Bone Broth: From Plain Vanilla to Cherry Garcia

If you’re into ancestral eating, bone broth is considered absolutely essential.  A South American proverb claims “good broth will resurrect the dead.”  Indeed, the bone broth tradition goes back many years. Traditional cuisines in many cultures reserve a special place for bone broth.  Bone broth is supposed to strengthen the immune system, heal the gut, relieve digestive problems and allergies, and alleviate arthritis and joint problems.

Ok, enough positives here.  I’m sold!  So I decided to make bone broth.  While the bone stock is important, right now, you can’t get grass-fed marrow bones from the two largest mail-order dealers: U.S. Wellness Meats and Slanker’s.  They’re “out of stock,” excuse the pun.  Last time I checked, they were still out of stock (and it’s been more than a year).  Perhaps avid followers of ancestral eating are buying them up and stockpiling them like hotcakes.  So I decided to use marrow bones from feedlot cattle instead.

Better feedlot than never.

Make sure to wash these marrow bones. They are cut with a gigantic saw in one swoop so there are needle-like bone fragments.  I even use a vegetable brush to get rid of the hanging fragments.  Trust me, you do not want sharp bone fragments in your mouth.

For about an hour or two, I boil these marrow bones in medium-high heat.  I add about a half cup of apple cider vinegar when boiling.  Usually the marrow core falls right out.  If they don’t, I use wooden chosticks to push them out from one end.

Separating the marrow from the bone

The marrow bones still have tendons and ligaments attached.  You don’t want to throw these out.  So I separate them from the bones using my steak knife.

Once the tendons are detached, you can throw away the bones.  These are marrow bones which do not dissolve.  I also throw in smaller bones, usually short and back ribs which I collect over a week.  These do dissolve and become soft like marshmallows and hollow out when you boil a whole lot longer (12-24 hours).  I usually leave such small bones in when serving for the “primeval” visual effect.  This should give your vegetarian pals some kicks.

Left-over short ribs in bone broth.

I’ve experimented with various ways of serving the bone broth.  It’s good to serve with minimal seasoning (black pepper and salt) and savor its pristine flavor.  This would be “plain vanilla” bone broth.

Plain vanilla bone broth.

Another option is to make a separate soup with vegetables and combine the two when serving.  I used to make them simultaneously and mix the two into one immediately.  At a ratio of about 1 to 5 (broth to soup).  What you have is a strong vegetable soup with a hearty bone broth stock.

Bone broth with kale and other veggies.

Obviously, this will not work well with certain vegetables.  If you’re using broccoli, cauliflower, green onions, mushrooms or kale, you want to keep the ingredients apart and mix them when ready to serve.  Carrots, potatoes (or yuca), turnips, zucchini and butternut squash tend to hold up well.  I’ve mixed them with bone broth and stored them for more than a week without spoiling.

When ready to serve, I also use more seasoning (turmeric, dried chopped onions, minced garlic) and sprinkle some nori (Japanese shredded seaweed).  Sometimes, I put kale and chorizo slices, and drop a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for a taste of Portuguese kale soup.  That would be Bone Broth Cherry Garcia.

Chorizoes and nori in bone broth for breakfast.

I’ve experimented with different types of bones.  From Slanker’s, I bought some buffalo marrow bones.  Unfortunately, the buffalo bones don’t produce hearty enough marrow core, as they’re not as rich as beef marrows.  Those who’ve eaten buffalo steak know how lean the beef is and the same goes for the marrows.  So no buffalo broth again.  Since I don’t eat chicken (personal preference), I haven’t tried making the “Jewish Penicillin,” as chicken broth is known.  No porcine broth either as I prefer processed pork (such as chorizoes) and bacon.  At the moment, I’m only dedicated to making bovine broth.

I also purchased some grass-fed cow knuckles.  Boiling and detaching tendons took more than a week.  And then I was left with a huge naked knuckle which I boiled for umpteen hours, hoping to dissolve its intractable core.  My gas bill would have hit the roof if I didn’t bail.

This is no chicken. It’s a huge cow knuckle I tried to dissolve unsuccesfully.

So this was an exercise in futility comparable to trying to peel yuca with a potato peeler.  The amount of tendons I reaped wasn’t woth the time I spent, the knife blade I ruined, nor my own sore knuckles incurred from the process.

Not enough tendons for the trouble.
Still intact cow knuckle core after umpteen hours of boiling.

So cooking your bone broth is an adventure in ancestral eating!  Yes, it can become a misadventure if you don’t know what you’re doing.  But there are enough variations in cooking this ancestral broth to suit everyone’s palate:  from Plain Vanilla to Cherry Garcia.  If not, it can become an acquired taste soon enough, as it did for me.


One comment on “Bone Broth: From Plain Vanilla to Cherry Garcia

  1. Please elaborate more on your coffee marinade for steak. Do you use instant or fresh ground? Do you find a particular sort of bean imparts a particular nutritional benefit to the steak? Does eating caffeinated steak before bedtime keep you up or do you use decaf? Or is this a breakfast steak?

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