Taking on Tallow

Tallow, lard, rendering fat…all new additions to my vocabulary in the last several years.
Why? Even though the luxury of making goats milk soaps are worth every penny, the soap making ingredients are getting a bit costly for everyday soap bar use, so, I wanted to give tallow a try as it also has the added benefit of making a harder bar of soap that lasts longer.

Tallow is beef fat rendered —cooked into grease, (Lard is porks’ equivalent).
Wouldn’t ya know it, tallow is really healthy to use in cooking too. Thankfully in our rural community I have friends that will trade their beef fat when they butcher for other goods…because it’s not something you can really find in a supermarket shelf.

There are lot’s of blogs telling how to go about turning the chucks of white fat into creamy tallow, but they tend to omit their mistakes. Something I could have used my first go-around. Am I the only one that dives in without researching and makes mistakes to learn from? Just in case, I will share my mistakes along with successes:

Step 1 cut, chop, grind the fat to prep it for cooking

Mistake #1  trying to grind the fat at room temperature in my food processor. The stringy mass was going now where, so I chopped by hand.


Success #1 chilled fat cuts best, like butter instead of stringy fat, then grind in a food processor or meat grinder.

Step 2 cook for several hours

You do not add anything to the fat when cooking it, just heat it up. It several hours to render into liquid.

Mistake #2 cooking inside (it tends to not smell like steak cooking guys) or on an external burner overnight as I was trying to save time…it burned, as you can see the jars in the back are dark. Not a smart move on my part. I ended up throwing that tallow out.


Success #2 cooking in a crockpot OUTSIDE overnight. Perfect. Without the cooking fat smell inside. A large crock pot should take about 6 hours to render. When the crunchy bits float to the top it’s time to strain it.


Step 3 strain the liquid 

Mistake #3 it’s really too hot to strain right away, splatters and grease stains were prevalent.

Success #3 waiting 10-15 minutes before straining. Wear an apron. Cut up old t-shirts to use to catch the bits and pieces inside the strainer. A thicker cheesecloth can also be used.

Step 4 pour into containers to set

Mistake #4 using jars? small mouth, or large jars made it difficult for me to remove the tallow once frozen. They worked okay for those I kept in the refrigerator if they were widemouth. Refrigerated tallow will last about 3 months in the refrigerator.

Successful choice#4 Next time I will definitely pour into lined containers or pans, allow to set, then remove and freeze those bricks to slice what I need for later use.


Problem Solving

Mistake #5 the parts that did not melt I thought grinding them smaller in the food processor and re-cooking them would be brilliant.

Turns out those impurities didn’t render for a reason!



They turned into a sludgy mess, soaked through my cloth and strainer, and that stayed a liquid in the bottom of the jars with the good tallow set on top as the small jar below shows. (Also threw that tallow out)


Bottom line?

  • chunk and grind up fat that is chilled
  • cook in a crockpot OUTSIDE made it really easy
  • let cool slightly before straining
  • throw out those impurities you stained out!
  • freeze into bricks, not large jars

Use your tallow (or lard) for cooking, soap and candle making and for making seriously good french fries.



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