Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to Render Beef Fat into Tallow

So, in case you guys didn't think I was weird enough with making soup out of beef neck-bones, washing my hair with coconut milk and aloe vera gel, and using magnesium oil as my deodorant... then this will surely convince you of my craziness. Like I have said before, I get my  pasture raised beef from a local farmer. You can check out their website here. They are wonderful people and truly care about their animals and their profession. Recently they saved some beef fat for me to render into tallow. 

Yep, that's right. I rendered huge chunks of beef fat into tallow, and I eat it, and it is delicious. 

I admit that in the middle of the process, I thought to myself, what the heck did I get myself into?? But, I found a rhythm and in the end it was totally worth it. I will walk you through the process. 

Intimidating? Yes. 

I had to look at it from all angles. Then I just had to cut off a piece and jump in. 

I took little chunks at a time, trimmed off any meaty pieces or veins. 

Then, I chopped it into small pieces. Since it is pure fat it was easy to chop. Just like cold butter. 

I put a little bit into my new dutch oven (thanks Mom!) on low heat and let it slowly melt, and let the fat render out of the tissue. 

This is after 45 minutes. I think from start to finish each batch took about 2 hours. But I had plenty of things to do, so it wasn't a problem to keep an eye on the stove and stir occasionally. 

Working at the pile slowly. Trimming, slicing and dicing.

I finally finished all the trimming and have a few big pieces left to chop. On the right I have all the extra pieces of meat and bones. There was still good fat on the meat, so I put it in a separate pan and let the fat render out as the meat cooked. It still produced good tallow, just with a very slight beef flavor, which I am using for sautéing. The bones I roasted in the oven, drained off the tallow from the pan and put the bones in a crockpot to make broth. 

Quick side note: When I have lots of broth and don't have a use for it right away. I will take the strained broth, put it into a stove pot and cook it down to a concentrate. Then I pour it into ice cube trays to freeze and use like bullion cubes. It is so convenient and great for incorporating more broth into your diet because you can pop a cube into tomato sauce for pizza, or into a pot of mashed potatoes, or in soup. It also saves space in the freezer! 

This past week, after the move, I got sick with a cold. For three days I drank broth with chili and garlic in the morning instead of coffee and I think it helped me get better faster! It was so nice to just pop 2 cubes in a pan with some water and spices and have it ready 5 minutes later. 

There is a lot going on in this picture. I have strained out the first batch from the dutch oven and have crackling's in the colander. I have a pot halfway done on the back of the stove and filled the dutch oven with a new batch. In the pan under the colander I have the meat trimmings rendering as well. It was at this point in the process that I considered myself crazy and decided never to initiate this greasy messy process again.

Word to the wise: put down wax paper where you are pouring the strained tallow into jars. Or else it makes a big mess. Don't ask me how I know this. 

After straining out once, I added the cracklings to the pan to cook down some more. I got at least another cup of tallow from cooking it down a second time. 

Before I was using a pyrex measuring cup to go from bowl to jar and that just caused more of a mess. So I found a bowl that allowed me to pour straight into the jar without running all over the sides of the bowl. After that things became a lot easier.

 I finished rendering everything and filled all my jars. The tallow hardened into a beautiful creamy white color (which is not shown well in the poor lighting of this picture). I finished this process after it was dark outside and the coloring in the photo is very yellow. I ended up with around 15 lbs. of pure grass-fed tallow. After everything was done and I made Chris a batch of homemade biscuits with the tallow I decided it was all completely worth it. 

So far, I have used the tallow for seasoning vegetables, sautéing, cooking eggs, and making biscuits. I also use it as a lotion on my hands and legs. It doesn't smell as good as coconut oil, but it absorbs better and is full of fat soluble vitamins such as E, K, A, and D that are SO good for our skin. Eventually I will make a balm with essential oils to cover up the tallow smell, but for now it works great to simply scoop some out with a spoon and rub on my hands after washing dishes. It is also one of the main ingredients used for soap making. Which I plan on dabbling in this summer. 

All in all, this was a great experience and I learned a lot. I hope this was helpful and I encourage you to find a local butcher or beef farmer and see if they have any extra beef fat that they will give you or sell you at a low price. Many times it just gets thrown away, and with a little bit of work you will have a wonderful, healthy and economical cooking fat to add to your kitchen and to your skin care routine!

I don't want to cause confusion, and wanted to mention that I rendered the tallow several weeks go in our old house. That's why all the pictures show our old kitchen. 

Have you ever tried tallow? Did you like the taste?

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