Beef tallow is the rendered form of beef fat. More specifically it is a type of fat called suet which is the fat around the kidneys of the cow. Beef tallow is an ancient fat that was invaluable to people for its versatility, as well as its ability to nourish and restore the human body. Unlike the devastating affects that vegetable oils have had on the health and well-being of our people, tallow is one of the most beneficial oils for our diet and therapeutic skin care. The cell membranes of our skin are made up of 50% saturated fat. Tallow is about 50-55% saturated fat, making it very complimentary to our skin. in fact, in latin tallow means sebum, the oily substance that occurs naturally on our skin. Our ancestors knew the many benefits of beef tallow and used it regularly.
What does Rendering Beef Fat or Tallow Mean?
Rendering simply means heating beef fat to a liquefied state of 130-140°F (54-60°C). Then, straining and storing for later use. The liquid will be a golden yellow tint when still hot and strained into jars, but will turn a creamy white once cooled.
Where Has Tallow Been All These Years?
In the first half of the 1900’s, tallow along with lard was often used for cooking and baking. In the 1950’s these animal fats became vilified by the vegetable oil and healthcare industries for clogging arteries and raising cholesterol. Companies like Crisco marketed vegetable shortening as being cleaner and better for our health than tallow and lard. We now know the exact opposite is true. In fact, up until the 1990’s beef tallow is what Mcdonalds cooked their fries in. Animal fats like tallow and lard are the fats we have evolved with and thrived on for generations. They are preferred by our bodies, not industrial seeds oils. Read my post all about how to render lard here.
So What Exactly Can You Use Beef Tallow For?
Like I mentioned above, tallow is extremely versatile. Use tallow for deep frying and general cooking due to its high smoke point of 400℉. Its a great choice to season your cast iron pan. Tallow is excellent for skin care products and has a long history of effectively soothing, restoring and moisturizing the skin. It can be made into soap and candles. Beef tallow can also be used to extract herbs and make an herbal body oil. Herbal body oiling is my favorite ritual for soothing the nervous system-something I’ll be posting about in the future!
What Type of Fat is Used to Render Tallow?
In order to make true beef tallow, you should only be using suet. Suet is the fat around the kidneys of the cow. You can render other cuts of beef fat and many do or some do a combination of suet and other fats but this would not be true tallow. True tallow is solid at room temperature where as other rendered cow fat has a softer consistency, similar to what butter is at room temperature. Mock tallow as it is sometimes called is still a very nutritious cooking fat and can withstand high-temp cooking, but if you can source true suet you will have an even more nutritious product that will have a longer shelf life.
Grass-Fed Suet – Why Tallow is Better than Other Cooking Oils
The best and most nutritious tallow is rendered from the suet of grass-fed cows. Grass-fed tallow has anti-inflammatory properties.
Tallow is rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grass-fed beef tallow contains a high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent.
Beef tallow properties are similar to the fat and muscle found in our hearts. Studies have shown saturated fats like tallow are actually healthy for our hearts contrary to what most have been lead to believe.
What is the Shelf-Life of Tallow?
When is comes to the shelf-life of tallow your nose knows.
It typically takes a while for tallow to go bad but when it does the smell with be off. The more cracklings and other impurities you strain out of your rendered tallow, the better the shelf-life. If strained well and kept in an air tight container, your tallow will last up to a year at room temperature. If you refrigerate or freeze your tallow it will last much longer. This is the case for true tallow. But for mock tallow or tallow rendered from fat other than suet fat, the shelf-life will be shorter.
Three Ways to Make Beef Tallow
Tallow can be made in the
- Slow cooker
- Stove top.
I use the oven method and place the fat in a dutch oven. I am always pleased with the end result and have not felt the need to try other methods. If you do decide to use the other methods make sure you keep the heat low. You do not want to burn the fat since this will negatively impact the taste of your tallow.
Where Can I Purchase Suet to Make Tallow?
The first place you can try is your local butcher. Some other options are a farmers market or a local rancher. If none of those are an option for you then you can try ordering from US Wellness Meats. Remember that grass-fed suet is the best choice.
How Does it Taste and Smell?
When rendering the tallow prepare yourself for a fairly strong odor. It is not unpleasant but will defiantly be noticed by family members. Luckily, this scent does not carry over to the finished product.
Tallow has a very mild taste that does not transfer much flavor to foods you cook with it. The first straining will be especially mild and unscented.
Can I Re-use Tallow?
Yes! I have reused my tallow many time. I simply strain the tallow back into a mason jar after cooking with it.
How Much Fat Do I Need to Make Tallow?
I can fit about 4 to 5 pounds in my dutch oven, so that is how much i do at a time. This will get me about 6 cups of tallow. Make sure you do not over fill the pot i fill my dutch oven no more than 3/4 of the way full.
How To Make Beef Tallow Step By Step:
- Preheat oven to 225℉. Low and slow is best to render tallow
- Chop beef suet or other beef fat into 1″ pieces. Try to remove as much of the meat connected to the fat as you can. It’s ok if you don’t get everything.
- Fill dutch oven with fat up to 3/4 of the way. We fit about 5 pounds of fat in our dutch oven.
- Cover with lid and place in oven.
5. Every 1-2 hours take pot out of the oven and stir. Place back in the oven and continue rendering.
6. Once about half the fat renders, it is time for the first straining.
7. Strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl. Then, pour the contents of the bowl through a piece of cheesecloth or linen into a jar. Re-cover the dutch oven and place it back into the oven
8. After a couple of hours repeat the straining process until the rest of the fat is rendered. The whole process from start to finish will take about 5-7 hours depending on the amount of suet/fat you start with and the size of your dutch oven. The impurities will rise to the top for you to discard.
Perfect French Fries Cooked in Beef Tallow
One of our families favorite uses for tallow is of course french fries. Tallow is absolutely perfect for this because of it high smoke point. I have found tallow does not splatter like some other oils making the process much less messy and painful! I wont use any other oil again to make french fries. This occasional treat my family enjoys I guarantee will be a crowd pleaser. Tallow is perfect for frying or sautéing anything in your kitchen.