I've been wanting to do this for awhile, so when a customer asked me about it, I took the plunge and made it a Sunday project. Though 'rendering tallow' sounds fancy and really like a pioneer-woman thing to do, it was very easy.
Why render tallow?
Unlike vegetable oils that are unstable at high temperatures and oxidize, releasing free radicals that contribute to the breakdown of cells and tissues in our bodies, beef tallow is stable at high temperatures (420F smoke point), making it safer for frying, less susceptible to burning, and tastier.
Aside from cooking, tallow can also be used as a skin salve, in the making of candles and soaps, as a leather conditioner, and in baking pastries, cakes, and pies.
However you choose to use tallow, you'll be delighted at how easy it is to make. Enjoy!
Raw Beef Fat, cut into 1/4" chunks for easier processing/blending.
Pulverized fat in the slow cooker
Melted fat after being in the slow cooker for about 6 hours
Straining tallow into a bowl
Golden Tallow and my thumb.
What you'll need:
- 2-3lbs High Quality Beef Fat (get it here)
- Slow cooker or large stock pot
- A cheesecloth or something similar like muslin fabric, a tea towel, or even a pillowcase.
- Food processor or blender
- Mason jars or another container to store tallow
How to do it:
- Let fat sit in refrigerator or at room temperature for about an hour before preparation to allow it to soften - it will be easier to work with.
- If any meat or vessels on fat, trim it off. Cut fat into 1/4" pieces. You will notice a cellophane-like wrapping around the fat and at the seams. Get as much of this off as you can.
- Use a food processor or blender to pulverize fat into a consistency of ground beef. If using a blender, I found it easier to pulverize in small 1/2 cup amounts at a time.
- Place into a slow cooker, dutch oven, or stock pot over VERY low heat to avoid burning. I placed mine in a slow cooker on the 'Warm' setting, but later turned it up to the 'Low' setting after I was sure it was not at risk for burning.
- Let fat melt until impurities rise to top and there is plenty of golden liquid in your cooker. The impurities will look like little golden chunks. This will probably take 5-7 hours.
- Being very careful because fat will be extremely hot, spoon fat mixture through cheesecloth into a bowl or directly into a glass storage container. Let impurities sit on top and let drain for several minutes to make sure to get all of the tallow away from the impurities. **If you'd rather your tallow be in block form like sticks of butter, strain into a flat storage container so that it can be cut into bars when it's cool.
- Let the tallow cool to room temperature. It will turn a creamy white as it cools.
- Tallow can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, but I am storing mine in the refrigerator for immediate use and the other jar in the freezer to keep it for several months.