Monday, January 30, 2012
Well, I finally got a huge job that had been looming large over my head finished. I got all the fat from the 1/2 side of grass-fed beef that we bought rendered into tallow. It amazes that 1/2 of an entire cow only had six and a half quarts of fat on it.
I basically followed the same procedure as when I rendered lard a couple of months ago, except I did it in a bit lazier way. Instead of chopping all of the fat into 1" pieces, I simply put the slabs of fat into my containers whole. They were pretty large and I just didn't have space to chop it.
Both crock pots and my 9 quart Dutch oven were completely full of beef fat. I set both crock pots and the burner on my stove to low and let them be.
As the fat began to melt, I strained it into quart jars through a cheese cloth. Eventually I was able to add the fat from the red crock pot to the Dutch oven to save counter space.
These pictures show the liquefied fat during the melting process. This is what I pulled out with a ladle and strained into jars. I kept at this until there was no more fat to be rendered.
The fat in the crock pot was finished first. Here you can see the hard bits left over after the fat was completely liquefied. I need to mention that this makes your house smell like heaven while it's cooking. The bits of meat that are left on the slabs of fat when the cow is butchered are irresistible to certain meat-loving husbands, too. :0)
The Dutch oven still had a way to go by the time the crock pot was finished. This could have been because it was so much larger. I actually preferred this pot because the cast iron is wonderful at holding in heat evenly, allowing me to use a lower temperature to render the tallow. This is preferable, in my opinion.
All in all, it took 3 days for all of the fat to be rendered into tallow. There was very little I had to do during that time, besides occasionally ladling the fat into jars. It may have taken less time had I cut the fat into smaller pieces before I started. Since I didn't really have room for that and wouldn't have to touch it much while it was working it's magic anyway, I just didn't see the need for that extra step.
Now I have six and a half beautiful quarts of a traditional, healthy fat to cook with in addition to the lard I have left. Although, this took a long time - it took very little effort. Even the clean-up was a breeze. After I emptied each crock pot and the Dutch oven, I filled them with water and let the water heat in them for a while. This pulled almost all of the fat residue off the sides and bottoms of the pots. I then dumped the water and washed as usual. There was no problem with bits and pieces stubbornly sticking to it.
Traditionally, tallow was used in soap-making and for candles as well as for cooking. I'm glad to know that I could use it for those purposes in case of an emergency, but think I'll stick to cooking with it myself.
So tell me - have you ever bought a share of a cow? And, if you have - did you save the fat for tallow? Do you think it's something you would ever consider doing?
OK...on to something else briefly. I want to give you a sneak peak of what's been keeping me so busy and away from my blog lately. Ready?
I'm linking up at Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Mania, These Chicks Cooked, Traditional Tuesdays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Fat Tuesday, Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, and Real Food 101.