Monday, January 30, 2012

Rendering Tallow


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 HopMonday ManiaThese Chicks CookedTraditional TuesdaysTeach Me Tuesdays, Fat TuesdayHearth and Soul Blog HopSimple Lives Thursday, and Real Food 101.

19 comments:

  1. This year when we ordered our half steer I asked the lady at the butcher shop to mark our card with some "new" requests. I asked for all the fat, trimmings, and organ meats. She asked me why I'd want that and I told her I was going to try my hand at soap making. I'm still searching for a thrift-store crockpot with removable insert so I can use the crockpot method of soapmaking and therefore am storing my beef fat in the freezers. Thanks for the reminder that I need to get moving with that project!

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    1. I see crock pots at our local Goodwill all the time. I've made lard and tallow in my crock pots, but never soap. I've seen it can be done from blogs, though. You'll have to let me know how it turns out with this method. Also, I'd love to know what you think of the soap made with tallow. :0)

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  2. We recently butchered our first 100% grass fed steer and I want to render the fat. We did all the work ourselves (well, all the people helping had never done this) so I think we lost a good amount of fat, but I sitll have what appears to be quite a bit. If I remember, I'll come back and share how much I got. I'm thinking we'll use ours for soap making for a few reasons, but I might be able to use some for cooking too. After it's in the jars, does it need to be kept cool or maybe even frozen?

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    1. It's awesome that you butchered the steer yourself! I think that experience was probably worth losing a bit of fat. :0) My FIL was a butcher. We were talking about how he could teach us so much about this stuff if he were still alive. But, I guess we'll have to wait until we get moved out into the country before we start figuring out that aspect on our own. I'd love to know how you like the soap made with tallow, as I've never done that. I keep my tallow in the extra fridge in our garage. It would probably be ok let out, though, because I put the lids on it while it was still hot, so it created a seal. I figure since I have the availability to keep it cool, it might be an extra safe precaution. I don't think freezing it would be necessary, but if you're going to do that - just make sure you leave plenty of room for expansion when it freezes. Good luck to you!

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  3. Thanks for your great post! I'll be featuring you this week :)

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  4. I just rendered tallow for the first time, too! I loved cooking with it, and we made ours from scraps, so it was free!

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  5. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-february-7-2012/

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  6. I have never bought a share in a cow, nor have I ever rendered tallow or lard. I really enjoyed reading this post though, and it is a great tutorial for anyone who is considering doing it! Thank you for sharing this post with the Hearth and Soul hop.

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  7. Thanks for your post. You are surely a Proverbs 31 woman! Blessings to you and your family.

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    1. Teresa,

      I definitely don't know if I'd go that far! LOL Miss you, Girl!

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  8. Pam,

    I enjoy your blog and I would like to recognize you by awarding your blog the Versatile Blogger Award. If you would like to accept it, please go to my blog to receive it here:

    http://moosaidthemama.blogspot.com/2012/02/versatile-blogger-award-thank-you.html

    Thank you,
    Kari (MooMama)

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  9. Those grass fed steers are lean but it is still amazing that half a steer's fat renders into those six jars.

    I'd be honored if you'd share this post on our new weekly link up -- Friday Food Flicks -- Amanda

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  10. Wow! I love that you are using what would be a waste product to many people!
    Gina

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  11. Thanks for sharing! I love how you use every part of your cow!
    Gina

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  12. Oh, I would SO do this. We hope to get back into cattle in the next few years, and this will be on my list of projects.

    Blessings...

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  13. Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings

    The most recent edition - http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2012/06/carnival-of-home-preserving-13-come.html - open until Thursday 6/7.

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