Rendering tallow is the process of melting out the impurities found in suet or beef fat in its natural state. After straining out the impurities, you are left with tallow that is packed with nutrients and useful for several things.
All you need is a crockpot or stock pot and a cheesecloth (or an improvisation for a cheesecloth) and you will have a healthy cooking fat to use in all sorts of dishes!
What Is Tallow?
Tallow is the fat or suet from a cow, sheep, or bison that is rendered or melted and the impurities removed. Tallow from dairy breeds tends to be more yellow while other breeds will produce a whiter color. Neither is better than the other, just different!
Rendered pig fat is lard.
Rendered chicken fat is called schmaltz.
Rendered butter is called ghee.
Tallow has had a variety of uses for centuries, but has primarily been replaced by hydrogenated oils and synthetic products.
How To Find The Best Beef Fat
When working with tallow, you should get the highest quality possible. Tallow is made from the fat of cows, bison, or sheep. These are ruminant animals, meaning their digestive systems are designed to naturally filter out toxins. Grass-fed tallow contains more vitamins and nutrients than grain fed. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the animal you are getting the tallow from is raised well and is handled with care and cleanliness. The best way to do this is to find a local farmer who raises their own grass-fed beef and visit the farm. Many of these types of farmers will willingly share exactly how their animals are raised and cared for. Something that is not easy to find in corporate America where businesses cut corners. The Weston A. Price Foundation is a great resource to find local farmers.
Tallow Benefits & Uses
What is it that makes tallow so special?
Benefits of Tallow
- Since tallow is an animal product, it actually mimics the cellular makeup of the oil in our skin making it more easily absorbed and used by our bodies. In other words, the skin basically recognizes the oils within tallow as its own leading to a far superior and deeper hydration when used topically.
- It is loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K, antioxidants, collagen, and essential fatty acids.
- It is also antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory.
- It has a high smoke point, so it won’t oxidize like processed vegetable and seed oils.
- Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats are essential for human function. The base component of many of our hormones is cholesterol. Our body needs cholesterol and healthy saturated fats that can be found in tallow. Additionally, it is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is cancer resistant, and saturated fats
- Cooking Oil (fries, hamburgers, veggies, anything you can think of!)
- Body Butter Lotion
- Face Lotion (I know it sounds weird to smear beef fat on your face, but it’s actually great!)
- Conditioning Leather
- Shave cream
How to Render Tallow
There are a couple ways to render tallow. You can wet render which is done using water or dry render. I stick with dry rendering since it seems simpler to me and there is no need to worry about your tallow going rancid from being exposed to water.
What You Will Need:
Quality fat (also called suet)
Crockpot or stockpot
Cheesecloth or improvised cheesecloth material (you will need something to strain out fine bits)
1. Start off with the cold fat. It is much easier to handle and cut. Cut up beef suet into small cubes, trimming out any bits of blood, gristle, or meat. This will help it melt and render more quickly.
2.Add suet chunks to a food processor and process until it is the consistency of ground beef. If you don’t have a food processor, that is okay. Chop up the suet into smaller pieces to help it render more quickly.
3.Place suet in a crockpot for 5-6 hours on the “low” setting. If your crockpot tends to run hot, turn it to the “warm” setting. The alternative to the crockpot is the stove top in a large stock pot. Turn it on a low heat. This method is a little quicker, but it is important to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to make sure it is not burning. Whichever you choose, make sure to use a very low heat. Too high of heat risks burning the tallow and gives whatever you make with it an unpleasant taste and smell.
4.You will know it is done when there is a clear liquid at the bottom of your pot and little bits of gristle floating on top. Pour through a cheesecloth, straining out the gristle and meat.
5.Pour liquid tallow into a sheet pan or 9×13 pan. This works better for storage than pouring into a jar. Hardened tallow in jars can be a huge pain to dig out! Pour the liquid about 1in thick and put in fridge to harden. After it hardens, cut into brownie-sized chunks for easy use.