Since ancient times, Western medicine has recommended the consumption of meat broths, which are rich in nutrients like proteins, for diverse ailments. From the 16th to the early 20th century, doctors used pewter pots that had a base and two airtight lids to make these broths. The pots are filled with pieces of meat and vegetables, closed tightly and placed to simmer in a water bath for several hours. The result is a highly concentrated broth that floats on the top and can be administered as a tonic.
As of the 19th century, this pot – which was now called a sustenteur – was no longer reserved solely for medical use but made its way into kitchens where broths came to play a major role. During this period, it was also nicknamed marmite américaine, for it could be used to prepare the very popular Anglo-Saxon “beef tea”, a concentrated broth made from beef, carrots, celery, bay leaf and nutmeg.