Home-Rendered Tallow (It’s EASY!)

May 7, 2012 in Categories: by

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Tallow rendered from the fat of grass-fed animals is my first choice for cooking (with extra virgin coconut oil being a very close second).  The fat profile is outstanding, with a perfect omega-3 to omega-6 ratio (ranging between 1:1 and 1:3) and also containing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which reduces inflammation, promotes healing and may even fight cancer.  It is also a great source of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E and K (there may even be some Vitamin D depending on the source).  Plus, the saturated fat content means that it has a very high smoking point (something like 420F), is highly resistant to oxidation (which also means it doesn’t cause oxidative damage to your cells), and is very stable stored for long periods of time at room temperature (as long as it isn’t in the sun).  I use tallow for braising and sautéing vegetables, browning and frying meat, deep frying, scrambling eggs, and even making kale chips.

The flavor of grass-fed tallow varies, depending on the omega-3 content of the suet/fat you used to make it.  Tallow has a predominantly beefy taste (reminiscent of hamburger), which works really well with just about everything (okay, maybe not baked goods, but everything else).  Very high omega-3 content suet/fat will render to a tallow that also almost tastes fishy (it’s strange at first, but grows on you very quickly, so much so that I’m disappointed if mine doesn’t have that taste).  When I first switched from mainly predominantly using olive oil or butter to cook with, it took a while to get used to the flavor of tallow, even if subtle, in my foods.  Now, I love it.  Tallow is solid at room temperature (almost as hard as cold butter), with a melting point around 110F.  In general, the yellower your tallow, the more nutrient-rich it is. 

 You can buy grass-fed beef or lamb tallow from US Wellness Meats, which is a good option if you are short on time.  But it is so easy to make at home (and cheaper) that I highly encourage you to do so.  First, you need to get some grass-fed fat.  Both GrassFed Traditions and US Wellness Meats sells suet from grass-fed beef.  Another option is to find a local farmer (one of the two local farmers that I buy meat from sells suet from grass-fed beef and from grass-fed lamb).  You can also ask your local butcher for the fat trimmed off their grass-fed meat.  My local Whole Foods tosses this fat as waste and if I can get there the morning that their grass-fed shipment arrives, they give me all the fat for free (it’s usually not that much since the meat they receive is fairly lean, and suet is definitely an easier source of good grass-fed fat, but you still can’t beat the price).

Tallow is very easy to make.  However, exactly how you make your tallow can greatly change your yield.  And I’m assuming that if you are going through the work to make tallow yourself that getting the most tallow you can for your suet/fat investment is important to you.  It so happens that the way to make tallow to maximize your yield is also the best way to preserve the vitamin content too.  So, what is the secret?  Actually, there are two.

The first secret is to chop your suet into little pieces.  If you buy suet from US Wellness Meats or GrassFed Traditions (a division of Tropical Traditions), it will come in a 1lb packaged already chopped into fairly small pieces.  If you get trimmed fat or buy suet from a local farmer, you may have to chop it yourself.  The trick is to chop your suet into as small and evenly sized pieces as you have patience for.  I have seen recipes that suggest using a food processor to do this job, but it just gummed mine up.  I actually find the best way to do this is with a large knife, by hand, while the suet is cold (not frozen).  I aim for ½” cubes or smaller.  I don’t bother chopping pre-chopped suet any smaller than it already is.

The second secret is to heat your suet as slowly and evenly as possible.  I like to use a fairly wide bottomed heavy pot (cast iron is perfect if you have a pot with a lid) on the stove top with the element set to the lowest temperature setting of “lo”.  If you know that your stovetop runs hot, you can use a small element for a large pot to help reduce the heat.  I have also used my stove’s warming zone (which is about the same as the lowest temperature setting of an element).  You could also use a crockpot set on low (and in this case, the lower power your crock pot the better!).  I warm my suet covered to help heat it more evenly.  Now, this takes a long time.  One pound of suet will take between 1½ and 2 hours.  Five pounds of suet will take 4-5 hours.  I stir about once every half hour.  I get better yield from doing smaller batches of tallow; but I also like to just do one batch and get it over with.  Typically though, I render 1lb of suet at a time which yields just shy of 1 pint of tallow.

Your tallow is ready when all the fat has melted.  There will be some floaty grisling bits (which look a little like little bits of ground beef), which you filter out when your tallow is ready.  I don’t like to heat my tallow up to simmering and try to always keep it below that point (again, with yield in mind).  So, the grisling bits aren’t that tasty.  If you want to eat them, I suggest filtering out your tallow and then frying them up at higher temperature.  I filter my tallow through a single sheet of paper towel draped in a metal sieve.  You could also use cheese cloth or a coffee filter.  I keep it in a glass mason jar on my kitchen counter.  If I make a bigger batch and fill more than one jar, I keep the extra jars in the fridge (for really long-term storage, you can also freeze tallow).  If you heat your suet too quickly (which means your element is set to too high of a temperature), some of the fat will crunch up and make something almost like pork rinds.  These are ridiculously delicious so if this happens, so don’t despair (even though it lowers your yield).   

I hope this gives you enough information to feel comfortable rendering your own tallow.  It really is easy and it’s wonderful to have such a healthy and tasty cooking fat around.  You can also use these instructions to render fat from pastured pork to make lard. 

 Ingredients:

1.    If not pre-chopped, cut suet up into ½” cubes.  Place in a large bottomed, heavy pot and cover with the lid.
2.    Place on the stove top and set the element to the absolute lowest temperature. 
3.    Stir every 30-45 minutes to dislodge any sticky bits from the bottom of the pot. 
4.    The tallow is ready when all of the suet has melted (there will be some grisling bits floating as well, which look like little bits of ground beef). 
5.    Place a metal sieve over a glass bowl, measuring cup or jar.  Line with a single sheet of paper towel.  Pour the tallow through the lined sieve into your jar.  Let cool before putting on the lid.
6.    Store at room temperature, in the fridge or freezer.  Enjoy!

Comments

I so appreciate your posting this. I hope to try this with the pastured pork for lard as I’m not a big fan of beef. Will the lard store the same as the tallow?

Beef tallow..yum, glorious! I’m still waiting for my source of pasture fed beef to believe that they should give/sell me some of the beef fat…..

What a comprehensive post and site… nice to meet you! Making tallow is on my To-Learn list. I just made a batch of bone broth and I linked to your posting on its health benefits.

Obviously grain-fed is ideal, but I am having trouble sourcing it where we are. So can I do this with regular beef fat and still get something that is at least healthier than common cooking oils? I can easily get lots of suet from a local butcher, but I don’t think it’s all grain-fed.

I like to braise beef shanks in a really slow (~200F) oven for many hours: 1) you get a delicious broth, and 2) the rendered marrow tallow is milder/sweeter/tastier than suet tallow, IMO.

We are switching from a mostly vegetarian (why is bacon so delicious?) diet to the Paleo diet hoping to ease my autoimmune symptoms. Please forgive me if this question is silly. From the description of making tallow it seems as though tallow might just be beef lard? And it looks like from the comments some people do a combo of the tallow and coconut oil. Have you tried this? These bars look perfect for the road trips we take in summer that usually involve a lot of PBnJ sandwiches… not so paleo and super full of sugar and carbs. Thank you for helping a newby out.

I think you will find that eating more animal protein makes a huge difference! Depending on how long you were vegetarian, you might want to consider adding some digestive enzyme support as you transition since your body’s production of enzymes that break down protein will be suppressed (sometimes labeled as digestive enzymes sometimes as pancreatin). Also, the protein in fish is easier for the body to digest and break down, so eating more fish during the transition may help too (in fact, fish is crazy healthy, so eating more fish is just generally a good idea).

Yes, tallow is just beef lard (it’s called lard when it comes from pigs,and called tallow when it comes from lamb, bison or beef). If you are asking about the pemmican bars, I would suggest refrigerating if you use part coconut oil because it melts below 74F. I haven’t tried it, but see no reason why it wouldn’t work and be very yummy!

I’ve been vegetarian for my entire adult life. So this is a HUGE dietary change for me. I can do white meats with no problem but red meats tend to fight me back. Uncomfortable bloating and stomach cramps. Do you think that the enzymes will help lessen that? If I could open my menu up to red meats it would make dinner planning so incredibly much easier. Most Paleo recipes are easily convertible to white meat but it would still be nice to have some variety.

Please remember that when you consume bacon ensure that it hasn’t been prepared with any nitrates or added nasty additives such as MSG.
Here is Victoria Australia we are lucky to have a supplier that provides smallgoods prepared the traditional way, no nasty ingrediants if you want to learn more just look up this website (I know you can’t get it from here sent to you in the US) its http://www.gamzesmokehouse.com.au
I can recommend two books for you, one is Primal Body – Primal Mind by Nora T Gedgaudas who writes about her treatment from “recovering” ex vegetarians and vegans. The other book is “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith, herself a vegan for twenty years, another fascinating read.
Good luck

I live in northern Canada in a pretty remote location and besides from getting our own wild game, which we do as often as we can, I cannot seem to source purely grass fed beef or pork. I’ve managed to find a butcher that has fat that I can use to make tallow and lard which I would really like to do, but I’m concerned I might be worse off using their fat if it’s not 100% grass fed.

Are there any health benefits even if the animals are probably fed grains as some point? I’ve been going through a lot of red palm oil as it’s the only other fat I can seem to get that I know is good for us. Thank you!

I always roast my bones before I make broth to give a richer depth of flavor. Much of the fat renders off. I remove separate the fat out and everything else goes in the stock pot. I always used this fat in cooking? This wold be considered Tallow right?

I’ve had some tallow sitting in my freezer for a little bit now, and after reading your post, I’m finally ready to give it a try! How long will it keep in a jar on the counter? Also, do you need to thaw the tallow before throwing it in the crock pot? Thank you so much for the post!

My grandmother made this but she boiled the suet in water and let it cool then simply scraped the cleaned tallow off (the grisling bits stays in the water beneath the nice thick layer of tallow).

I’ve seen that other people have already asked this, but there was no reply, so I’ll risk repeating them. Grain-fed is ideal, but I am having trouble sourcing it where we are. So can I do this with regular beef fat and still get something that is at least healthier than common cooking oils? I don’t have the option of ordering lard/tallow/palm oil.

My grandmother always made her Plum Puddings and Fruit Mince Pies at Christmas always with suet, she hand grated the suet for the Plum Puddings and minced it for the pies. I still have her recipe for the pudding and have since substituted it for unsalted butter. I will be inquire to my local organic shop to see if their meat (grass fed organic) supplier can provide suet. I still remember my Nana have an enamel bowl with her “dripping”, she was a brilliant cook and I reckon that her preparing meals the “old fashion way” and putting alot of her love into her food made it so delicious

How long can thawed suet stay in the fridge? I’ve had some in my fridge for about 2-3 weeks. Haven’t had time to make tallow yet but will this weekend if it’s good.

Mine turned white when cooled, did I do something wrong? I used Grass fed beef fat and cooked low and slow…It poured yellow but is now white.

I left my tallow on the counter for about a month while using it. It has black mold on it. Was that too long? Or, did I do something wrong?

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