by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
Another holiday has come and gone but still alive in the hearts of many. Easter is remembered for many things that move our soul and one of them is the Easter dinner.
Back in the day, lamb was considered the main protein to indicate the sacrificial lamb, but as days went by, lamb became more expensive.
Ham, coming from the hog’s hind legs, seemed to have become a staple for the special dinner, as it was easy to cure and store over the winter months. It was also a meat available before new farm life was born in the spring. So, what comes of the leftovers like the bone?
Going way back, hunters and gatherers used every bit of the animal they could as it was considered a precious commodity. They ate and used every part in every way they could think of.
Hunters soon learned that burning down the bone drew out nutrients they could use, and they started by throwing hot rocks in the carcass.
Unfortunately, it’s assumed that they used their hands to handle the hot rocks and hunters soon figured out that a pot of sorts would help. Enter the invention of the pot! Bones were left over a fire in the pot for hours and whatever other food was available was thrown in too, along with water.
Bone broth was huge throughout the centuries and still is today. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended it people for digestive issues.
In history, it was also known to strengthen kidneys, cure colds and asthma, and during the Napoleon era, he gave it to his soldiers to keep up their strength calling it “beef tea.”
Bone broth is highly used in many cultures for its health benefits such as boosting immunity, high in calcium and other essential nutrients for your bones, rich in vitamin A, K2, iron, zinc, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Other than broth, you can use those ham bones for other things such as dog food, fertilizer, and even fish bait.
The one thing they’re famously used for is soup, stew, or boiling them down to use their marrow that contains gela- tin.
So, I’m going to leave you with a fan- tastic navy bean and ham bone soup. I hope you saved your bone!
1 pound dried navy beans
1 ham bone + ham scraps
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 10 cups water
Salt and pepper
1. The Night Before: Place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover with three inches of water. Soak the dried beans overnight (up to 24 hours) to soften. Drain when ready to use.
2. Place a large 6 quart pot over me- dium heat. Add the oil, ham bone, on- ions, and garlic. Sauté for 3-5 minutes to soften the onions.
3. Then add in the drained beans, thyme, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, 10 cups of water, and any re- maining ham scraps. (Do not salt the soup until the end, because ham bones can be very salty.)
4. Bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes, covered, until the beans are very soft. Uncover and stir occasionally, then place the lid back on top.
5. Use a fork to pull any remaining ham off the bone and stir it into the soup. Discard the bone. Add 1-2 cups additional water if the soup is too thick. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.