Grit Blogs > Modern Roots

Rendering Animal Fats - Tallow

The BEST soaps, pies, and desserts are made from animals fats. They provide a hard, silky soap bar and a great suds, and delicious flaky pie crusts. It is also the best way to not waste a butchered carcass. In order to render fats, you must have chunks of the fat from the carcass. Most people just buy their lard and tallow already rendered but it can be costly if you use it often. I use a reputable butcher in my local town. He charges .25 a lb for un-ground beef fat (tallow) and .35 a lb for ground beef fat. I get it ground because it saves me A LOT of time and the extra .10 is worth it. You do not necessarily need to grind the fats but you get more of the fats rendered if you do so. In this demo, I am rendering tallow, but the process is the same for pig fat or lard or any other animal fat for that matter.

What you need: wire mesh fine strainer, animal fat ground, 1-5 gallon bucket (depending on how much you plan to render), bowl to strain into.

This is what the beef fat looks like when I pick it up.

 Ground Beef Fat
I take it out of the bags and place into a roasting pan/large stainless steel sauce pot and cook in the oven at 375 for 1 -2 hours depending on the amount. If there is still pink meat attached to the fats, let it go longer. If the meats start to get brown and crispy that's ok. You aren't keeping that part anyway. You will start to be able to see the fats become clear and separate from the meat that was still attached to it. That means it's done and ready to be strained.

 Cooked Beef Fat
Time to strain the pieces of remaining meat from the fat into the bowl. Do not wait too long to strain because tallow sets up at room temp. This is essentially ground beef, do what you please with it.

 Straining the fat
 Liquid tallow.

 Liquid Tallow 

Poured off into a 5 gallon bucket. You can skip putting it into the bowl and strain directly into your storage bucket but I like that my strainer fits perfectly on top of this stainless steel bowl and working in smaller batches ensures a cleaner product.  

 5 gallon bucket of tallow 

After it cools, this is what is looks like.  

 cooled tallow ready to use
Tallow set up harder than lard. Lard can be pretty soft so be sure to place in an airtight/leak proof container. Now it's ready to use! Soaps, baking, cooking you name it :) Oh, and recent studies have shown the benefits of animal fats in moderation is healthy for brain development and whole body health especially in children!

Click on over to to read more about homestead development, canning & gardening ---> like on facebook at            :)