How to Render Beef Fat into Tallow

This month with my co-op order, I bought a 5 pound box of beef fat. Beef fat can be rendered into a healthy cooking oil called tallow. It is the beef equivalent of lard, which comes from pigs. I had the option of buying already rendered tallow or lard from the co-op, but it was much more economical to buy the fat (also called suet). At $4.99 for 5 pounds, I thought it was a real bargain. With just a little work myself, I could have a dirt cheap healthy cooking oil, and I can't resist a good do-it-yourself project!


I'm sure right now you're thinking that tallow (and lard) aren't good fats. They're full of artery clogging saturated fats! The opposite is actually true. Grass-fed tallow and lard are two of the healthiest fats around! Here are a few benefits of tallow:

1. Grass-fed tallow is high in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which is actually a fat burner! CLA reduces body fat and increases lean muscle mass. CLA also protects against heart disease and reduces cancer risk.
2. The saturated fats in tallow are important for bone development and brain function.
3. The saturated fats also lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol (HDL).
4. Tallow has a high smoking point so it is safe for high heat cooking and frying.
5. Tallow is extremely shelf stable. It can last years without going rancid.

It's not traditional fats like tallow that are hurting us - it's processed oils like canola, soy, and vegetable oil!

So, if you can get grass-fed beef fat from a reliable source, you've hit a foodie jackpot. You'll need to render it into tallow. Keep the beef fat in the freezer if you're not going to be able to get to it for a few days because it will go rancid. Put it in the fridge or in a cooler a day or so before so that the fat will defrost but will stay cold. It's easier to work with that way.

First, take the pieces of beef fat (there will be all shapes and sizes) and cut it into cubes.


Place the beef fat in a large pot, such as a stock pot. I did all 5 pounds in two batches. Turn the heat on medium-low to medium. In simple terms, essentially what you are doing is "melting" the fat. It won't take long before you start to see oil pool at the bottom.


Continue to let the fat render. It will take 1 to 2 hours, depending on how full your pot is. Stir it every 15 minutes so that it doesn't stick at the bottom. You don't need to babysit it the whole time, but do not leave it unattended with pets or children. Remember to use caution when working with hot oil, as it can be very dangerous and burn! When it is all done, it will look like this.


Wait several minutes for the oil to cool slightly. Then, strain it in a cheesecloth over a colander (do NOT use plastic) over a bowl. If there are any impurities in the tallow, it will not have as long of a shelf life. Some people save the "cracklings" to eat as a snack; I don't like them so I threw them away.


Pour the pure tallow into a large measuring cup with a spout so that you can pour it into glass jars. Be very careful that the tallow isn't still too hot or the glass will break. In fact, next time I might sterilize the jars in a hot water bath much like in canning, that way there is no extreme change in temperature. (If you do this, make sure to throughly dry the jars.)


Leave the jars on the counter to cool. Again, don't stick them directly in the fridge because of the sudden temperature change. 5 pounds of beef fat rendered me 4 quarts and 2 pints of tallow.


When the tallow is cool, set the jars in the fridge and they'll last a year or longer. The tallow will get hard, so on the days you plan to use it, set it on the counter for a few hours first.

Printable: How to Render Beef Fat into Tallow

43 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I should be receiving my quarter cow sometime in the next few weeks, and rendering beef tallow is definitely on my list. I've never done it before, but you make it look rather straight forward. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Michelle SackettJuly 12, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Thanks for the info on this. I have never done this before and I'm excited to give it a try! Can you freeze this to save on refrigerator space?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great explanation! I made beef tallow last year and froze it without any issues.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is great!!! I would love for you to share it on my first ever blog hop!

    http://offthegridat-30.blogspot.ca/2012/07/frugal-i-made-it-tuesday-1.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another great post, perfect for Wildcrafting Wednesday. :)

    ~ Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  6. good lord! haha - look at all that fat! you're set, sister! ...i actually do the same thing with duck fat after i've roasted a duck. i have a few jars in the fridge and often use it to cook with and flavor various dishes.

    p.s. i agree completely - we need fat. but not the scary processed stuff. well done :)

    thank you for taking the time to link up with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop! We hope to see you again this Wednesday with more fantastic seasonal & real food posts :) xo, kristy

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is tallow shelf stable, if put through a water bath canning process?

    ReplyDelete
  8. It doesn't need to be canned to be shelf-stable. I always keep one jar on my counter so it's softened, and the rest in my fridge. I wouldn't recommend keeping it out forever, but it's fine for as long as the jar's use.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post! I have been using lard in my cooking for quite some time, but not tallow. I will have to call the local butcher to see if it is available.

    I would love to have you share this at Wildcrafting Wednesdays!
    http://www.theselfsufficienthomeacre.com/2012/12/wildcrafting-wednesday.html

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for this information! It looks fairly simple. I am guessing this would be good for soap making as well? Have you ever tried it with beef tallow? We will be raising a meat cow soon and I would love to utilize every single bit of it. I have always boiled the bones in the past for the broth but have never used the fat (what a shame!)… Well, we live and learn! The health information about the beef fat is very much appreciated! Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great article. I do have a question: Is it necessary to trim the "meaty bits" before you render the fat? Some articles say to do so, and some do not. I am in a quandary. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes and no
      if you dont trim then you have lots of solids to filter out and more crackling to snack on

      Delete
  12. Thanks for the instructions. I just knocked out a batch last night. For my first attempt I did about 2# of beef fat and got a return of just over a couple cups. I might have been able to do another pass to get a bit more but it was getting late and close to freezing temps out. I elected to do this outside in a slow cooker and glad I did. My concern now is will that smell be noticable whenever it’s used? It still had that smell a bit even after turning a nice white color. Just a bit concerned about that odor. Definitely glad I did it outside!

    ReplyDelete
  13. In my experience, beef tallow has never had a noticable smell. In fact, I have used it in a couple of baked goods recipes in a pinch.
    I do notice a smell when I render pork fat into lard. Smells like bacon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am wondering how long it would be safe to leave out side of the refrigerator. I am planing on useing it to fry French frays in my deep fryer and I want to leave the fat in the fryer when not in use. Would you think that would be a safe thing to do?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Do you remember which producer you bought from? I've been keeping an eye out for it on the coop's website but, they may just be out right now.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Lucy, I don't remember right now, but I might recognize the name if I saw it. None of the producers have had beef fat in a while.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hello,
    I've rendered sheep fat (this is what a could get this week) and it smells....I need it for cosmetic use, so, what can I do to get rid of the smell of... well - sheep?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  18. Linked to your wonderful Organic Wife tallow page from Facebook --- http://tinyurl.com/organictallow . Thank you! Great stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  19. If I bought beef fat thats not organic, will that be artery clogging? Does it have to be organic grass fed for it to be healthy for you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as it's real beef fat, it will be better for you than a lot of oils from the store. If it's not grass-fed, it won't have as many vitamins. Just do the best you can and use real, whole foods that your grandmother would recognize.

      Delete
    2. Non-pastured beef is also lower in the "good fats" than pastured. See the book "Pasture Perfect" by Jo Robinson.

      Delete
  20. where can i buy a box of beef fat?

    ReplyDelete
  21. We raise pastured meat chickens, and I started rendering the fat after reading about its nutritional benefits in Backyard Poultry. It is great for cooking.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for the great article! I just published a link here: http://consuming0culture.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/caveman-eats-gazelle-twin/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Bob Minnesota
    I took 4 pounds of frozen suet and put it in a cast iron dutch oven with the lid on.... put that in the oven at 350F for a few hours. removing occasionally to cut the the suet into chunks with a scissor and check progress. When it looked like it was done... I removed it from the oven and ladled through a strainer into another steel pot. I pressed the cracklings in the strainer with a solid potato masher. I ended up with crystal clear tallow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that Bob - I was thinking of using the oven method, or the crockpot. Either seem a little more forgiving than the stove top, as I am easily distracted. I have leaf fat from around the kidneys and am hoping for pastry/baking quality tallow. I'm in MN too - north central.

      Delete
  24. Where do you go to find the grass fed beef fat? most places I know don't sell the "fat".
    Also, does tallow have a certain smell or strong taste? i would love to try making tallow as it has been in my agenda for so long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cece, you can buy grass-fed beef online from a trusted source like US Wellness Meats: http://bit.ly/1joYovM
      Tallow does have a distinct smell, but when you cook with it, it dissipates and unless you're using too much, you shouldn't taste it either.

      Delete
  25. Thank you so MUCH! I am going to be getting several pounds from a friend who just started raising beef cattle, grass-fed with grain (they get from a neighbor) left out as a choice, and my grandmother knows how to do pork fat into lard but never learned how to do beef fat and she's not sure if they were the same or not.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just wanted to add that I went to Earth Fare and requested the fat trimmings from the steaks. I got about 1.5 lbs and made about 3/4 pint. The butcher said that he had been doing that for 17 years and that people used to get the fat all the time back when he started, but now no one EVER asks and hasn't for years....not for the sake of cooking with it anyway! Long story short, you can get it from Earth Fare if you ask. It cost me $1.29.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just bought some ground suet to cook with for $0.50lb in Fort Worth tx !! Great for everything, didn't strain the tallow as it's ground already and gives tasty specs of goodness for my breakfast in my cast iron lodge :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. I don't have the time or resources to make tallow. But, I want to buy grass-fed tallow. Where can I buy it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would check your local farmers' market or food cooperative.

      Delete
  29. Hi Cristina! Thank you for the post. As a student I don't have much time to go through the whole process using a pot. I am curious to know if it is possible to shorten the process by using a pressure cooker? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure, as I don't own a pressure cooker and so have never learned anything about it.

      Delete
  30. I get my beef from the butcher for $0.05 a pound. I grind it with my meat grinder then render it. my question is what can you use the left over meat/fat it looks like ground beef. also I put the pot in the frig over night and pull off the tallow the next day, what is left looks like gelatin what is a good use for it. Thanks Ron

    ReplyDelete
  31. I use my slow cooker to render fats. And I freeze what I will not be using right away as my fridge is full of kifer, milk, cream cheese and the such. :) Love my lard!!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Whats the best way to freeze? I am considering using muffin trays and making puks.
    Any advice appreciated. I have frozen jars but found it hard to get out of jars when tajen from the fridge.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I don't have an oven. Can I use a slow cooker?

    ReplyDelete

Pin It button on image hover