory is now that the access to complex carbohydrates is what fueled the human brain growth and intelligence. There’s starch genes and other evidence dating back to the early paleo periods, when most paleo human stool samples showed evidence of nothing more than a couple insects in regard to animal consumption.
We believe we found a great modern balance of cooking methods to help access more nutrients without over processing these plant foods. But we’d rather just focus on the fact they’re safe, make cooking fun, and improve the texture of plant foods for picky primates.