We don’t like to waste food in our house.
(We seem to waste plenty of other things: money, energy, time – but not food).
So the other day, when I was done roasting and simmering some beef bones for homemade bone broth, I began wondering whether I might be able to process the bones further and use them for something instead of tossing them in the trash or the compost (where they never actually break down) or in the woods, where my son is bound to find them and drag them right back to the house (the other day he went on a “bone hunt” as he calls it, and showed up at my back door with a half-decomposed DEER LEG – I shit you not – I nearly puked at the sight of it). If my son doesn’t find it, my dog will, and either way I’ll end up having to deal with it all over again. *GOOD TIMES!!*
Let me back up for a second here and state, for the record, that the Instapot is freaking amazing.
I bought one for my husband’s birthday last year (he’d been going ON AND ON about how amazing they were supposed to be, so I bought it just so he would shut up about it already – also, I heard a rumor they make easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs and I was interested in testing that out, as my hard boiled eggs always look like a rabid badger got to them, the shells are so freaking impossible to get off).
Anyway, I had always been too scared to use a pressure cooker, as I was terrified the damn thing was going to blow at any second. Somehow the Instapot (which, by the way, the brand is actually “Instant Pot” not “Instapot” – however, I and everyone I know call it “Instapot” so against my better instincts, I’m just going to keep saying it wrong) seemed more accessible. In addition to having other functions (slow cook, saute), it also seemed safer, somehow. I’m not actually sure whether it is, but I enjoy a good sense of security, false or not.
ANYWAY, to tie the above seemingly random trains of thought together, I decided to use the Instapot to try to cook down the soup bones to a pulp. I was certain the Instapot was up to the challenge, just wasn’t sure how long it would take.
After experimenting with increasingly longer cooking times (at high pressure), it turns out that 8 hours is more than sufficient. When I took the bones out of the cooker, I was able to take a simple serrated bread knife (I didn’t want to use one of my freshly sharpened chef’s knives, those are precious – I’m frankly just not attached to my arsenal of bread knives and don’t know why we have so many) and chop up the bones into a fine, powdery bone meal (it looks wet in the pics because I didn’t really drain or dry them after removing them from the broth). I could basically have crumbled it with my hands, had I wanted to do so (I didn’t).
I’m going to guess that I could use this stuff on my garden, if I wanted. I probably won’t do that, as it seems like a lot of work to go through when I can just as easily go into my local farm and feed store and pick up a bag pre-made for 5 bucks.
I am, however, a sucker for DIY edible projects (I am all about homemade breads, homemade booze, homemade jellies and jams, homemade pickles and kraut, and in the past I’ve taken on the daunting tasks of both homemade baby food and dog food . . . you get the picture), so this homemade bone meal is going to be set aside for our flock of chickens. As our girls are layer hens, they require supplemental calcium in their diets to compensate for all the calcium that goes into making egg shells. We typically put out pans of oyster shells, which they gobble down (I’m not sure I understand the appeal but I guess that’s exactly what our biological imperatives exist for).
Note: While meat and bone meal is an excellent source of protein in poultry diets, it is typically limited to less than 5% of the diet content because of the high calcium, phosphorus, and lysine content of the meal. Source: Feeding Meat and Bone Meal to Poultry
I am all about a good science experiment, so this project was loads of fun for me (if a bit gruesome if I think about it too much).
Thoughts? Have you made bone meal? Do you have any other uses for it?