Fun fact: Bone marrow has iron in it. Which means this whipped bone marrow recipe is one more way to bring meaty minerals into your baby’s diet.
Bone marrow is also fatty. And as an iron-rich fat, you can use it in sweet and savory dishes alike, making it a wonderful source of heme iron for babies who’d rather eat a sweet potato mash over liver pate or a lamb chop.
Why bone marrow rules my world
There are some foods for baby that I literally obsess over. These foods are largely underused and yet packed with many of the nutrients that babies need.
Liver is one. And bone marrow is another.
Bone marrow is found inside of bones. And it’s a production powerhouse, full of life-giving stem cells – pumping out red blood cells, white blood cells, bone cells, and fat cells.
Bone marrow also has vasculature moving blood to and fro. And where you find blood, you find iron.
Iron is a big deal for babies. It’s a meaty mineral that I love to love. You can find hints of my obsession all over the place – on Instagram, in blog posts, and in this online program for beginning solids. Chances are, your pediatrician is also interested in your baby’s iron levels.
- Iron is brain food. For example, research reveals that babies who are anemic before the age of two have lower scores in school achievement and cognition from 4 – 19 years of age.
- Iron supports myelination. It turns out you can find quite a bit of iron in the brain cells that produce myelin. Myelin-making brain cells = white matter in the brain…and white matter = intelligence.
- Iron deficiency cannot be undone. Even when corrected, low levels of iron during babyhood – or iron deficiency anemia – has been found to impact language development, motor development, and emotional development.
As with most things, there’s a balance to how much iron you give your baby.
Food naturally rich in heme iron (such as liver, cuts of beef and lamb, the dark meat of chicken, shellfish, and bone marrow) positively supports your baby’s iron levels. Even when eaten in small amounts, as babies do.
Bone marrow has roughly 2.7 mg of iron for every four tablespoons – which is equivalent to what you find in one tablespoon of liver. This is more iron than you’d find in pork, poultry, lamb, and some cuts of beef.
Bone marrow is known for its ability to deeply fortify the body. If your baby shows signs of “failure to thrive,” such as slow weight gain or not reaching developmental milestones, offer your baby bone marrow more frequently and in the place of fats like butter and ghee.
How to pick + handle marrow bones
When roasted, bone marrow is a jiggly white and pinkish blob with brown ends (this is why we whip it).
While you can find plenty of marrow within the center of the bone, there are all sorts of nooks and crannies around the ends of the bone where marrow can get stuck.
You can get around those nooks and crannies (and the most bang for your buck) by asking for a long cut.
Also important: Avoid ends when buying marrow bones, which are made of hard red marrow. Choose cuts from the center of the bone.
Should you soak your bones before roasting?
In Odd Bits, chef and author Jennifer McLagan suggests soaking bones in salted ice water to remove blood.
But blood contains iron. And since we’re celebrating this unctuous meat butter because it’s a fairly good source of iron, skip the soak.
Whipped bone marrow recipe
Cara Nicoletti – sausage maker extraordinaire – makes bone marrow look beautiful and presentable by WHIPPING it. With a whisk attachment. In a bowl. How easy is that? And the results are worth it.
If you follow the principles of baby-led weaning, use like you would butter or any other fat – for example, mashed into a starchy veggie, like sweet potato or squash.
If you are working with purees, add whipped marrow to your puree.
- 3 lbs beef femur bones, from the midsection of the bone
- Heat oven to 425 F. Place marrow bones, marrow side-up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven. After the bones have cooled enough to touch, scoop the marrow out and into a bowl. Also, pour all fat from your baking sheet and into the bowl. Place it in the refrigerator.
- Once the marrow is cold (the fat should firm up), use a mixer with a whisk attachment to whip until the bone marrow is white and fluffy.
- Whipped marrow lasts 3 weeks in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
Have you made this bone marrow recipe before? What’s your favorite way to use it?