I was chomping down on some pork spare ribs for dinner tonight when I got to looking at the bones and wondering, hmm, can I eat this? I know that early humans are suspected to have benefited greatly from the consumption of marrow and I'm pretty sure I've seen a few modern Paleos mention marrow consumption.
So I have a few questions...
The bone marrow from long, hollow bones is easiest to access. Femurs, arm bones, and shanks contain yellow marrow in the hollow part that slides out when you cook them. Bones like ribs, hips, and necks are foamy/spongy inside, so there is no tasty yellow marrow inside. Boiling the bones in water to make stock seems to get some stuff out of the red marrow.
Yellow marrow is almost all fat and has a fragrant, grass-fed smell even from conventional, grain-finished cattle. I would guess that it is rich in fat-solubles.
I make bone stock by boiling bones for an hour with seasonings in a pressure cooker. Adding a cup or two of vinegar like apple cider vinegar helps to dissolve some of the bone. When it is finished cooking, the broth is not too sour to drink because the dissolving bone neutralizes the pH. The bones when finished crumble apart easy in your mouth, and the cartilage is jelly that has soaked up the flavor of the broth. I'm not sure if the glycosaminoglycans in cartilage can be digested and absorbed.
You couldn't be more wrong about cartilage- that is one of the keys to a great stock! A great stock is the ingredient of a great sauce.
Bones come in different shapes and sizes. Small bones from birds can be eaten whole without extra cooking. Ends of bones from cooked meat can often be eaten (and taste great).
Benefits: Bones contain minerals. Cartilage contains cartilage (glucosamine, etc), marrow is healthy fat.
A pressure cooker works, but you can certainly make stock without it. I personally use a crock pot since it's the most hands off method. I just stick my bones and vegetable remnants in there with a little bit of vinegar on high for half a day or so.
A good way to get all this awesome stuff is to make a delicious stock, melt the bone marrow in the oven, use both in your favorite soup recipe. French onion made this way is top notch.
(great question! I love bones)
For me, cartilage is the second most delicious part of beef bones (after the fatty yellow marrow of course)! I routinely eat all the bits of cartilage, tendons and ligaments that surround joint bones. I find they are absolutely yummy once they've been cooked for long enough - they turn soft and squishy and chewy, and have a very mild sort of nutty flavour. They're also strangely filling (perhaps due to their tendency to absorb a lot of water and swell). The tendons and ligaments are particularly easy to eat (these are the first to go soft and edible with cooking) - cartilage takes longer to soften and even then can be a bit on the hard, brittle side. Still worth eating, though (even though it may be an acquired taste).
Cartilage from chicken bones is also good, and cooks much quicker (about an hour). In fact, I often gnaw on the ends of the longer chicken bones, where it's easy to eat the whole cartilage and even a bit of the underlying red marrow.
After cooking meat, mostly lamb, I typically chew on the left over bones to get every last piece of meat. Then cook them for stock. Sometimes they are soft enough to eat up and ingest. mmm good.
Today I had a new experience. Was cooking 4 pig trotters (feet) to get gelatin for my head cheese experiments. Trotters/feet have many bones and are rich in cartilage. After separating most of the meat and skin, I took the big bowl full of bones (hundreds) and nibbled to get every piece of meat and cartilage. It was amazing.
Party food? Forget the tortilla chips and chex mix. Bowls of bones and cracklins at my next party :P
If you just want to eat bones for the sake of nutrition, then cooking whole fish can give you lots of delicate, entirely edible bones (depending on the fish of course, I enjoy this with mackerel). The bones in tinned salmon or sardines are also very soft and so easily edible along with the fish. I assume this is why sardines are such a good source of calcium.
i eat the ! out of some bones...mostly with chicken bones ill chomp off the ends of the legs, chew that to death and suck out the marrow, also eat the cartilage and mostly chew the smaller pieces of bones that splinter til they disintegrate and eat em...