On marrow and in time

May 20, 2010

The drilled marrowbone being heated by embers.

The marrowbone after it has been lying in the embers.

The simmered bone after I've extracted the marrow

Finally, and probably for a short while, I seem to have caught up with time in this blog. Today the plan was to continue doing some slow boiling and to do a experiment with extracting the marrow out of bones. In medieval recipes the instructions are rather clear…simmer and break the bones. “Man skal siuthæ hiortæ been oc sla them syndær thawær the æræ kaldæ. “ However, a find on the Faeroe islands consisted of a lamb bone dating back to the Viking age with a hole drilled into it. After some initial confusion a parallel was found in ethological accounts from Iceland where it was considered bad luck to break a bone. So my plan was to drill a small hole in the bone and then pour out the marrow. In this experiment I used both the method of simmer and break and extracting through the hole

One marrowbone were put in the fire and the other was left to simmer in the pot. The one in the fire were soon smelling like a barbecue gone bad, while the one in the pot kept simmering away. I removed the marrowbone from the fire which had been quite heavily burnt on one side and some of the marrow could be seen bubbling almost carbonised through the hole.

Though some marrow seemed to drip out when I lifted it from the fire none seemed left as I tried to have it pour out of the leg. When breaking the bone I could see that about half the marrow was lost and the other were still clinging to the half of the bone that had not been in the fire. The conclusion must be that it would have needed to lie a bit away from the fire.

The one that had been simmering were taken out after a rather a long time, and given a through whack with the back of an axe. At first it did not appear to break, but I soon realised that the marrow was pouring out on the backside. Though I managed to save the most of it, this could be the reason why the Danish recipe suggested to break them when cold.

The attempt at extracting marrow from a drilled marrowbone will have to continue using a lower temperature next time.

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