19

I like to preserve as much as possible from my cooking and trash as little as possible.

With that in mind:

  • can chicken skeleton be made edible?
  • or is there a way for the bone marrow to be extracted and cooked?

Or does it exist a reason for why it is a bad idea to consume chicken skeleton?

  • 37
    Why not make stock? – moscafj Jun 14 '18 at 10:49
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    And when you strain the stock, collect all the little bits of meat that float off the carcass, to put in a soup or curry (following @moscafj's comment) – Chris H Jun 14 '18 at 11:47
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    I save my chicken carcasses (and also beef/pork bones) in the freezer and when I have a couple, I put them into a slow cooker for like 2 days. Makes a very satisfying broth. – Graham Jun 14 '18 at 16:29
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    Hi Svintoo, I appreciate you trying to make a summary of the information you got. The site as a whole wants this kind of information to be easily findable, but it uses a different way to achieve the same goal, by only allowing informative answers to be posted and removing all fluff responses. This is why our question pages are much more structured than forum threads, and your own top post is reserved for the question only, nothing else. So I will roll back your edit, to preserve that structure. I think the readers will profit even more from reading the full answers. – rumtscho Jun 15 '18 at 13:33
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    Are people sure eatable is not a word? It's certainly not commonly used, but seems to appear in a number of dictionaries as valid. I was going to make the same edit myself until I discovered this. – Michael Mior Jun 16 '18 at 19:13
47

Chicken bones have a tendency to 'splinter' when 'mashed' (as in chewed upon), which is why you never give chicken bones to a dog. This applies equally to humans, if we gnaw on a chicken bone it is more like to create a harmful splinter that may find itself lodged in any number of places in your digestive system.

That said, as has been commented above, extracting the flavorful marrow and those 'last little bits' from the carcass can be achieved by making stock. If you are wanting to reduce the waste, I would then recommend drying and grinding the remaining bones to provide calcium into your compost.

[Edit] Interesting comments from @JohnEye & @Molot prompted a bit of research. Here is an article from WebMD that supports my original statement.

Other articles suggest that some people do this, but I would still conclude that it is not safe to do so, though apparently it can be done.

  • 4
    @JohnEye baked or fried bones can be OK. Boiled ones pretty much never are. – Mołot Jun 14 '18 at 13:12
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    If baking a whole chicken in an oven can produce eatable bones then I'm very interested to hear more. – Svintoo Jun 14 '18 at 13:40
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    @JohnEye do you know of a recipe you can link to. I'd be interested in seeing that. – Cos Callis Jun 14 '18 at 14:06
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    The discussion from the second link was very much off topic. We draw the line between safety questions (if you land in hospital, the cause can potentially be traced to the exact portion of food which caused it) and possible long-term health effects. So I removed that part and the related comments. – rumtscho Jun 15 '18 at 13:37
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    The statement "This applies equally to humans" is unsupported -- human teeth are much different from dog teeth. Do you have any studies supporting this? Also, you have not answered the question of whether it is possible to make chicken bones non-splintering for consumption. Of course it is possible, through various cooking methods, so your answer is misleading. – J. Win. Jun 17 '18 at 19:10
15

Pressure cookers will quickly soften most chicken bones. We make stock with our chicken carcasses in a pressure cooker, and the resulting bones can be crushed with fingers, no splintering.

  • 3
    By the time the carcass has been through the pressure cooker, if the bones are 'safe' to eat, is there actually any flavor (or nutrition) left in them? IMHO the bones I pull from the pressure cooker after making broth are 'not appetizing' – Cos Callis Jun 15 '18 at 12:37
  • Some do have flavor and texture, but some are more a sandy pile of calcium (which is still edible, just not as much fun). We definitely depend on the broth for nutrition more than the bones. It's more of a novelty, and we can only eat a few before we lose interest. – mskfisher Jun 15 '18 at 12:44
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    @CosCallis To get an idea of what you find appetizing or not, do you find fish bones such as found in some types of canned salmon or mackerel appetizing? – Michael Jun 15 '18 at 18:56
8

Absolutely!

My wife makes her own dog food out of 1 Lb of rice, 1 Lb of carrots, and the trimmings of 1 whole chicken. After she breaks down the chicken for the meat that the family will eat during the week, all the trimmings, including the bones, are put into a pot and boiled so we get the marrow and gelatin from the bones as well. I'd describe it as making stock except that the liquid is not separated for reasons I'll get back to. Once the 'chicken stew' has cooked, she finds all the bones and puts them into a high-end blender to render into a thick paste we call a 'bone shake'. She puts the rendered bone into the the stew / stock along with the rice and carrots to finish cooking. Once that is done she adds vitamins and other supplements to the batch before dishing out portions for freezing and then we have dog food for several weeks.

We have used everything from the chicken, including the skeleton. We joke that the dog eats better than we do and have had multiple vets give their approval.

Now, for those who ask what this has to do with human food, my response is even though we use this process to feed the dog, there is nothing special about it and would be perfectly safe for humans. The bones are completely rendered in the sense of cook time and safety. Cooking them in the stock makes them safe from a bacteria perspective and using the blender essentially grinds them into particles so small as to eliminate any issues with splintering. In fact, my wife started to make (dog) cookies by adding sugar, flour, salt, etc. I mention this to illustrate the multitude of uses for the bones so there is no reason why the bone shake couldn't be incorporated into other recipes for people.

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    Hello Kelly, I am afraid that pet food is off topic on the site. So the question has to be interpreted as "edible by humans". Do you wish to edit your answer to say that your preparation is also good as human food? If not, we would have to remove it as not addressing the question. I realize that this feels unfair, since you registered to provide a well written answer with an interesting point, and did not know our scope. But we have learned to not compromize on our own quality guidelines, even when we sympatize with the poster. – rumtscho Jun 15 '18 at 16:29
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    So edited, thanks for the feedback. – Kelly S. French Jun 15 '18 at 18:34
  • sorry, but I just had to chuckle when I got to the unexpected sentence "then we have dog food for several weeks." :-D – Michael Jun 15 '18 at 18:57
2

We recently made a chicken bone stock by cooking a carcass in water with a few tablespoons of vinegar. When it was done, the bones had demineralized enough that they could be chewed thoroughly without any difficulty nor observable splintering.

1

Torigara (鶏がらスープ) is a common Japanese recipe most commonly associated with the making of ramen. The recipe usually calls for a whole chicken carcass or chicken bones and using a very long cooking time (eg. 5 to 10 hours) in order to reduce everything to a rich broth that can be made into a ramen. Some recipes call for discarding the bone while I am aware of some ramen shops actually pounding the soup and keeping the crushed bones (which renders down to powder) as part of the soup. The recipe is common in ramen shops all around the world and is safe to consume.

PS, I think the addition of rice-vinegar in some recipes would help breaking down the calcium in the bones faster.

0

Using a pressure cooker and a vitamix blender you can turn the leftover bones into a paste.

  • Tom, welcome! Please don’t post follow-up questions in the answer section - we’re a Q/A site, not a discussion forum. In your special case, asking a professional nutritionist may be a better choice, especially as the scope of acceptable nutrition questions here is rather limited - but more so because the health of your daughter depends on the answer. If you want to learn more about how the site works, I recommend the tour and our help center. Again: welcome! – Stephie Apr 14 at 18:05

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