How (and Why) to Render Tallow

Tallow used to be commonplace a few hundred years ago, before it was replaced with mass-produced cooking oils like canola, corn and soy. What it is is rendered animal fat, (it’s normally called tallow for beef fat and lard for pig fat, but the same principles apply for each) and it can be used in many ways.

Why Render Tallow

The reason this is ideal for a homesteader is it’s always ideal to use every part of a butchered animal, and tallow gives you a great way to use up all the fat. But it’s not just useful-its super healthy and nutritious. Tallow is rich in Vitamin K, which is essential for bone health, cognitive function and heart health, Conjugated linoelic acid which regulates the immune system and maintains a healthy heart, and has also been suggested to contribute to weight loss, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with heart health, eye health, a healthy pregnancy, cognitive function, balancing mood and lowering cholesterol, to name just a few.

How to Use

Tallow can be used for frying and cooking, in place of butter or cooking oil, as an ingredient in lotion or cosmetics, and even to condition leather or as a lubricant for certain farm equipment. Probably one of the most efficient uses for tallow is for making pemmican, an incredible, super-nutritious survival food that can last for years.

How to make: 

To make tallow, you will probably want to start by looking up a recipe specifically for the animal who’s fat you are rendering, just to get an idea of specifics about that fat in particular, but for the most part the process is going to be the same.

  • First, you will want to start with frozen or refrigerated fat. This is how it should be stored before you render it. When you’re ready to make it, cut it up into small pieces or pulse in a food processor until it is broken up.
  • Then, you’ll want to put on very low heat over a stove. The key is not to burn it. A stove thermometer is handy here, keep it between 200-250 degrees. Stir pretty much constantly to prevent burning.
  • Once it is all melted, you need to strain it out. A metal mesh strainer will probably work well, or a colander lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. The liquid will be very hot, so as you strain it, make sure it is into something like an old coffee cup or sturdy heat-proof jar.
  • Once it is cool, it will be ready to store. It can keep at room temperature for up to a month, or in the refrigerator for a few months. It will keep in the freezer for up to a year. And that’s it! Enjoy your fresh, healthy, useful tallow.

Have you ever rendered tallow? 

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Survival Techniques From Long Ago, Re-purposed For The Modern Era…

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10 thoughts on “How (and Why) to Render Tallow

  1. Although your information is interesting, I still have a problem with paying $50 to. $60 and not being able to have a
    Physical copy of either a DVD or the book(S)

  2. I make soup broth, lots of different Bone Broth/soup broth. The fastest, simplest, most sterile way to render tallow from meat and bone a pressure cooker. Cool the final product in the fridge, spoon off the solid fat, warm over a low heat, can in canning jars. Chinese Five Spice. Onion and Garlic. Basil, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary and Garlic. The Tallow has the flavor of the soup broth just made. Use a teaspoon for breakfast eggs and ham, adds a real flavor boost! Keeps forever, when properly canned, without refrigeration! HOWEVER, refrigerate after opening for use!

  3. I thought this clogged arteries? Oris it one of those deals like, eggs, coffee, chocolate, etc. were once bad for you?

    1. Yes — like those — just make sure the fats are from animals that were pasture raised and not fed corn and soy (especially not GMO) and other food products not a part of their natural diet. That’s expensive meat (and fat), but really good for you! Animals eating chemically raised foods and standing in food lots hock-deep in their own waste are a completely different food. Same goes for eggs and dairy products.

  4. Big Paul makes sense – we’re talking a spoonful or two. This isn’t like deep frying breaded chicken or fish, with all that breading to hold the fat. A little goes a long way.
    My grandparents rendered tallow and used it nearly every day. Granddad used it to waterproof his work boots and belts, it also kept the leather from cracking and it stayed soft. Grandma oiled her wooden kitchen utensils, and knife handles and blades, to keep the wood and metal in good condition. Also her iron pots and skillets, to keep them from rusting.
    My brother-in-law, who hunts, uses deer tallow to condition his hunting gear. My sister hates the smell, but it’s free and it works. They also make venison pemmican and take it on camping trips. My sister makes soup and stew with it, both when camping and at home, for a change of taste.

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