I felt a little foolish saying yes, but as far as I could figure, I had paid good money for it and I wasn't going to turn down anything that could possibly be nourishing food for my family!
The "it" that I'm referring to is all the miscellaneous bones and fat that was left over after the meat was all packaged up (this isn't including the two packages of nice, normal shaped soup bones I received). When I was on the phone with the meat shop, discussing how I wanted my meat cut and packaged, they asked me whether I wanted certain parts of the cow, such as soup bones, and this was the one question I didn't quite know how to answer.
I decided to say yes, thinking that if I was really at a loss for what to do with it, I could always get rid of it, but it was at least worth a shot. This very large bag of bits and pieces has been sitting in my deep freeze now for over 2 months, and in my nesting frenzy (and realizing that I desperately needed the space it was taking up for all the berries that are now in season), I decided to buck up and figure out what to do with it all!
I confess that as I removed the large bag from my freezer and set it on my counter to scrutinize, I was tempted just for a moment to chuck it all out and pretend that I had never taken it from the butcher's. I was out of my comfort zone, already had enough things to do that week, and wasn't sure I really wanted to deal with this bag of random bits and pieces. Nonetheless, I moved forward and I'm glad I did.
The best thing I could figure was to let it defrost enough to separate the pieces, and then split it up into my three largest soup pots. I honestly wasn't even sure what the pieces would be like once thawed, but fortunately I was able to make them fit between the three pots. It turned out that a lot of the pieces were bone with a lot of fat on them, and some of the pieces almost seemed to be straight fat, and others looked a lot like soup bones.
I proceeded as I usually do when making bone broth, letting them sit in cold water with apple cider vinegar for an hour to draw out the gelatin in the bones, and then simmering them for about 12-24 hours, with remnants of celery, onions, garlic and carrots, as well as some seasonings and salt.
In the end, it made an enormous amount of broth!
This is a very, very large stock pot, and it is absolutely full of beef bone broth (there was also another large bowl full of broth besides this)! I think I put 14 1 litre canning jars/yogurt containers full of broth in my freezer and a couple of smaller containers, not to mention a couple of ice cube trays that I filled with broth as well (and popped the frozen cubes into a ziploc bag for when I just need a little broth)!
You can also see in this picture that there is a lot of fat that has risen and congealed while the broth cooled in the fridge overnight. This I have separated, and am planning to take the plunge and try my hand at rendering lard (Edit: Which I now realize is called tallow because mine is beef. :) The process is very similar to rendering lard, and as some have commented that mine is already rendered, now that I re-read some stuff, including having found this tutorial, I think that mine is basically done and I could use it as is). It looks easy enough, and I can't bear the thought of wasting anything that could be used, so I'll let you know how it goes!
Honestly, I felt like I was Ma Ingalls or perhaps a grandmother in the Depression Era as I did all of this. It's certainly not the norm for most housewives, and yet I was so glad that I had done it. Every bit of food that we receive is provision from God's hand, and I want to cultivate an attitude and work ethic that demonstrates my gratefulness for what He has given us, and a willingness to use it all to the best of my ability as I serve my family.
It was a valuable lesson for me in not wasting anything that God provides for us. I'm so thankful now that I took the time to deal with it, and will be happy to use all that beautiful broth, not to mention the tallow I'm about to make, knowing that it is good, wholesome food for my family.
I'm joining in the Pennywise Platter Thursday carnival over at The Nourishing Gourmet, an excellent place to find more ways to frugally dish up nutritious foods!
How do you feel about finding ways to creatively use absolutely everything that you have available to you? Do you ever find it a challenge to take the time and effort to jump over the hurdle of not wanting to be bothered by a difficult, time-consuming or unknown task?