Can this marrow be saved?
October 28, 2012 6:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a crock pot full of grass fed beef marrow bones and vegetables that have been cooking on low for the past 30 hours or so. I'm about to strain the broth from the solids. The solids will include the bones themselves, chunks of marrow, and bits of assorted vegetables. Any things to do with the solids besides toss them out? Is there still any nutritional value in them or has it all been leached out into the broth? As for the broth, I'll refrigerate it and skim off any fat that solidifies on top. Uses for the fat?
posted by ms_rasclark to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're the really frugal type who doesn't like to see anything go to waste, you could save the solids to incorporate into an appropriately hearty soup like ham-and-bean soup. The fat (beef tallow) would be great for biscuits.
posted by drlith at 6:17 AM on October 28, 2012

Can't help you with the solids--we usually feed that stuff to the animals.

The fat? Skim the fat off, let it cool then use to make a roux for gravy!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:24 AM on October 28, 2012

to my knowledge, all you can do with the vegetable solids is compost them. you could attempt to keep cooking the bones themselves, as several web-sites say that they will make several rounds of broth. but I say dump those too. You shouldn't actually have chunks of marrow floating around as those should very quickly integrate into the liquid of the broth.

you did save the marrow! by cooking it into the broth! are the bones cracked open, exposing the insides more readily the soup? If they aren't, you could try cracking them open and continuing to cook them if you see that the bones still have something inside them. otherwise you're done.
posted by saraindc at 6:29 AM on October 28, 2012

If you take the bones out, then the rest of the solids can be used in mashed potatoes for extra flavor and moisture.
posted by jedicus at 7:28 AM on October 28, 2012

Best answer: The whole point of making a broth or stock is to transfer as much of the flavor, etc. from the solids into the liquid. If there is any flavor left in them, then you're not doing it right. After 30 hours of cooking there should be practically no flavor remaining in the bones and vegetables. You should get as much liquid out of them as possible, and then throw them out.

It is possible to get some further gelatin out of the bones by cooking them again with fresh aromatics (vegetables are considered aromatics in the context of stock making). This "second stock" this is called remouillage. Remouillage is a weak stock and probably not worth the trouble unless you have used a very large amount of bones. It's also worth noting that remouillage is a stock, not a broth, and it seems likely that what you're really interested in is broth. Remouillage can be reduced and used for things like adding body and richness to sauces and braises, but isn't particularly useful as a soup base.

As to whether there is any nutritional value left in the solids... that depends on what you consider "nutritional value." Certainly there is plenty of fiber left in the solids. But, frankly, considering that eating the stuff would be like choking down flavorless goo, I think there are ways to get fiber in your diet that aren't so purgatorial. Like vegetables that haven't had all the flavor extracted into a liquid, for example.

As for using the fat... you can always skim off as much as you can save, filter it through paper towels or cheesecloth, solidify it in the refrigerator and save the solidified fat. This can be useful for things like sautéing or browning meats and vegetables. But it is likely to be fairly strongly flavored with the aromatics you used in making the stock. Whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your personal preference. After you have separated it, melt some in a hot pan and see whether or not the aroma is appealing to you. If it isn't, then I wouldn't hesitate to throw it away.
posted by slkinsey at 7:35 AM on October 28, 2012 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: The bones were cut into approx. 2 - 3" pieces. As I removed them from the broth, most of the marrow was still intact inside the bones. When I've made bone broth in the past, sometimes the marrow slides out, but is never disintegrated. And though it tastes good (I haven't tasted this batch yet since I'm waiting for the fat to separate out), it rarely gels like I think it's supposed to. Am I doing something wrong?
posted by ms_rasclark at 8:25 AM on October 28, 2012

Best answer: I've been known to add a good pour of vinegar to stock ingredients. Either cider or balsamic works for me. It seems to leach out even more flavor and nutrients from the bones. The balsamic vinegar will most certainly color your broth much darker. It gives a richness that is awesomely good. (My chicken soup is renowned by all who have tasted it! Secret addition is 1 tablespoon (or more) of good balsamic vinegar!)

Seconding slkinsey on the fat-skim, filter and use a bit to saute other things. If you like the smell and taste, you're good. Seems to me that a bit of the flavored fat, a bit of butter and a panful of onions would carmelize into something wonderful.

BTW, if you have chickens, or know someone who does, they LOVE leftovers from stock making! Even after 30 hours.

If you do a shorter cooking of stock, to the point where the veggies still have some color and shape, but are so soft and squishy, you can put them through a food mill and use the resultant slurry as a good hearty soup base.

And for pity's sake, ROAST THOSE BONES! Get them good and brown, then make the stock.
posted by LaBellaStella at 8:53 AM on October 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Uses for the fat: biscuits, fried potatoes, pan fried toast
posted by Bruce H. at 9:20 AM on October 28, 2012

You could make bird suet out of the fat, if you don't want to use it in a dish.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:38 AM on October 28, 2012

Best answer: ...though it tastes good (I haven't tasted this batch yet since I'm waiting for the fat to separate out), it rarely gels like I think it's supposed to. Am I doing something wrong?

Yes. You aren't using enough collagen-containing ingredients for the amount of stock you want to make. What sorts of bones are you using? And how clean are they? For stock, you want to use something like oxtail or neck bones or rib bones or shin bones with plenty of meat and connective tissue attached. If you're using "marrow bones" (usually beef femurs sawed into pieces) that look like this, there just isn't very much there that will add flavor and gelatin to a stock. Good bones for stock should look more like this. Also, you won't get a great result if you use only meaty bones and vegetables. You need to use actual meat as well. For this, get the cheapest, toughest, most sinewey meat you can find. This will be full of flavor and, more importantly, full of collagen that can be converted into gelatin. If it's a beef-based stock, shin meat works very well. Run it through a meat grinder for maximum extraction.

As LaBellaStella suggests, if you want to make a brown stock, roast the meaty bones to a very dark brown before making the stock. Protip: Pressure cook the stock for a faster and better result.
posted by slkinsey at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know if this is worth doing after 30 hours, but I've done a couple stews recently where after things had cooked and I had strained the fat from the liquid I took an immersion blender to the remaining vegetable solids and liquid. It gave a nice body and flavor to everything, but in my case I had only been cooking for 6-8 hours. Also, roasted the veggies before throwing them into the crockpot, yum.
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:49 PM on October 28, 2012

Response by poster: Even though the broth didn't gel, it's a beautiful caramel color with full bodied, rich flavor. I'll try some of the suggestions next time, especially roasting the bones and veggies first, and see what that does. Thanks, all for your comments and input.
posted by ms_rasclark at 5:51 AM on October 29, 2012

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