These have been quite a conversation starter. “Are those bones on your counter ?”, “Why, yes they are !”. I’ve actually meant to take them down to the root cellar, but my procrastination has at least yielded some entertainment. I make stock with the marrow bones from our beef order, and then I rinse them off and save them. You might be asking why at this point. Simple, it’s for the trees ! I have plans for adding a few fruit trees to the garden this spring (and also raspberries). Trees need phosphorous for good root development, and since phosphorous is not very mobile in the soil, it helps to add a source to the hole when planting. Bone meal is a good way to get phosphorous ! So into the hole go the bones. Granted, these will be more of a long term source of P due to the fact that they aren’t ground, but hopefully the trees will be around a long time.
Phosphorous has been on my mind as of late. I have a high pH soil in the garden (7.8, we’ve got calcareous soils in these here parts) and it means phosphorous can become unavailable do to reaction with all that calcium. Nutrient balancing in general is a goal for the the veggie gardens this year, but that is a whole other post !
Wow, my initial determination to get projects recorded here in a timely fashion didn’t last long. First off, there was the pre-Christmas rush, and then the whole family came down with the flu for the Christmas holidays (and beyond). We’re just finally (mostly) back to normal this week.
So, backing up a bit. In early December our much anticipated mixed quarter of grass fed beef arrived ! We’d been buying grass fed ground beef at our butcher for over a year, but they don’t carry other cuts, and it’s not certified organic. At various times in my life, I’ve been vegetarian, or mostly vegetarian, but after a nasty bit of illness 3 years ago I found out I’m gluten and corn intolerant (possible celiacs) and dairy doesn’t do the body good anymore either, so my diet had to change. I did the gluten free substitution thing until this past year, but still was having issues with grains in general (and sugar). As a result, I decided to go grain free, and luckily there is a whole world of people out there following the paleo diet so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. My favourite recipe site.
Which brings me back to the beef. I wanted to be supporting a small scale local farmer and the O’Brien farm fit the bill. I also want to be as sustainable as possible, make my budget go as far as possible, and utilize as much of the animal as possible. I haven’t quite made it to liver yet, but I was supper excited about getting more marrow bones for stock, and rendering my own tallow.
Since rendering tallow seemed pretty straight forward it was one of the first things I did after safely getting our meat tucked away in the deep freeze. Actually, the first thing I did was to order Shannon Hayes book on cooking grass fed beef. HIGHLY recommended !!! Preping the beef fat was simple. I chopped it up fine, added it to my slow cooker, put it on low and left it for the night. OK, now here is the part that I haven’t seen mentioned before. Grass fed beef smells, well, grassy. At least to me. Granted, I do have an overly sensitive sense of smell. The fat, once it started to melt was particularly pungent. Nobody else in the house seemed bothered much, although they did admit to a smell. I on the other hand wanted to run screaming from the house ! Fortunately, it was all done by the next day, and once cooled the tallow lost most of it’s smell. Surprisingly, when re-heated for cooking (I use tallow to sear our meat) it has a much less noticeable odour. The final colour of the liquid tallow was also interesting; bright yellow, practically florescent ! I hoping that’s all the good stuff from the grass. Once cooled it was much more cream coloured but still definitely on the yellow side.
I’m hoping this will last me for awhile, at least until I can have all the windows open !