If you knew me back in the late 80s and 90s, you would totally get that this is something I never thought I would do. I mean, I was eating fat free frozen yogurt and Swedish Fish and fat free cheese and *gasp* Butter Buds. I would hardly let butter or olive oil come near my lips and I certainly had never even heard of something as gross as beef tallow!
Now I know that fat is good for me and helps me feel satiated, gives me energy, helps balance my hormones, balances my weight, feeds my brain and so, so much more.
But still, rendering tallow? I can buy healthy fat at the store and online. Why would I render my own tallow?
Well, I have gone all Little House on the Prairie and am fermenting foods, making kombucha tea, cooking with lard, soaking my grains and, yes, rendering my own beef tallow. It's nuts!!! Stick me in a bonnet and prairie dress in a log cabin in Walnut Grove and I will be right at home!
If you know me personally, you know how true this is! Check out this pic of me standing in the ruts of the Oregon Trail. (I may or may not have cried seeing these ruts and pretending to be a prairie mom looking in the distance after my daughter).
What is Beef Tallow?
Beef tallow is rendered fat from a cow. It is as simple as that. It is fat that is rendered from suet (cow fat). Tallow is solid at room temperature. Basically it is the cow version of lard. Tallow can be stored for periods of time without refrigeration making it a great fat to keep by your stove, ready for cooking! Can also be kept in the refrigerator or frozen for long periods of time.
What Do You Use Tallow For?
You can use tallow for so many things. Of course, cooking with tallow is what comes to mind for many and what will be my primary use. But tallow is also good for:
- soap making
- laundry soap
- candle making
- conditioning leather
- lubricating things (think nature's WD-40)
- skin care such as tallow balm and natural petroleum-type jelly
- lip balm
Isn't Beef Tallow Bad For You?
No, it isn't. This post is going to be more about how to make tallow so I won't delve too far into the whole ‘low fat craze was a farce' and ‘saturated fat (from pastured animals) is necessary for you' deal. Here are some great posts on the health benefits of beef tallow and saturated fat: Some Recent Studies on Fats, Primer on Animal Fats and The Truth About Saturated Fats.
Grass fed beef tallow:
- Contains high levels of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) a type of fat that has been shown to reduce heart disease and reduce the risk of cancer
- Contains high levels of Vitamin A, D, E and K
- Contains high level of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (the fatty acid profile is similar to fish)
- Is rich in antioxidants
- Is rich in anti-aging antioxidants
- Is rich in vitamins A, D, E and K that nourish the skin directly
- Is easily absorbable as beef tallow closely resembles the human skin cell structure
- Tightens and maintains integrity of skin cells
- Promotes skin cell regeneration
How Do You Make Beef Tallow?
I had purchased some ‘beef suet' from my farmer, Wallace Farms quite awhile ago but was honestly feeling abit overwhelmed with what to do with it. “Rendering” tallow seemed complicated, messy, smelly and…well, just weird. So I ignored it. It stayed in my freezer for close to a year, constantly getting reshuffled as I would take things out and put things in my deep freezer.
Finally, I decided to just take the plunge and MAKE THE TALLOW!
I looked at Kelly's post on rendering lard but really wanted to use the crockpot. It just seemed easier. Isn't the crockpot ALWAYS easier?
I found gobs and gobs of tutorials and realized that this was easy as could be!
First I took my suet (partially frozen to be easier to cut)…
And cut it into chunks. I tossed the chunks in my food processor.
I pulsed and pulsed the suet until it looked like this:
PS (I don't know why I didn't take any more pics! I will have to do this again so you can have crockpot pictures!)
Then, I tossed it all in a crockpot, with 1/2 cup water, and set it on low and let it go. That was it. Every hour, I would stir it and check on it. After about 6-8 hours, the fat was all melted and there were crackling at the top.
I took a cheesecloth lined strainer and strained the hot fat (be careful…it is hot!). The gorgeous clear fat went into my pint size mason jar. As it cooled it turned a gorgeous creamy white color. I love using this for eggs, veggies and so much more!
I Don't Want to Make Beef Tallow; Now What?
Even though this process is easy as can be, sometimes people just don't want to ‘go there' or don't have access to grass fed suet. If that is the case, I highly recommend you order tallow from Fat Works or US Wellness Meats. Both companies have amazing tallow (already rendered and ready to go) from pastured, quality animals.
Are you going to give it a try?