How to Make Marrow Bone Joint Jelly for your Dog
(This is NOT a Vegan recipe or story.)
Bone broth first became a part of our dog's meals when Angus Lee decided he was a full-on food critic for Yelp! Bone broth impressed our Catahoula food critic. Later when we ran face first into a pitty with 1002 allergies I upped the recipe from broth to cartilage, marrow, collagen, phosphorus, and calcium jelly because Dante DuBois is allergic to ingredients in supplement chews. I haven't found one that doesn't throw him into hives. The liquid joint products have Benzoic Acid, which Dante's skin also hates. You can read all about our itchy allergies and yeast solutions HERE.
Tips and Tricks to marrow bones:
- Buy marrow bones frozen or fresh from your local butcher. Freezing them for later use is a safe option when sale prices kick in. Our freezer consistently contains 20 pounds of frozen marrow bones at the ready.
- I use 6-8 pounds for a batch that lasts anywhere from 1-2 weeks depending on use. I stopped using pill pockets and cheese (also a hive trigger for Dante). I place a pill in the middle of a scoop of warmed, but still semi solid, jelly with meat shreds. No pill survives this Pill Chum.
- A slow cooker or crockpot is the most efficient, cost-effective cooking appliance. This can be done stove top, or in the oven, though. I use two 8-hour cooking cycles with two refrigerated nights to skim off the cold fat that separates. These steps also let the bones cycle through heat/cold helping to pull out all the good stuff from the bones. If you've done this correctly. The first morning you'll find what looks and acts like Jell-O, getting wobbly in your pot.
- Fresh or frozen beef marrow bones locally sourced.
- Filtered water.
- Optional fresh/frozen neck bones or hoof (Look for small bones during the process if adding neck or hooves. Some are edged, some are almost round and look like bone marbles. Be careful and aware and throw these out.)
- Start with 6 pounds of marrow bones (adding neck or hoof when desired). There's no measuring here. Add water until 90% of the bones are submerged. The jelly consistency relies on the proper water/marrow ratios.
- Cook on medium for 6-8 hours the first day. Checking and basting exposed bones.
- Turn off the pot and let it cool to room temperature. Place the cooled pot in the refrigerator overnight. (Never put a hot item in a refrigerator to cool down. This is very hard on the appliance and can cause damage. Turn off your crock pot early enough to cool down to room temperature.)
- Remove the pot from the fridge. You'll have solid fat to skim off the top. Skim the fat and save that for cooking (fat is flavor after all), or for suet for the local songbirds. Check the consistency of your jelly. If it's not jellifying (like Jell-O looks after two hours in the fridge) add another pound of bones.
- Cook again for 6-8 hours. Low to Medium. You don't want a boil to take place, every crockpot is different. Turn off your pot early enough to cool down for the fridge overnight, again.
- Skim any fat still presenting. Cook for 2 more hours and check the interior of your marrow bones, all the marrow should be gone. Meat, cartilage, and sinew should fall off your marrow bones, neck bones, and hooves. Turn off the pot and let cool.
- After cooling to a temperature you can work with, save out the empty bones. Remove remaining cartilage, marrow, and meats from bones not cleaned by cooking, and stir back into the jelly. Screen the joint jelly in its liquid state for small bones, cartilage that won't cut with a metal spoon, and bone pieces that may have been hidden in the frozen bones after butchering.
- Safety first. Consider the size and chew strength of your dog and their age. Older dogs may have teeth/gum issues that make chewing hard. If you've got a gulper (Dante is a gulper, he doesn't bother chewing what's in his bowl.) It's important to remove ungulpable sized pieces. The good stuff is in the liquid, do not be afraid to remove any piece, sinew, or hard cartilage that gives you pause. You know your dog's eating habits and belly rules. Personally, I cut down the hard cartilage to less than half inch lengths and leave them in. I remove all bones.
- Decant into your preferred container for the fridge. Joint Jelly must be refrigerated.
It takes 30 seconds on high to melt down 4 tablespoons of Joint Jelly to a warm slippery consistency. I use a teacup for this process. I add two tablespoons warmed and melted to each meal. Both Angus and Dante eat three times a day. I also serve the smaller sliced raw marrow bones twice a week. For raw eating and chewing. I save all the cooked marrow bones (long and sliced) for in-house bone chews.
Femur and long marrow bones make a great chew after cooking. After cooling, rinse and let dry before serving. They are hard and serve as a tartar fighting bone chew. Bovine long bones are dense and give heavy chewers a workout.
Whether your dog is a food critic, or a hyper-sensitive hive and rash farm, Joint Jelly benefits make a great addition. (If you've got an allergy rocket like me, take a taste test first. Check for any reactions. Beef can set some sensitive dog tummies and skin off.)