Juniper ash in Native American recipes?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Yesterday I bought an old church type cookbook full of Native American recipes and many of them call for juniper ash. Naturally I am intrigued. Did it have medicinal properties or is it just for taste? Anyone know?


Here is one page from it. I think these would be some awesome recipes to adapt. https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/p480x480/407404_3180017019895_1249750818_33467221_313534605_n.jpg

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3 Answers


on January 25, 2012
at 11:02 PM

"adding ash in your cooking water with corn...infuses the kernels of corn with calcium and trace minerals, makes niacin more available, protein more digestible and alters the amino acid balance of the protein to increase its quality and nutritional power."

from The Wild and Wacky World of Chef Mike

It's similar to the way hominy was made with lye in the old days, using an alkaline solution to disolve the hulls. Apparently pellagra, a niacin deficiency disease, was apparently widespread in the American south in the '20s and '30s. If only they had adopted the traditional practices regarding a native food source. It lends a lot of credence to Michael Pollan's view towards the value of the wisdom that has endured through the ages about food. Without knowing the specific mechanisms people throughout time have found ways to achieve optimum nutrion from the foods available to them.



on January 25, 2012
at 01:41 PM

Apparently, it is quite rich in mineral content.



"Blue corn meal mush with juniper ash... has 802 mg of calcium in one cup, compared to 2.4 mg of the same amount without ash."


on March 14, 2013
at 01:03 AM

Wow, this is so funny. I was traveling around Navajo Nation for work last week and had the opportunity to eat blue corn mush. I was wondering the whole time, "Is this Paleo?" Corn, I know, but when in Kansas (or Navajo Nation as the case may be)... The Indian fry bread I was scooping it up with definitely wasn't, but again, see above. I just decided to look up "Juniper ash" and landed here, one of my regular haunts. Thank goodness I brought my own homemade jerky, mac nuts, carrots, and apples because the Paleo pickings were slim on the road. The Native American diet from the past was probably the paleo ideal, but it sure ain't that now.

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