I know, that’s what I said too when I first heard of bone marrow. What was this mysterious stuff? And would I actually want to eat it?
Initially, when I saw recipes for bone marrow butter, I despaired upon seeing the inevitable butter featured. But then coconut manna came to the rescue!! This stuff is heavenly! Just to die for - and I knew it would be the perfect non-dairy option. And boy, is it ever. It imparts this ever-so-subtle sweetness to the blend. Just. perfection.
And as far as wanting to eat bone marrow? Turns out not only would I enjoy it, I would devour it. It was as though my body was begging for the buttery, velvety stuff. And as I learned, there’s a science behind that craving. As Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple explains, it is extremely nutrient dense, containing nearly 500 calories, 48 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein per (roughly) 3 oz serving. Now before you go worrying about weight gain, let me tell you that I have eaten waaayy more than 3 oz per week and have not gained a pound. Although this is complete conjecture, I suspect that when our bodies need - and use - nutrients from a food, weight gain isn’t as likely. Mark Sisson goes on to explain the importance of bone marrow’s nutrient composition this way:
“As we all know, meat, especially fatty meat, contains more than just a lopsided macronutrient ratio. Meat, or any animal product, really, is the best, densest source of fat-soluble vitamins around. Liver, heart, brains, ribeye are all prize cuts for their taste, their nutrition, and the various bioavailable micronutrients that come loaded in every delicious bite. Plus, marrow isn’t just static stuff inside the bones. It fulfills a role. It fulfills many roles, actually. It’s made of osteoblasts (which form bone cells using minerals), adipocytes (fat cells), fibroblasts (which form connective tissue), and osteoclasts (which are responsible for bone resorption).”
In short, bone marrow improves our brain function. And we could all benefit from that! Also, among the list of more exotic foods like organ meat or fish heads (all extremely nutritious) bone marrow, when turned into butter, is a great “gateway” food because it is just so easy to prepare..and so darn delicious!
So, how to do it? Start by purchasing marrow bones from your butcher / local farm. Grass-fed beef is best, but grain fed will do if grass fed is unavailable. If you don’t know or can’t find a butcher or farm, check out Eat Wild - its search will help you find one in your area. If bones are long, although they can be roasted this way, I find it easier to remove the marrow if they are cut smaller. Just ask your butcher to do this for you, most can. If you aren’t able to get them shortened, just lay them on their sides for roasting.
Defrost bones if they are frozen (you can roast them frozen but it takes about 45-50 minutes). Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover pan with parchment paper and place bones standing up if on the smaller side or tilted sideways if longer. Roast for 15-20 minutes (unless frozen), until bones are browned along top and edges and the marrow is oozing out the onto the pan. You’ll want to get the liquid marrow off the pan before it hardens (it’s easier). Once bones have cooled enough to handle, drain liquid marrow into a bowl or jar and set aside. Using a thin spoon or knife, scoop marrow out of each bone into your bowl or jar containing the liquid marrow.
You can certainly stop here, add some salt and a little rosemary to your marrow, and proceed to slather it on bread, top meat with it, or anything else you desire. I just personally enjoy the taste more after I’ve blended it into a velvety butter. And the slightly sweet nature of coconut butter gives it an out-of-this-world taste. But for the bone marrow purists and lovers alike, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it “naked”, in its original form.
If you’re making the marrow butter, proceed with steps in recipe below. In less than ten minutes from now, you will have delicious, creamy, dairy-free and nutrient-dense bone marrow butter. This will keep for many weeks in fridge - like butter, it has a long life when refrigerated.
Roast marrow bones at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until marrow is bubbling over and bones are browned and crispy-looking.
When cool enough to handle, remove bone marrow with a long narrow spoon or knife into a food processor.
Add coconut manna, flaked sea salt, rosemary and thyme.
Blend until smooth and creamy.
Spread on gluten free toast, crackers, roasted veggies, meat, fish, or eat straight up! Store in fridge (keeps for weeks) or freeze for longer-term storage. When storing in fridge, allow 5 minutes to come to room temperature before spreading.