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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 15, 2010

Cooking with Bones

By Mark Sisson
185 Comments

Marrow is great and all, but what about the bones that aren’t blessed enough to bear the sacred gel in easily extractable amounts? We can’t forget about those. Chicken backs, beef knuckles, ham hocks, chicken feet, lamb necks, hooves and any other animal-derived matrices of calcium phosphate and collagen fibers are all worth saving, cooking, and perhaps even eating. Hell, I bet elk antlers would make a fine, mineral-rich soup. The best part is that bones, feet, hooves, heads, and connective tissues are all pretty inexpensive, sometimes even free, parts of the animal. They also represent an entirely different realm of nutritional content than basic muscle meat, being complex organs playing multiple roles in the body.

You see, bone is living tissue, rather than inert structure. It is rigid, true, but it’s actually an organ, in fact, placing it squarely in the nutritional all-star camp of liver, heart, brain, kidney, and sweetbreads. Bone is also slightly elastic, owing to the collagen, which combines with the calcium phosphate to lend “elastic rigidity.” (If it weren’t for the collagen, bones would simply be hard with no give, and thus brittle.) Bone is full of minerals, mostly calcium and phosphorus (seeing as how the “bone” part of bone is calcium phosphate, this is no surprise), along with sodium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. If the connective tissue – and most animal scraps and bones you use will have tendons, ligaments, and cartilage – is still attached, bones also include stuff like chondroitin and glucosamine, popular joint supplements that are the raw materials for bone and cartilage formation.

Let’s do a quick rundown of all the other good stuff found in bones and, therefore, well-made bone stock:

  • Bone marrow – We went over this last week, but I’ll say it again: bone marrow is one of the first “superfoods” (for lack of a better term – I actually slightly cringe using it) our ancestors enjoyed. It’s fatty, with a bit of protein and loads of minerals. Even if you’re cooking spindly chicken bones, there’s going to be marrow, and that marrow will make it into your stock.
  • Collagen and gelatin – Most commercial gelatin comes from animal collagen already, so why not cut out the middle man and get your gelatin directly from bone and cartilage? The more collagen your bones have, the more gelatinous, rich, and viscous your stock will be – important qualities, especially if you intend to reduce your stock into sauces. Gelatin may even reduce joint pain in athletes, as one (admittedly small) study appeared to show. Another showed benefits for ulcer patients.
  • Glycine – Although our bodies already produce plenty of glycine, rendering it a non-essential amino acid, there’s some evidence that supplementation can help mitigate free-radical oxidative damage in rats with alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity. Bone broth is rich in glycine. It probably doesn’t mean much, but it can’t hurt. And hey – it may even improve sleep quality, as one Japanese study showed in human subjects. Drink a warm cup of broth before bed, perhaps?
  • Proline – Proline is another non-essential amino acid found in bone stock, but supplementation has shown promise in patients suffering from vision loss due to gyrate atrophy. It’s also an important precursor for the formation of collagen, though it’s not clear whether eating proline has any affect on the body’s ability to make collagen.
  • Hyaluronic acid – Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan, is one of cartilage’s three glycosaminoglycans. It helps broth gel, and it’s been used for years to treat race horses with osteoarthritis, usually as an intra-articular injection or IV fluid. Recent studies on oral administration have been promising, though, meaning oral administration of quality bone stock (as opposed to, um, what other method of administration?) might help us with our joint issues, too. According to Wikipedia, human studies are underway and showing promise, but I wasn’t able to dig up much beyond this small study. Still, it’s compelling, and I’ll continue to drink broth regardless.
  • Chondroitin sulfate – Chondroitin sulfate is another glycosaminoglycan present in bone stock. It’s also a popular supplement for the treatment of osteoarthritis the efficacy of which has come under question. One recent review concludes that chondroitin sulfate “may interfere with progression of osteoarthritis”. I’d say it’s worth a shot.
  • Calcium – I’ve downplayed the importance of large amounts of supplementary calcium in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It’s the raw material for bone production and fortification, and bone stock might be one of the best sources of calcium around, especially for those who avoid dairy and don’t eat enough leafy greens.
  • Phosphorus – There’s also a good amount of phosphorus in bone stock, though I doubt Primal eaters lack adequate dietary phosphorus (there’s plenty in meat). Still, it’s a nice buffer.
  • Magnesium – Magnesium is pretty lacking in the modern diet. Fatty fish like mackerel offer good amounts, as do leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, but most people, Primal folks included, could stand to take in more magnesium. Dr. Michael Eades says if he had to recommend just one supplement, it’d be magnesium; Dr. Stephan Guyenet over at Whole Health Source recently posted a couple great pieces, one on magnesium and insulin sensitivity (short version: the former improves the latter) and another on magnesium and vitamin D metabolism (short version: the former affects the latter). Bone stock is just another way to obtain this valuable mineral.
  • Sulfur, potassium, and sodium – Stock has these minerals in mostly trace amounts, but they’re all important for health. Sodium isn’t really an issue for most people, but potassium is undoubtedly important and often lacking. Both are crucial electrolytes (bone broth – possible new sports drink?). Sulfur is the “S” in MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, the popular joint supplement that has shown some promising results in humans.

The best way to extract all that boney goodness from the bones is to cook with them, and that means making stock (or broth; from here on out, I’ll just say stock, but the two are pretty similar, with broth technically being derived from meat and bones, and stock from just bones). I mentioned a basic chicken stock recipe last year, but we can do better than that. Besides, different bones require different considerations. A few tips:

  • Add a couple shots of apple cider vinegar to your stock. This aids in the extraction of minerals without really altering the flavor.
  • Roast your bones beforehand. This adds color and flavor. For big bones like beef, 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes usually works. For chicken, just use roasted carcasses.
  • Don’t throw bones away. Even if you just ate a couple bone-in chicken thighs, save those measly little bones! Freeze them and keep adding to your collection until you’ve got a respectable amount.
  • Don’t be afraid to simmer long and slow. Smaller animals require less cooking time to extract nutrients, so chicken can probably go for twenty hours and produce a quality stock, but beef or lamb bones can go for several days, provided you keep the heat low and watch the water level to prevent burning.
  • Add feet, especially chicken feet, for added collagen – and more gelatin.
  • If it’s a delicious joint supplement you’re after, look for actual animal joints to throw in. Knuckles, especially, have tons of cartilaginous material and snappy ligament that will break down in the water.
  • When dealing with the bigger bones from ungulates, sometimes the heat and the water need a little assistance. To really get the good stuff, stick the bones in a sturdy bag and smash them with your sledgehammer (you do have a sledgehammer, right?). Then put the shards in the stockpot. Native Americans used to do this to buffalo bones to get at the little grease pockets lurking within the bone latticework; why shouldn’t we do the same? Another option is to remove the bones after half a day or so and go to work with a smaller hammer, a chef’s knife, or even the food processor. They’ll have softened considerably, and you’ll be able to chop them up into bits for quicker, more thorough extraction. Last week, I took a 10-inch chef’s knife to some cow knuckles and cow necks that’d been simmering for a day and returned the pieces for another few hours of cooking. That stock was the thickest, richest, most gelatinized stock I’ve ever made. Correlation, causation? I lean toward the latter. In fact, going forward, I plan on doing this every single time I make stock. The difference was just that huge.
  • You can eat bone, technically. Now, if you’ve made a proper stock and gotten all you can out of your bones, eating them may not confer many benefits. Still, it’s an interesting thought. Chicken bones in particular become pretty delectable after a day of stewing, and I’ll confess to sifting through the stock solids for snacks. I haven’t eaten an entire carcass or anything (yet), but I may try a few of the smaller, softer bones as an experiment. Anyone else?
  • Once your stock has cooled in the fridge, only skim the fat if you’re prepared to store or use the stock right away. That layer of fat is protecting your broth from adulterants, whether they’re random fridge flavors or bacteria.
  • Speaking of fat, I’d toss poultry fat. It’s a relatively high-PUFA animal fat, and a day of simmering has probably damaged it beyond repair. If you’re stewing bones with more saturated animal fat, though, you should absolutely save the fat layer.
  • Veggies are optional, but tasty. They add flavor, and the classic mirepoix blend of carrots, onions, and celery is always a welcome addition. Herbs work well, too. I’m partial to thyme, bay leaf, and whole peppercorns, with maybe a sprig or two of rosemary added. If you’re doing herbs and veggies, add them toward the end of cooking, especially if you’re doing a marathon two-day stock making session.

Divining the nutritional details of traditional foods like bone stock and bone marrow is difficult, if not impossible altogether. We know stock contains gelatin, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, glucosamine, chondroitin, and other trace minerals, but what are the numbers? We’re a numbers generation; we expect to have accurate info at the tips of our fingers at all times, but that’s unrealistic. Bone composition isn’t set in stone. What the animal ate, how it lived, where it lived, the mineral content of whatever it ate, the nutrient density of whatever it ate – these all factor into the composition and content of the bones, joints, and cartilage. The nutrition facts of commercial bone meal marketed as a calcium supplement gives us a general idea of the mineral content (900 mg calcium, 360 mg phosphorus, 9 mg magnesium per serving) of bone stock. That stuff comes from powdered “cattle raised in the United States,” which undoubtedly means corn-fed, nutritionally-deficient cows. We don’t know exactly how an animal’s diet affects its bone composition, but we know that it matters. Diet plays a huge role in everything, and I’d bet that grass-fed (again, as always) results in better, more nutritious stock. Regardless of the numbers, bone stock is good for you, damn good, and being somewhat in the dark about the precise nutrient count shouldn’t dissuade you from making and using your own bone stock on a regular basis.

Even if you don’t (or are unable to) seek out bones specifically for cooking, you’ll end up with plenty as leftovers. In fact, I’d suggest opting for whole animals or bone-in segments; the meat tastes better, it stays fresher longer, and you get some cooking bones when it’s all done. When you roast a chicken, you’ve got an entire skeleton to work with. When you cook a bone-in leg of lamb on the barbecue, you’ve got a big femur left over. What does a skinless breast offer after it’s been eaten, or an endless parade of steaks? I love a good steak as much as the next man, but a Primal eater shouldn’t live on muscle meat alone. I highly recommend giving homemade stock a try. If you eat animals, you should have access to their bones, and you should never throw those bones away.

Have I missed anything? Anyone have any good stock-making tips?

TAGS:  cooking tips

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185 Comments on "Cooking with Bones"

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smurf
smurf
6 years 7 months ago

I have a boner

Tai Menz
Tai Menz
6 years 6 months ago
Im an Executive Chef of a Fine Dining Restaurant and actually run a almost primal side menu for my healthy clientele. I make demi glace 20 times a year probably here is my recipe. 50# veal bones roasted and de glazed with 1 gallon red wine or marsala wine 20# onions 7 # celery no leaves they make it bitter 12# carrots 1/2 cs tomatoes or 4 v8 juice 3# garlic 1 cup cracked black pepper 12 bay leaves 12 bunches lemon thyme any other herbs floating around simmer for two days strain reduce until thick like sauce consistency. While… Read more »
Mary Anne Mead
Mary Anne Mead
6 years 6 months ago

This looks FANTASTIC! Can you be more specific about the tomatoes or V8? Is that 1/2 case? of what size cans? OR 4 of what size V8?

I have lemon thyme in my garden and use it for most anything. I first got it years ago in a bag of salad greens and was instantly addicted. Try this appetizer: radish slices sprinkle with lemon thyme leaves. Oh Wow! Add it to cold cucumber soup, a bowl of fresh fruit, go wild. I never even thought to add it to demi-glace MY BAD!!!

Tai Menz
Tai Menz
6 years 6 months ago

If our tomatoes are in season I use tomatoes. It really depends on how acidic you want it. The V8 I use large cans even Sacramento tomato juice is good.

Trey
Trey
4 years 9 months ago

Where is your restaurant? NYC I’m hoping…

freezing bone broth
freezing bone broth
2 years 10 months ago
I make beef bone broth regularly. I love it and the nutrients provided. I make it in big batches and freeze it in one quart BPA free plastic vacuum sealed packages. I then thaw the bag out in a hot water bath and reheat on the stove top to enjoy as often as I like. Can you please tell me in doing this freeze thaw production, am I losing some of the nutrient value, the collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, and mineral composition that is so valued? In other words, is the nutritional value the same as what it was when it… Read more »
Karen
Karen
2 years 9 months ago

If you put bone shards into your bone stock doesn’t it make it dangerous that you may get one stuck in your throat?

Issabeau
Issabeau
2 years 9 months ago

You can strain your broth through a strainer when done.
It’s recommended, most of us probably do this and I wonder why it wasn’t mentioned.

Erik
Erik
2 years 7 months ago
I make stock weekly. I use the techniques in James Peterson’s excellent book “Sauce”. A James Beard 1992 cookbook of the year. Things to note from his instructions, always start with cold water over carcass and then slowly heat to a simmer and make sure to never boil the liquid. Also, don’t stir the pot while simmering, only skim off scum that accululates on the surface. These techniques, cold water start, simmering and not stirring all prevent the the release of soluble proteins like albumin. When these proteins are released they cause the stock to turn cloudy. I believe Peterson… Read more »
Nick
6 years 7 months ago

Who would have thought bones would be so good for your health! I like the idea of using all the leftover bones after Thanksgiving or a rotisserie chicken dinner. It couldn’t get much easier than making stock.

Angela
Angela
6 years 7 months ago

Forgive me for being new to this… but about how many bones would you need to use, or what volume of bones, per litre or cup of water? And how about mixing different animals? You never really see mixed broths in the store, just chicken or beef, but how would mixed stock taste?

gilliebean
6 years 7 months ago

I wonder about this too! Can we mix bones from different animals?

Mary
Mary
6 years 7 months ago

Sure! I’ve done this before, and it results in a richer broth. I really like using well-roasted bones – they add such great flavor to the stock!

CJ
CJ
6 years 7 months ago

Mix away! I actually prefer to use chicken stock for beef stew. It seems to add a more complex flavor. Technically it may be less “beefy” but it actually tastes better.

Wakka
Wakka
6 years 7 months ago

Depends how rich you want it but my favorite is from the Tender Grassfed Meat cookbook (awesome) where it says 4-6 lbs misc bones and scraps + veggies garlic italian parsley salt acv and enough water to cover it by 2-3 inches. Makes about 8 quarts. As far as mixing I haven’t tried it yet but it’s in the cookbook as well called nomad’s broth so it might be worth a try.

jizza
jizza
3 years 8 months ago

1 pound of bones = 1 pint of rich stock

fireandstone
6 years 7 months ago

I make a stock for my family once a week in the crock pot from all of the meat, bone and vegetable scraps that we’ve accumulated throughout the week, which we keep in the freezer up until it’s time to rock. I usually make a random Paleo stew out of it and everyone loves it. It’s sort of like our weekly natural multivitamin.

JOY
JOY
4 years 8 months ago

RECIPE? please?

Danielle
Danielle
6 years 7 months ago

My dog is currently chewing on a beef marrow bone. It looks like I need to join the party.

stacey
6 years 6 months ago

I try to make sure my dog eats at least one bone a week. I wish I could feed her all natural, primal like we are trying to eat, but unfortunately, the cost and time is just too much for me. I feed her regular old purina, and supplement with bones. have you noticed after you feed them marrow-rich bones, their poop is white and chalky? I thought there was something wrong with my dog when I saw that!

Katrina
Katrina
5 years 5 months ago

Try Orijen foods by Champion Pet foods. They believe in Biologically Appropriate foods for animals which is very similar to a paleo diet for humans; no corn, no wheat and a much higher protein and fat content than in conventional dog foods. All carbs are sourced through naturally occurring grasses and even flowers. Hope that works for you!

cyndy
cyndy
5 years 2 months ago

I use this food for my cats. Not only do they love it but they are thriving and I fully expect to save money on vets bills in the future to ofset the cost of the stuff.

Charley
Charley
2 years 11 months ago
I am a vet and have become very interested in biologically appropriate foods for our pets, especially after seeing the great benefits it had for me. There is emerging evidence that many prevalent diseases on the rise in cats and dogs can be linked to inappropriate diets. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, food allergies, etc… very similar to the problems we see in humans! A raw diet is most certainly best, but it is not as simple as grinding up raw meat. Nutrients can be lost in processing and storage, and diets made up of muscle meat only is not complete. Doing a… Read more »
val
val
4 years 8 months ago

If you have a grass fed rancher in your area, check with them to see if they are making dog food. If you know a rancher that is not making dog food, ask them to start making it with the scrap amassed during processing the beeves. We have two ranchers in our area that do this. They get $2/pd. It’s organs, meat scrap and about 10% fat.

marilyn
marilyn
4 years 4 months ago
Hi Since dogs are carnivores they should not eat manufactured dog food—they should eat raw grass fed meat—if this is too expensive or inconvenient you can get a frozen “log” of raw meat dog food, organic and grass fed in an organic supermarket such as Whole Foods–just defrost in the frig and slice off a piece. Feeding carnivores–whether our pets at home or animals in a zoo— a diet that is not natural to them causes them to have human diseases of modern civilization–not good. the raw meat diet for dogs is known as the BARF diet–it is used by… Read more »
paleokins
3 years 3 months ago

When I was living out of a hotel room, and couldn’t do a BARF diet for my dog, I fed him Barking At The Moon (kibble without any grain) and gave him marrow bones to chew regularly.

Issabeau
Issabeau
2 years 9 months ago

BARF = Biologically Appropriate Raw Food

James
James
2 years 18 days ago

Wow. I might start eating that at $3 a lb delivered! Sounds like cheap healthy stew.

Classic
Classic
6 years 7 months ago

Ever since I was a little kid I bite off the ends of the chicken bones and suck out the marrow as much as possible. I do get weird looks when I do it in public though. Someone in my family must have done this or I would not have learned how. Perhaps my Grandmother. hmmmm

gilliebean
6 years 7 months ago

I wish I’d learned that too when I was young. Today, I want to be able to do it, but the thought of it gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Casey
Casey
6 years 7 months ago

Picked up a similar habit while visiting a friend in the Jamaican bush. He picked up the habit while living in Ghana, where he said he learned that “you can eat just about anything.” I had to believe him after watching him eat 95% of a grilled fish. Someone mentioned oxtail bones down below–another great way to get some marrow.

That said, given the differences in meat quality depending on how an animal is raised, I’d imagine the same is true for the bones. Unless you know the source of the bone, I’d be wary.

val
val
4 years 8 months ago

I have always been a chicken bone disposal!! Just like my granma. Somehow I always knew, deep in my soul, that the grisly bone ends and the delicous marrow were the choicest parts! Also, as a child my chore was to clear the table or wash the dishes, I would eat the grisly fatty stuff that everyone else would cut off left on their plates!

Krista
Krista
1 year 10 months ago

My husband does this. He grew up in Weat Africa and this was common. I thought it was gross for years (I was vegetarian) but slowly came to understand the wisdom in it.

John Solter
6 years 7 months ago
This is another blow to the myth that you can’t gets lots of needed vitamins and minerals from animal products alone. My simple-headed thinking on this: if an animal (like you) needs certain vitamins and minerals to live, maybe you can get them from going out and eating another animal which also requires the same trace minerals to remain healthy (and so probably already has lots of them in its body). I remember reading that the navies of the world only started having problems with scurvy and other vitamin deficiency diseases when they switched from rations of meat (preserved in… Read more »
rosco
rosco
6 years 7 months ago

you’re right, your thinking is simple-headed.

Danielht
Danielht
6 years 7 months ago

Mark – Could you explain the following:

“Speaking of fat, I’d toss poultry fat. It’s a relatively high-PUFA animal fat, and a day of simmering has probably damaged it beyond repair. If you’re stewing bones with more saturated animal fat, though, you should absolutely save the fat layer.”

Thanks!

-Daniel

Todd
6 years 7 months ago

I would love an explanation as well. When I read that I thought for a second that maybe I shouldn’t be eaten so much chicken!! Even organic, free-range and sometimes true pastured from a local farm.

Henry Miller
Henry Miller
6 years 7 months ago

PUFA – are not heat stable. Our broth/stock has been at high heat for over 24 hours, so anything not heat stable is probably rancid. Saturated fat is more stable when heated so it is probably okay.

This is only in regaurd to long cooked broths/stocks. When just heated for a short time, different rules – probably the ones you were thinking of – apply.

gilliebean
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks for this post Mark! Love the content!!

Sean
Sean
6 years 7 months ago

I make a lot of stock, in the pressure cooker. Alton Brown talked about low and slow in his stock episode, how the goodies need it to come out of the pores of the bones but the pressure cooker works fine for me and seems a lot more practical than cooking for 20 hours.

If I tried to cook something for 20 hours I think my wife would strangle me.

julietx
julietx
6 years 7 months ago

Interesting. How long do you cook it for?

Sean
Sean
6 years 7 months ago

Chicken stock perhaps an hour and a half. Once it builds up pressure, I turn the heat way down so it is barely hissing.

julietx
julietx
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks!

Jen M
Jen M
4 years 11 months ago

High heat from a pressure cooker destroys the nutrients. You won’t get the same benefits Mark talked about In this post. It needs to be low and slow- the traditional way of cooking.

Dee
Dee
3 years 7 months ago

Not too sure about that one. From some of the reading I have done, it’s not the temperature that matters, but the cooking time that destroys nutrients. I’m no expert, happy to be proved wrong. I would love to see any evidence that it does, as I just cannot find it.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7792260
and
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2006.00258.x/abstract

Terri
3 years 6 months ago

A pressure cooker does not have high heat. In fact it is usually below boiling after the pressure comes up. And because you cook much more quickly than normal, the food is not exposed to heat as long. It may actually be more healthful than “low and slow.” The pressure DOES concentrate flavors.

Sarah
11 months 15 days ago

Hi All,
We have been pressure-cooking meat and bones all our lives as it saves time and cooking gas. And especially for broths and soups, I pressure cook the beef bones along with the veggies for about 2 hours and get a very gelatinous broth and the marrow falls off from in between the bones. Though I’m sure of the comparison between the nutrient content of pressure-cooked broth versus slow-cooked broth. It would be good to know which is the best method to make a broth.

Sangelia
Sangelia
3 years 1 month ago

I use a crockpot when I make soups. Mine I will admit can take as long as three days before I will serve it. I cook mine on the low setting.

Annie
6 months 5 days ago

You have to be carful when you use a Crock pot.
As most Crock pots, (and more so with older crock pots), Have “Lead” and “Cadmium” in them. The same with the dinner ware, drinking glasses etc.

Todd
6 years 7 months ago

It will be an exciting day when I add all these extra primal things into my life… I can not wait to get my vibram 5 fingers for running barefoot.

And, eating bones, marrows, etc. sounds wonderful.

Through 5 days of my primal experiment the nutrient I am most lacking according to fitday is calcium. I just might have to eat some bone marrow now!

Ben
Ben
6 years 7 months ago

Calcium?? Interesting. Are you eating many green leafy veggies??

Todd
6 years 7 months ago

Yes… plenty. I add them to my smoothies and I make a big ass salad everyday.

Yesterday I had 2 green smoothies – 1 had 66 grams of spinach and the other had 50 grams of kale.

I also had 2 big ass salads – 1 had 80 grams of mixed salad greens and the other had about 40 grams of romaine lettuce.

I think this is actually too much… almost. But, I still fall short.

I eat absolutely no dairy however… I may consider buying grass fed raw dairy. That or I may take a calcium supplement.

J
J
6 years 6 months ago

Will for a start eating spinach has a bad affect on calcium absorption as it contains Oxalic acid which binds with calcium!

Janet
6 years 7 months ago

Oxtail is good to make bone broth with. After slow cooking, the meat falls off the bone and is edible.

romesaz
romesaz
6 years 7 months ago

Oxtail is fantastic! There’s a russian (east european) meat in aspic dish that usually involves the stock from cooking oxtail + some meat for hours (usually 6-8), then separating all the meat from the bones, covering it with the stock, and placing it into the fridge overnight.
Enjoy the next day with a russian mustard or some horseradish

stacey
6 years 6 months ago

I love oxtail! Not exactly primal, but I cook oxtail with black beans and then pick all the meat off the bones. Mix in a can of rotel and you’ve got a delicious meal 🙂

Sangelia
Sangelia
3 years 1 month ago

Neckbones for me. I’ve been known to crush the bones while the soup is being made.

Valda Redfern
6 years 7 months ago
My butcher gives me bones for free whenever I ask him. I believe he likes to know that someone is getting some good out of what would otherwise be refuse. @Classic: I also have been chewing the ends of chicken bones, and cracking them to extract the marrow, since childhood. Maybe you have to be discreet about it in restaurants, though… @Angela: I routinely mix bones from different animals. The only distinction I make is between mammals and birds: as Mark says, poultry bones are much softer and take less cooking. His point about PUFA is another reason to segregate… Read more »
Samantha Moore
Samantha Moore
6 years 7 months ago

The one place in my grocery store where I can find interesting animal parts is in the dog food freezer.

Sharon
Sharon
6 years 7 months ago

I have cooked stock with a mixture of animal bones and it seemed to taste fine.

One of our favorite soups was made with stock made from ham hocks, then cooked bacon, onions, some bbq sauce and whatever veg you have, added.

I have a Sous Vide Supreme appliance and I wonder if it would work for stock?

I think the next batch of bones and veg scraps I save in the freezer will be in a cooking bag and I will give it a try. Has anyone else done this and if so, did it work?

Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 7 months ago
I’ve been making bone stock for about a year now. It is like going from a black-and-white culinary world to one of color. My 19 month old has been having some bone stock with an pastured egg yolk every morning for the past year and she is incredibly hardy and robust. And she’s only had two significant colds in her life, so far (which is amazing given her older sister goes to a daycare where some of the kids are sick every week!). I’m sure these foods (and the full-fat grass-fed dairy yogurt and kefir) have played a major contributing… Read more »
Laura
Laura
6 years 7 months ago

How do you prepare the stock and egg yolk for your daughter?

Aaron Blaisdell
6 years 7 months ago

I warm up some stock in a small saucepan then add it to a bowl with an egg yolk from a hard-boiled already placed in it. I mush it up and spoon feed it to her.

Our daughter’s nanny used to also make steamed eggs by placing the yolk of an uncooked egg in a small bowl, mix in some chicken stock, then steam them over boiling water for a few minutes.

Wilow
Wilow
6 years 7 months ago

What a great article! Thanks! I didn’t realize the bones should be cooked for so long. Your tip about adding the apple cider to help pull the nutrients out of the bones, that is the advice Mom gave me years ago, and I always do it. Not something you hear about, terrific for you to bring it up.

Willow

marilyn
marilyn
4 years 4 months ago

Y0ur cat would benefit from eating raw meat instead of commercial cat food, (if that is what she eats) Breeders of $5000 oscicats, a domesticated pet that is 50% domestic housecat and 50% wild jungle cat– (mix of housecat and oscelot wild cats) feed them raw chicken

Mike Cheliak
6 years 7 months ago

This is a Bone-a-Fide Great post…I have been cooking with bones for years. My Ukrainian Borscht starts with a bunch of beef and pork bones in a roasting pan and ends with YUM!

Michael
6 years 7 months ago

To really get the good stuff, stick the bones in a sturdy bag and smash them with your sledgehammer (you do have a sledgehammer, right?)

You can also throw them in a Vita-Mix. It is a lot easier. 🙂

fireandstone
6 years 7 months ago

…or a Blendtec. If those wonderful things can turn iPads into powder, they’ll work on beef bones.

fireandstone
6 years 7 months ago
“You can eat bone, technically. Now, if you’ve made a proper stock and gotten all you can out of your bones, eating them may not confer many benefits. Still, it’s an interesting thought. Chicken bones in particular become pretty delectable after a day of stewing, and I’ll confess to sifting through the stock solids for snacks.” -Mark Sisson I just wanted to add that unless the bones are the consistency of rubber, there is still very significant mineral content there. If you put the bones in a container of pure vinegar and let it sit for a few days to… Read more »
Nanette Kology
1 year 9 months ago

Are we assuming we’re using bones from grass-fed animals? Does it matter?

JohnC
JohnC
6 years 7 months ago
I’d just like to second the recommendation (as a lifetime stock cooker) that the pressure cooker is hand’s down the best way to go. Load it up, cook at 15lbs for 45 minutes and you have excellent stock. You get bright fresh tasting stocks with much better extraction compared to duller stocks from cooking all day on the stove. It’s more energy efficient as well. After every dinner with bones we toss them in a big ziplock back in the freezer, when we have enough bags we make stock. I noticed one person said to put salt in the stock… Read more »
Joan
Joan
6 years 7 months ago

I have taken a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement for osteoarthritis of the neck for the last 15 years. It made a huge improvement for me immediately, and I have had no progression.
For those of us who don’t have much time for cooking, are there any commercial broths that are any good?

~Cherish~
~Cherish~
4 years 2 months ago

if your bones are already cooked then tossing everything in the slow cooker only takes a couple of minutes. if the bones are raw then about an hour in the oven on your day off and then tossed in the slow cooker is rather quick & easy.

kay pickett
kay pickett
1 year 6 months ago
It’s impossible to find commercially prepared bone broth that is the quality of home-made broth that is made over a 20-24 hrs. 1st, it will not have sat in cold water with added organic raw apple cider vinegar to help pull out the minerals from the bones for the recommended time of 15-20 mn. before heating up. 2nd, it probably won’t have the parsley added just 10-15 mn before the end of cooking which is important to preserve all the minerals and vitamins you want to get from the parsley. If it is added sooner than that, the heat will… Read more »
Angelina
Angelina
6 years 7 months ago

Thanks Mark. This was a very timely article for me. I just got my 20kg of pasture fed bones today. I was a bit disappointed by the lack of marrow in them but now I know what to do with them 🙂

Nikki
6 years 7 months ago

I will definitely start doing this, although it will be just for me, since my fiance is scared of bones. Lol, where is his primal instinct?

Alan
Alan
6 years 7 months ago

I’m still a bit confused about marrow. If I cook a stock (usually chicken) for 12-24 hours, am I getting the goodness of the marrow? Or do I ‘need’ to crack the bones in the stockpot. Or do I ‘need’ to actually eat the marrow.

I’d like to add that I always make my stocks in the slow cooker. Easy, trouble free, safe and frugal with energy use.

Primal Palate
Primal Palate
5 years 6 months ago

Some slow cookers that are made in China are made with Lead.

Howard Gray
6 years 7 months ago

Fascinating article Mark. Thank you! As someone which joint problems this certainly is something I will look to explore in the future!

JD Moyer
6 years 7 months ago

Great post! We started making our own broth a couple years ago, right around when our daughter was born. Homemade soup is now her most requested food.

BigD
BigD
6 years 7 months ago

Im not much of a fan of making stock but I do like curries and bone-in meat always tastes better in a curry than meat alone.

Deanna
Deanna
6 years 7 months ago

I am a fan of making my own stock, too. I bought some fryer chickens once to try, and I felt wasteful just chucking out a perfectly good carcass, so I made stock. I’ve been doing that ever since.

This marrow business is news to me… I think I’ll have to try it!

Daniel Merk
6 years 7 months ago

I make stock monthly. I’ve also eaten poultry bones. I also make mixed stock of lamb, turkey, and pork bones. Don’t forget shells. Lobsters and other crustaceans are also great in stocks.

Beth
Beth
6 years 7 months ago

Once the stock is made, how do you store it? Would freezing it in portion sizes be okay, or does that detract from nutrients? I know with breastmilk it can so I’m not sure if it’s the same with stock.

Trish
Trish
6 years 7 months ago

I always freeze my stock, never had a problem.

Alyssa
Alyssa
6 years 7 months ago

About the PUFAs going rancid: I never thought of that before. Does this still apply if it’s cooked on low in a crock pot the whole 12-24 hours? I’ve been just stirring the fat back in to the broth since I’ve been trying to eat more fat in general, but didn’t realize poultry fat was PUFAs.

jay
jay
6 years 7 months ago

Trader Joe’s has organic chicken & beef broths for a good price. I am not sure how they are created, perhaps someone else knows. I use them as a base for crockpot stews.

andrew
6 years 7 months ago

This morning I bought a chicken from our local, organic free range chicken farm. I asked if they ever had any bones? And was given 2.5 kilos of chicken leg / wing bones FREE!

Roasted them for about 30 minutes and now half of them are in the pressure cooker. I added a little apple cider vinegar too as recommended – don’t like the smell of it, but I can imagine how it will add to the calcium content.

Many thanks – great article!

Andrew

Kansas Grokette
Kansas Grokette
6 years 7 months ago

As Jacques Pepin says (about cooking in general) “Never throw anything away” and “Use this [referring to miscellaneous meat scraps] in your stock.”

He may not be paleo, but the man does know a thing or twelve about cooking. I have noticed, though, that a lot of French cooking is very amenable to paleo adaptations. I think the French keep their carbs more separate from their meats than a lot of other cooking traditions. They tend to put all their carbs in one basket, as it were – the bread and pastries, so it’s easy to just leave those out.

Stock on!

Sophie
Sophie
6 years 6 months ago

The thought you just described is exactly what I’ve been thinking about French cuisine. It’s such a perfect starting point, and happened to be my favorite cuisine prior to discovering the primal/paleo community. I always request French restaurants when going out with friends. The so-called French Paradox is not such a paradox to some.

Alex
Alex
6 years 7 months ago

I keep a ziplock bag in the freezer in which I collect chicken bones as well as all parts of onions that I’m not going to eat, especially the brown dried outer skin. In my experience, onion skins make the difference between good stock and truly great stock.

andrew
6 years 7 months ago

Update and question! I’ve now got a good quantity of lovely smelling, solidly jellied chicken stock. I will use some to make soup, some to cook chicken in (casserole) – but does anyone drink it just heated up and seasoned? Like a sort of chicken consommé?

Andrew

Amber
Amber
3 years 3 months ago

Great article! I cook up beef marrow bones with oregano and dried chilli flakes, (as well as about 4tbs apple cider vinegar and generous amount of good quality salt) and cook for about 9 hours. It is incredible! I drink the liquid and cook with the fat. I have also started using the stock to make a sort of Pho – adding kale or bok choy, carrots and beef or chicken breast. I eat it for breakfast and it is the best start to the day!

Sandy
Sandy
1 year 9 months ago

Yes! Drink the broth. Daily. Nothing more nutritious and healing! A glass of broth a day keeps the doctor away. 😉

Valda Redfern
6 years 7 months ago

@ Andrew
I drink heated up bone soup by itself – as you say, it’s like a consomme – and sometimes I just take a spoon to the gelled contents of the jar in the fridge.

Luke M-Davies
6 years 7 months ago

Great post Mark – especially as it is soon to be bbq time here in England!

When I was in Brazil, I tried a national dish, ‘Feijoada’. It was a bone delight!
I understand it is made with black turtle beans, pork and beef products, (ears, tail, feet), bacon, smoked pork ribs, (loin and tongue). All to be cooked slowly in a clay oven…
I was reluctant to eat the bones in the dish but not only did they add flavour to the stock, they were quite soft and tasty themselves!! and made me feel like a true Grok 🙂

Jeff Cowan
Jeff Cowan
6 years 7 months ago
I have been simmering about 5lbs of buffalo bones together with an onion, couple celery stalks, 2 carrots, some garlic and ginger. I’ve had it going for about a day and a half now. Coming home from work today I was surprised how much water had evaporated, a few hours more and it would have started burning, should have told my wife to add some hot water as needed. The smell is driving my dog crazy, he’s ready to attack the stove. Tomorrow night I am going to strain it and freeze it and save some of the meat parts… Read more »
marilyn
marilyn
4 years 4 months ago
the first time I roasted 8 pounds of marrow bones for 50 minutes in my oven to prepare to make bone broth the delicious smell permiated to the house next door and smeelled so good my neighbor came over to ask what I was cooking. I told her to come over with her husband in 3 days and they would have it for dinner. They liked it so much they started cooking bone broths. After 2 months it relieved my neighbor’s arthritis, which just seemed to disappear, much to the consternation of his doctor. I gues teh 3 types of… Read more »
andrew
6 years 7 months ago

@Valda – I heated up the stock with some fresh herbs and it was an ace drink!

Yesterday I bought a slow cooker (crockpot?) and today got some free range, grass fed beef bones (free) from the butcher. They are roasting now – I’ll give them 45 – 50 minutes.

I feel that they’d need too long in the pressure cooker for me to feel comfortable with it so I’ll put them in the crock pot with water and a touch of vinegar. But for how long??!!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
6 years 7 months ago

My mom used to “can” chicken in Mason jars in her pressure cooker. The bones were so soft that you could just eat them with the chicken if you wanted to.

andrew
6 years 7 months ago

“FitDay” doesn’t seem to have a listing for homemade beef stock (or chicken) – only gravy, broth or tinned consommé.

So – my homemade French onion soup appears to have very little nutritional value – and I just don’t believe that! I think it must be much higher in minerals etc than they give it credit for! It made a filling, delicious and much enjoyed lunch – and added very little to my %RDA according to the chart.

emily
emily
6 years 7 months ago

I make beef stock with meaty bits like neck bones plus knuckle bones (femur tips), carrot, onion, and celery. I saved the fat I skimmed off the last batch – does this constitute tallow? I’d love to cook with it.

Peggy
Peggy
6 years 7 months ago

Weeeee! I’m off to get 10lbs of mixed bones (lamb, pork, goat) from my summer CSA supplier. I think I’m helping clean out their freezer so they’re giving me a huge deal. I’m also getting 5 whole ducks, pork fat (for lard-rendering), and various organs. all organic. Can’t wait to get cookin, roastin & stewin! Plus rendering some schmaltz & a try at duck confit.

Shebeeste
Shebeeste
6 years 7 months ago

Here is some great stock advice and discussion from Kitchen Stewardship, including some tips I added in the comments:

http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/03/30/monday-mission-how-to-make-your-own-homemade-chicken-stockbroth/

Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later

I eat slow-cooked chicken bones all the time – the entire beast gets eaten, minus feathers, beak and bowels.

I have tried slow cooking duck and rabbit bones, but they appear never to get soft enough to eat.

Mary Anne Mead
Mary Anne Mead
6 years 7 months ago
The Nourishing Traditions cookbook has very clear instructions for stock, including the vinegar for releasing more minerals. When I roast a chicken, I snag the roasted chicken wings every time and crunch the wing tips – YUM. and the carcass always goes directly into a pot after supper. I often roast chickens beer-can style and use different vinegars and herbs. Great flavor for the broth, but different than stock. Drinking the warm broth by itself is wonderful, especially if I’ve gone a little crazy with the herbs. I reduce my stock to demi glace and put .5 pint jars in… Read more »
Jeff Cowan
Jeff Cowan
6 years 7 months ago

Anybody ever mix various animal bones? I made some amazing buffalo stock with leftover marrow bones (after I baked them and got out the marrow). Now I’m collecting some more buffalo bones but recently bought a leg of goat. Now I’ve got a nice goat foot and leg bones. I’m just wondering how goat and buffalo bones will make broth together or whether I should just do them separately.

Dani
Dani
6 years 7 months ago
Regarding the vinegar: I think it is best if the vinegar is added to the bones and water and let to sit at room temp for an hour or so before starting the simmer. Seems that’s what I have read in a number of different blogs and books regarding the most nourishing way to prepare bone broths. If you’re roasting the bones first, I’d let them cool a bit, dump in the stockpot, cover with cold filtered water, then add and mix in the vinegar–at least a couple tablespoons per quart. Also, if you’re going to be adding herbs, etc.,… Read more »
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