If you look at a calendar, or even out the window, you will notice that it’s the middle of August. Time for making a last trip to the beach. Closing up the cabin. Stocking up on school supplies. Getting ready for the Qigong retreat. And, depending on where you live, drooling over garden catalogs for fall and winter planting.
It is, in my world, also time for contemplating new moons and journeys winding to a close/start.
And, today, it’s time for alchemy. With paint brushes, certainly. And, especially, in the kitchen. Today, I am boiling bones.
You see, Spike needs some soup.
Spike is an old guy who’s having a tough time. He looks a lot like Spike Too. Spike Too was rescued this week and taken to his new home where he is now in charge of greeting.
I am in charge of soup.
Or, more specifically, bone broth, which is one of the things in my medicine basket. And one of the things that just insisted on showing up in my Legend painting, back toward the beginning of my Color of Woman journey through the world of Intentional Creativity.
Soup doesn’t “fix” everything. It does, for many, many of us, make life’s journeys easier.
So here, at the special request of my very talented photographer friend, Kristen Alexander, is a contemporary, minimalist version of the alchemical formula for turning bones into comfort and major nutrition for your 4-footed, carnivore friends.
And a quote from one of my wise Red Madonna teachers, Havi Brysk Mandell:
What if we could be passionately and openly curious about what is in our own medicine basket?
While nobody loves a battered, patina-ed, old stock pot more than I do, I’ve developed quite a fondness for an 8 quart Instant Pot Duo when it comes to this kind of project. Please adjust times and amounts according to your particular equipment and process.
Place 2 – 3 pounds of grass-fed beef “bones” into your pot. A mix of rib and knuckle bones, some beef tendons if you can get them, beef feet if they fit in your pot (or lamb feet if you can find them), leftover bones (not spit upon!) from cooked steak/roast beef, etc. will work. I especially like short ribs and beef tendons for this.
You could also use chicken, lamb, or goat bones, depending on what’s available. Even venison or rabbit. A mix of roasted and raw is great! Feet and necks are healthy, inexpensive options. Choose the cleanest, highest quality bones you can find. Grass/pasture raised, local, sustainably farmed, etc.
Add aromatics as desired. (Not all herbs are appropriate for pets. If in doubt, or trying to address any particular conditions, ask your vet!) I use 2 – 3 fresh bay leaves and about a nickle sized bundle of thyme from my garden. Carrot feathers, parsley stems, celery, etc. can also be used but are not necessary. Most experts suggest not using onions or garlic for pets.
Add 1/4 c. organic apple cider vinegar “with the mother”, which pulls helpful nutrients from the bones, plus cold water to the fill line of your Instant Pot or about 2 inches from top of a standard stock pot.*
If using an electric pressure cooker, set it for 2 hours at high pressure. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Cool, enough to strain. Please do NOT feed your pet cooked bones!
*If cooking on the stove top, longer is better. Bring to gentle boil. Skim and discard any foamy stuff that forms on top. Reduce heat to simmer. Tiny bubbles! Cook 12- 16 hours for poultry broth, up to 24 hours for beef, etc.
Chilling is important. Insiders use a chill stick to speed cooling, which is simply a small, stainless water bottle with a screw-on lid, about 2/3 full of water and frozen in advance. When the side of your pot is comfortable to hold your hand against, place it, covered, in the fridge. A really good batch will look a lot like jello when thoroughly chilled.
You may pick out any meaty or cartilage bits to feed your pet, if desired. Most of the nutrients are already in the broth but, especially if they are ill or old, and having trouble eating, they may enjoy the cooked bits. Our three Newfie rescues are raw fed so, while I add bone broth to their diet for joint and immune protection, I don’t feed them cooked meat. Again, if in doubt, ask your vet.
That’s it! Gather. Cook. Strain. Chill. Make your fur-baby happy.
Store broth in fridge for up to 5 days or in freezer for up to 6 months. I freeze in BPA-free plastic and leave an inch of head space for expansion as it freezes. Be sure to label!
And, for versions of bone-boiling alchemy your human family will enjoy, see my Amazon bestseller, Let’s Boil Bones… available in Kindle books and coming soon in paperback.