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Posted by: Trevor
April 2, 2014
The concept of eating bone marrow may be new to some of us, but to our ancestors it was a regular and vital part of their nutrition. It was normal for them to eat the marrow from inside the bone once they'd eaten the meat from the outside. They would also make soup from the bones, allowing the marrow and bone-minerals to slowly leach into the broth. I'm sure they found it very tasty, but they also understood there was great nutritional value hidden inside the bones of the creatures they ate.
Vertebrae, pelvic, and rib bones ("roasting bones") are specifically high in red-marrow.
Although modern food culture largely focuses on muscle-meat and has forgotten the nutritional importance of bones and marrow, some of us are starting to rediscover this ancient tradition as a valuable and delicious part of our daily diet. Thankfully, we also now have the benefit of research to confirm what our ancestors already knew: Bones and marrow are a treasure-trove of nutrition which can supercharge our health, remineralize our bodies, and stimulate our taste buds.
Not all bones are equal, though. Researchers claim that beef-cows raised exclusively outdoors on grass will have more nutrient-dense, healthier bones than grain-fed cattle from a feedlot. This probably comes as no surprise to you --- especially considering the extent to which the cow's bones act like nutrient-magnets and repositories for essential minerals. Like humans, much of the cow's health is tied directly to the health of its bones.
Not only do the bones act as amazing calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium concentrators, but they are also sources of healthy collagen/gelatin, chondroitin sulfate, vitamins A and D, vitamins K1 and K2, and various crucial amino acids. Bones offer a tremendous nutritional bounty.
But what really fascinates me about bones is this: They are the exclusive source of marrow --- a substance which is perhaps the most nutrient-dense type of fat available on the planet. Yes, marrow is primarily made up of fat. But it's very different than "muscle fat" or "kidney fat" or any other kind of fat, providing unique health benefits. And not only is bone marrow healthy, but it's delicious too.
Many folks don't realize that marrow comes in two types: red and yellow. Yellow marrow gets most of the attention amongst food enthusiasts, because it is so phenomenally tasty, easily extracted, and retains its structure so readily. It is found primarily in the center of the long leg bones of the cow. When you cook osso buco (shank steak) you are going after the yellow marrow. Yellow marrow is easy to get at, and devotees are hooked on it because of its fantastic taste.
And although I love the yellow marrow, it's the red marrow which I'm talking about in this post. The red marrow produces the nutritional and immune support which is so vital to the cow's health. In fact, when a cow is first born, its bone marrow is mostly red, and as it ages a portion of its marrow gradually converts to the yellow type. Yellow marrow is "retired" red marrow. The red marrow releases the crucial substances which allow the young cow to rapidly grow and maintain vigorous health. As it becomes an adult, it requires less red marrow, resulting in the conversion of a large percentage of its marrow to yellow. The yellow marrow contains a higher percentage of fat cells than the red, but the red marrow contains more nutritionally active substances than the yellow.
You can generally count on the flatter bones to contain more red marrow --- the pelvic bones, the vertebrae, scapulae, and ribs. Whereas the yellow marrow is found in the longer hollow bones --- primarily the leg bones. Again, red and yellow marrow are two different things, and each of them is sought-after for different reasons.
You need to roast these kind of beef bones in order to
extract the red bone marrow.
This is the result: a large quantity of "bone fat" ---
melted red bone marrow.
While the yellow marrow can be scooped-out directly from the bones and eaten, red marrow needs to be "melted" out of the bones with heat. The concept is simple: take a large quantity of red-marrow bones, and put them in a roasting pan. Bake it in the oven for three or four hours. In the bottom of the roasting pan you'll find a pool of liquid fat. A large portion of that fat is melted red marrow. You strain the fat into a measuring cup, allowing it to cool and solidify. Once it's solid (overnight) you can remove it from the measuring cup, and it's a solid cake which can be frozen or stored in the fridge.
Once the melted red bone marrow has cooled,
it begins to solidify.
Pop it out of the measuring cup, and you have a
gorgeous cake of red bone marrow.
Mmmmm... spread the red bone marrow on toast, instead of butter...
What do you do with the "red marrow" cake? All kinds of things, but the easiest is just to spread it on toast like butter. It's delicious, and unbelievably nutritious. The cake will last you for weeks if you refrigerate it.
But what about all the left-over roasted bones --- what do you do with them? Although most of the red marrow has "melted" out of the bones as they baked, the bones still contain some marrow and of course a vast amount of minerals. At this point they can be put into a slow-cooker with water and a small amount of vinegar to effectively leach the minerals. Boil for about two days, remembering to top up the water from time to time. This results in an exceptional bone-broth which has numerous uses, including drinking it as a nutritious tea. Reminder: boil the broth down so it's fairly thick. That way it will congeal once it cools because it is so high in healthy gelatin. The resulting "jello" can be used as a cooking base or added to boiling water as a tea.
|Once the "red marrow" bones are roasted, you can boil them in a slow-cooker to release the rest of the goodness.||
After a long time in the slow-cooker, we have an
incredibly-rich beef broth infused with marrow and gelatin, and a bowl of marrow-enriched beef remnants.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention one thing. We don't boil all of the bones in the slow-cooker, but rather we like to set aside some of the small thin bones once they've come out of the baking oven and just eat them as they are. That's right, crunch away on them. I'm not saying others should do this, but some of us like it. They are small enough and brittle enough. They are tasty, but the main thing is the mineralization. That's what we're after.
|The smaller red marrow bones are enjoyable to just crunch on.||
I like to make a nutritious cup of broth tea by just adding
boiling water to a spoonful of my beef "jello".
|Take the finished roasting bones and dig a hole for a shrub or tree.||This fruit tree will enjoy years and years of calcium-rich nutrition from its feast of left-over roasting bones.|
But we're still not done. Once the bone-broth is ready, the bones can be removed --- but don't throw them away. If you have a garden, simply dig a hole and pile the bones into the bottom of it. Then plant something over top of it, such as a fruit tree. As for the bowl of marrow-enriched beef remnants, there is something incredibly delicious and healthy that you can do with it.
Even though it's not Christmas right now, we can still make one of the most delicious of all traditional foods, mincemeat. Not the modern kind, mind you. We're talking about the traditional mincemeat which is high in actual meat content. Modern mincemeat doesn't contain any meat at all, and at best might contain a bit of beef suet. Yet the traditional variety contains meat, and plenty of it. When it gets closer to Christmas we'll hopefully remember to post our recipe, but in the meantime here are some pictures. And remember --- we only used organic, healthy ingredients in this (we also use our own Maple Syrup from our farm as a sweetening agent).
|Traditional mincemeat has plenty of meat in it. This batch is extra nutritious because the beef is infused with red marrow.||
I can't begin to tell you how delicious this "real"
mincemeat is. I eat it by the spoonful.
Now here is the most amazing thing. All this incredible value came from a simple 10-pound bag of relatively cheap beef bones. It's true that the bones are special bones which are high in red marrow, and from certified organic grass-only beef. That's important, because you know the bones are going to be nutritionally "clean" and extra-high in valuable nutrients. Still, the cost is incredibly low relative to the incredible nutritional value.
If you're interested in benefiting from one of the world's most important super-foods, consider buying a quantity of certified organic, grass-fed and finished "roasting marrow bones" and trying them for yourself. Bones are a natural pharmacy of healing and goodness. I believe you'll agree, they offer the most astonishing "nutrient value per dollar" of any product we carry. Order them here.
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