As we closed up the Modern Stone Age Kitchen for the day, Christina asked me if I wanted some bone broth. It turns out there was a mug’s worth left over from the day’s service in the Airpot dispenser she was about to clean and I gladly accepted. As I sipped on the steaming mug of bone broth I watched the wind whip outside. There really is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a warm cup of nourishing bone broth. As I sipped my broth, I pondered when our ancestors enjoyed mugs of bone broth of their own. It was probably around 20,000 years ago!
Clay pots changed everything!
In fact, I believe pottery technology ranks right up there with stone tool technology, fire technology and hunting technology in how it positively impacted our ancestral diets. With the advent of pottery our ancestors could cook food that included liquids directly on a fire for the first time.
Yes, I know some of you archaeology snobs are out there saying, “Hey! What about cooking in skin lined pits with hot rocks and using stone bowls to cook on a fire? Both of these technologies predated ceramic pots.” And, you are right. In fact, there is even an aboriginal tradition in a part of Australia when after a kangaroo is killed it is cooked whole, belly side up in a pit in the ground and when it is finished the belly is sliced open and the first thing consumed is the “broth” made out of the offal, blood and other fluids naturally occurring in the body!
Although I haven’t cooked kangaroo, I have cooked in skin lined pits using rocks and stone bowls multiple times and none of these methods compare to the versatility of being able to mold wet clay into almost any size and shape you like, fire it to transform it from clay into ceramic, then turn it over and cook directly in it whenever you need.
The power of pots
Almost 30,000 years ago we see the first examples of fired clay figurines in the Czech Republic. Although it remains a controversial site, archaeologist Scotty MacNeish recovered human hand prints preserved in clay that date to the same general time frame from a site known as Pendejo Cave in New Mexico. But, the earliest clay vessels date closer to 20,000 years ago and were found in China. And, clay vessels just like those made all the difference.
Armed with clay pots our ancestors could simply toss the entire lot in the pot! This included bones complete with any connective tissue, meat and fat still adhering to it, meat scraps riddled with sinew and silver skin, feet, etc. fill it with water, throw it on the fire, and forget about it. Over the next several hours or even days magical things happen in that pot to turn it into one of the most nourishing foods on the planet.
Nutrition of bones
According to Healthline the bone yields minerals like calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, and potassium. Bone marrow provides vitamins A, B2, B12, and E, omega-3 and 6, and minerals like calcium, iron, selenium, and zinc. Connective tissue provides glucosamine and chondroitin. And, perhaps most importantly, bones, marrow, and connective tissue are all made up of the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked.
It is one of the simplest things to cook and requires very little ingredients and very little active time. It can be made in a pot on the stove, a dish in the oven, or in a slow cooker on the counter. It is versatile in that it can be drunk like a cup of coffee as a way to start your day, the foundation of almost every soup on the planet, and a fantastic way to introduce flavor and nutrition into a variety of dishes.
Throughout the winter, we will have warm bone broth for you to sip each day and quarts to take home. You can take a class on bone broth at the ESFL or follow the recipe in Eat Like a Human. Or, to get a quick start, here is a quick video we filmed during COVID when we were drinking bone broth daily to ensure we stayed healthy throughout the pandemic.
. Or, to get a quick start, here is a quick video we filmed during COVID when we were drinking bone broth daily to ensure we stayed healthy throughout the pandemic.