Render Your Own Tallow


Kristi Cook

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So you’ve decided to try your hand at creating old-fashioned tallow candles. Or maybe you’ve decided to make the switch from conventional shortening and vegetable oils to the more healthful and time honored practice of cooking with tallow. Whatever the case, rendering your own tallow from grassfed beef fat is both easy and satisfying. All it takes is a crockpot or large stock pot, a supply of beef fat, and time.

To get started, obtain the best quality beef fat possible, preferably from grassfed animals. It doesn’t really matter which part of the animal the fat comes from as it all makes fine cooking and crafting tallow. However, the fat located around the kidneys, also known as leaf fat, is the mildest tasting, cleanest, and hardest fat, making it the fat of choice when it’s available.

Once you have your fat in hand, you’ll need to trim off as much muscle tissue, skin, gristle, and other nonfat particles as you can. I have found this process is much easier if the fat is nearly frozen but not quite hard yet. If the kidney was left in the leaf fat, carefully trim the fat from the organ as cleanly as possible. It’s ok if you cut into the kidney, however, as any nonfat tissue will be rendered out in the end. Also, leaf fat tends to have a covering of clearish tissue surrounding it; just slice or pull as much of it away as possible. Again, any remaining pieces will be cooked out during the rendering process.

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11/23/2017 7:56:20 AM

Kristi, thank you for sharing your experience with making tallow with us. My only experience with rendering was when I was about 8 years old. We slaughtered a hog. My job was to cut the fat into cubes to be rendered into lard. I really didn't get to witness the process of butchering. I guess they thought it wouldn't be a good idea for an eight year old to see that part but I can still remember cutting up the fat into chunks. I had no clue what that was all about at age 8 but I do remember it was a community effort with many families involved. Those were good memory times of my life. Have a great Thanksgiving. Nebraska Dave

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